John Busby (Centerfield) - By Phone, by Chat, by Text

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This is a podcast episode titled, John Busby (Centerfield) - By Phone, by Chat, by Text. The summary for this episode is: <p>Vincent and Ajay have a chat with John Busby, chief marketing officer and managing director at centerfirled. He talks about capturing first party data from customers and brands and how brands look for long term customer relationships. Vincent visits San Antonio again, and Ajay feels like the month between visits felt too long.</p>
How John got into marketing
02:48 MIN
The ideal lead for John, and tactics used to acquire customers
02:35 MIN
What has attributed to Centerfield's success?
02:31 MIN
The effects of the pandemic
02:14 MIN
Pet peeves with LinkedIn messages
01:56 MIN

Mitten: Welcome to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you're going to put in your ears. I'm Mitten, the Associate Producer here at Stirista. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders, and get their take on the current challenges of the market, and we'll have a little fun along the way. In today's episode, Vincent and AJ have a chat with John Busby, Chief Marketing Officer and Managing Director at Centerfield. He talks about capturing first party data from customers and brands, and how brands look for long term customer relationships. Vincent visits San Antonio, again, and Ajay feels like the month between visits felt a little too long. Give it a listen.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of The Marketing Stir. I, of course, am your host of The Marketing Stir, Vincent Pietrafesa. Also, the Vice President of B2B Products and Partnerships here at Stirista. It is so nice to be talking to you, once again. Let's talk about Stirista just for a quick moment here. Who are we? Well, we're a marketing technology company, we focus on identity. We have our own business to business database, we have our own business to consumer databases. Customers utilize us to target those databases. Email marketing. We have our own DSP, called Adster. We can do connected TV, we can do display. All in an effort to get you some new customers. That sounds great, doesn't it? Email me at Vincent @ Stirista. com. That is how confident I am that I can help you. I just gave my email out to all of you. The other thing I'm confident in, two things. Today's guest, as well as my commander in chief, my CEO, ladies and gentlemen, from San Antonio, Mr. Ajay Gupta. What's going on, Ajay?

Ajay Gupta: Hey, Vincent. Normally, you're more confident in me than the guest. This is a welcome change.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I know. That's it. I knew you would pick up on that. That's why I said I'm keeping you on your toes. I cannot wait, I'm coming down to San Antonio, once again, to see the great people there, the great teammates that I have. Are you excited about that, Ajay?

Ajay Gupta: That should be really fun. I think we are long overdue, even though we just saw each other last month. It feels like a long time.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I like that. I like that. I love that enthusiasm. What's been going on? How's everything in San Antonio? Keep me posted. Let me know. What's up?

Ajay Gupta: Things are good. School restarted here. I've never really understood why schools start as early as they do. I have to make some adjustments, now, to wake up a little bit earlier. It is what it is.

Vincent Pietrafesa: It is what it is. Yep. I know. My son, he started his four year old program. He goes to a school here in Manhattan, the Tribeca Community School. Shout out to them. Maybe they'll give me a discount on my tuition. They won't, but let's at least try to give them a shout out. No, it's good. He's really excited about it. We're in the process, we were picking out new gear, fresh gear. He's already trying to dress himself. That's my son. I love it. I love it.

Ajay Gupta: This is the second time you've mentioned a company name. I feel you might have some sponsors on the side.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yes. The other day I mentioned Custom Men. They are... That's my custom suit guy. No. I have my own sponsors. We don't have sponsors of the show, because we say, " No." It's really big. We're looking for the right... Anyway.

Ajay Gupta: We're an early stage Facebook. It's too cool to have ads.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Too cool, right now. Then, maybe later. No. No, Tribeca Community School is definitely not a sponsor, because I am paying them, very much a lot of money, for my son to attend school. More than my college cost. I don't know what that says. Anyway. Custom Men, they're might be... I mentioned them. They do great work. Do they throw me a discount? Maybe. I don't know. Doesn't seem like it. Anyway. Let's get to, again, why I'm so confident in today. It's our guest. Our guest, ladies and gentlemen. We are very happy to have him, from Centerfield. Heard of them? Yes. If not, you'll hear more about them. Ladies and gentlemen, please, a warm Marketing Stir welcome for the Chief Marketing Officer and Managing Director at Centerfield, John Busby. What's going on, John?

John Busby: Hey, Vincent. Hey, Ajay. How are you?

Vincent Pietrafesa: Awesome. Hanging in there. This is my first day back from a long vacation. Not a vacation, I went to go visit my wife's grandmother. Not a vacation, she's 95 years young. Happy to see her. Shout out to Pauline. She's not a sponsor, for sure. It's great. How's everything with you?

John Busby: It's going good. I had a similar last couple of weeks as you guys. My daughter started middle school this morning.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Nice.

John Busby: A lot of excitement about that. My son doesn't start until next week, but he's really into hockey, ice hockey. I am, too. He's been asking me to do workouts in the morning. We did a workout this morning. I'm all energized and ready to go. The blood if is flowing, the blood is pumping. I'm up here in my attic of my Seattle home, still morning here. All is well.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's awesome. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for waking up early with us. You were already at it. My son, maybe I dread the point when my son is like, " Hey, Dad. Let's have a workout." I don't know if I'm a fan of that. It's great. It's bonding. What's your favorite hockey team?

John Busby: Seattle is about to get a NHL team.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Come on. I didn't hear that.

John Busby: Called the Kraken.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, wow.

John Busby: The first year is this year. I grew up outside of Chicago, was a Blackhawk's fan. I'm switching allegiances. I've been in Seattle for 20 years. I'm going all in on the Seattle teams.

Vincent Pietrafesa: 20 years, that's good. That's allowable. I think it's 20 years. The same thing I'm feeling. I used to root for the Chicago Bulls growing up. I'm from New York, and you're not supposed to do that when you're from New York, because the Knicks are here and people love the Knicks. I feel my living in Manhattan, my son, I feel we're going to go to a lot of Brooklyn- Mets games, because they're less expensive than the Knicks games. It's just there. I put in my time. Who knows? I still like Chicago. You got to stay with Chicago, even though they were amazing in the 90s, not so great since. I'll allow it. I'll allow it. Enough about the sports talk. We're losing my co- host, Ajay, on it, unless we're talking about tennis, we lose him a little bit, John. I can talk for hours about it. Let's get right into it, because I want our guests to really know you, first, and then the company, second. Let's talk about Centerfield. For those people who are listening, and they don't know about Centerfield, talk to me a little bit about that.

John Busby: Thanks, Vincent, for the question. Just a little as an aside, Ajay, if you want to talk tennis later, I became obsessed about a year ago. I could use some pointers in my game. I'm also starting a mixed doubles league with my wife, which I'm feeling is going to be good for our marriage, but who knows if we get too competitive.

Ajay Gupta: John, I'll just warn you. Mixed doubles leagues are not good for marriages.

John Busby: Okay.

Vincent Pietrafesa: You heard it here first.

John Busby: I've been warned. We'll see on season three then how things are fairing. Thanks for asking about Centerfield. We are a customer acquisition company. We acquire customers on behalf of brands that you know, like AT& T, Clover, Spectrum, Amazon Web Services, Home Depot, Medical Guardian. What does that mean? Brands pay Centerfield. They pay us on a performance basis to acquire customers via paid search, social media, and then our own websites. In the travel industry Expedia has its own website, where hotels and travel companies pay a bounty for signups through Expedia. We have the same thing on our own websites, Business. com, or Broadbandnow. com, that reach 100 million folks a year. We're not an agency. Our clients pay us per acquisition, or percentage of the revenue we generate for them. In terms of, you know you asked on the outset, have you heard of Centerfield. We're not yet a household name, but we're big. Before I joined Centerfield, just before, we were in the best places to work competition in Los Angeles, and we won an award for small companies. Just this past month, we received the same award, but this time in the large company category. We're really proud of that. We have more than 1000 employees, and revenue well into the nine figures. In terms of what I do, my team is responsible for creating conversations with perspective clients. Traditional corporate marketing stuff. Then, also, I have a team that is responsible for content, editorial, and research for all of our owned and operated websites, Business. com, or Security. org.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Thanks for that background, John. Lastly, I want to, for me, for my first set of questions here, you talked about your role. How did you get into marketing? We love to ask that on The Marketing Stir. We have a lot of people either trying to get into marketing career as students, or changing their careers. Talk to me about your path.

John Busby: Thanks for that question. I haven't had a 20 year career in marketing. If you're interested in marketing, you don't have to start in marketing at day one. I like to say that I have 20 plus years of experience in marketing product analytics. I started my career during the. com boom, and took a job... Moved to California, took a job as a second full time employee, outside of the co- founders, at a startup called IQ Chart. We were focused on realtime stock charts, which are all over now. Previously, you had to get this computer terminal, and a dedicated connection, pay$ 1000.00 a month for that. We were offering it at 30 bucks. I remember my first job interview, I actually had never really had a job before. They gave me 30 minutes to write a press release, which was really easy for me because I was a pretty good writer in college. I participated in debate. That's all I did. They were pretty happy, and they hired me on the spot and I moved to California. I was up and running. In terms of, I learned right away what I liked to do. I really didn't know what I was in for. I ended up doing everything that wasn't technology. I wrote every page of our website, did external comms, there was a phone in the server room that rang a couple times a day, I asked what that was. They said, " That's our phone number, we don't answer it." I became the head of customer service, too. In the next year we were acquired, and I learned a couple things. Number one, I love to write things. I loved writing all the website copy. I loved trying to get press. I also loved to use data to make decisions, and decide what to focus on. Those are the seeds on which my career has been based. My start in B2B marketing, which I guess is what I do now, came by way of research and product management. Fast forward about 10 years, I was running product at an advertising measurement company, called Marchex. I'd been doing product for about a decade, and we were entering a new category. That category was called call tracking, or call analytics. Basically, attributing phone calls from digital marketing. A lot of digital marketers really didn't know what that was. I recommended that we start an industry research internally, called the Marchex Institute, that was designed to study the space and publish research. Content marketing, that kind of thing. We ended up using the research for pretty much everything in sales and marketing, and eventually, it became our marketing strategy. I ended up running marketing, learned on the fly, did that for about five years. After a very cruel detour at Amazon's grocery division, in analytics and marketing strategy, I joined Centerfield, where I get to do things, now, that I really love and I think help the company.

Ajay Gupta: Specifically, talking about lead generation, and how do you view lead generation, especially when it comes to targeting? What are some of the tools that you guy are using?

John Busby: In terms of B2B targeting, B2B lead generation, prospects that we want to become customers, we're doing a lot of top of funnel virtual events. This podcast, in a way, where we have really interesting industry conversations about first party data, or customer acquisition, or lead generation, and in industries that our prospects care about, we have those conversations and then just by virtue of people attending those things, they generally say, " You guys seems pretty smart, maybe you can help us out." We start our conversations that way. Beyond that, we have a marketing stack of Pardot and Salesforce, and whatnot, to do our email nurture campaigns and tracking, and all of that. In terms of lead generation for consumers, that's a very technology driven thing for us. Our entire service runs on a platform that we call Dugout, which is end to end customer acquisition. We built it at Centerfield over the last 10 years, it's all home grown, and it attracts users from click through to conversion, and leverages a bunch of first party data to make conversion work. I'm happy to go into more detail on that if you like.

Ajay Gupta: We love talking about first party data. We'd love to know what are some of the things you're capturing, what are some of the data points and data assets you guys have.

John Busby: I'll talk mostly about acquiring a customer for a brand, like AT& T or ADT Home Security, and what we use for that. As you know, marketing is incredibly competitive. Unless you have really, really first party data, it's very difficult to do digital customer acquisition at scale. Let's imagine that you're competing in Google for a term like best home security system. There are 10 brands, and 10 aggregators, and all these other big publishers who desperately want that traffic, and are willing to pay Google for that, or willing to invest in SEO to show up in organic results. If we're able to convert customers that come to our site just a little bit better than everyone else, then we can afford to pay more, or invest more. We found that when we collect certain first party data from consumers, we're much more likely to convert that customer, and it gives us a super competitive advantage when we're trying to buy media. Let's imagine you're searching for Internet. You live in Los Angeles, you want a new Internet service provider. I mentioned my fiber Internet was down today, so maybe I'll be doing that a little bit later, if they can't fix it. We want to collect certain things from every consumer. We want to know their location, we want to know if they're into gaming, or streaming, or care about sports, or where they live. We use all of this data to improve the online and the off line experience. That's really our bread and butter, and why we're successful.

Vincent Pietrafesa: John, you touched upon it there, as well. You mentioned some amazing telecommunications companies. What are those brands really looking for when it comes to leads? What makes an ideal lead for them? What are some of the tactics you're using? Without revealing the secret sauce, but would love to hear more about that.

John Busby: I think in terms of what telecommunications brands are looking for, I think they're looking for long term customer relationships. Not someone who is going to sign up for Internet and phone, and cancel in 30 days, or not activate, or something like that. I mentioned our business model is performance based, so if it's up to us, we don't want to be paid for a new customer acquisition, we want to be paid... Or, a new customer acquisition after 90 days, or after they activate, or pay back the money if the customer cancels within 90 days or 120 days. We want our incentives to be 100% aligned with the marketers that we work with. That part is super important. We're laser focused on awesome, loyal customers. In terms of the factors that help close customers, just to get a little bit deeper into the first party data, and why I think you know this at Stirista, why it's so important, there isn't a single Internet brand that covers everybody in the United States. It doesn't work that way. Even the biggest Internet service provider only covers 50 or 60% of the population. You must know, down to the neighborhood, which provider are available. You collect first party data where someone is, having really good data about where what Internet options are truly available, is a major, major criteria in conversion. Intent is really important, too. That's why we collect things like why do we think you're here, can the search query tell us why you're searching for Internet, you're interested in gaming, or high speed, or fiber, whatever. If you offer too slow of a package, that can be a turnoff. Too expensive of a package could be a turnoff, also. First party data really helps us here. Another example in Internet, is we've learned that someone who is really into sports should be offered different products than someone who's not really into sports. We have to find a way to get that data. Once we do, we're much better at acquiring customers on behalf of our brand partners.

Vincent Pietrafesa: John, I want to shed some more light on Centerfield. You mentioned, and thanks for going in depth there on the telecom clients that you have. Let's talk about ideal clients for Centerfield. I want to get you out there, because I know you're doing some great work. Ideal clients, what are some of the targets that you guys are focusing on, who could really take advantage of Centerfield's services? Is that the targets that you're going after as CMO, you're building to get some awareness that way within those targets, or are you helping the customers that you do have, market their services to get more customers? If that all makes sense.

John Busby: Yeah. Internally, in terms of what I do on the corporate marketing side, I'm not doing the media buying, that's a different team. What I do, my team does, is create content and editorial for our owned and operated websites. Then, I also help on the corporate marketing side in two ways. One, for our existing customers, letting them know about the other products and services that we offer. We can do more work with them. Also, in categories, or industries where we don't have deep penetrations, creating new... Telling our story, communicating how we can help a prospect, and hopefully, having them become long term customers of ours. You could think of us as having four divisions, if you will. One is residential services. Internet, TV, home phone, home security, that thing. Second is, consumer services. We own a property called Savings. com, where you can get coupon codes and discounts on goods and services across. Consumer services is another one. Insurance is a third. We just acquired a company called Datalot, who is a leader in the insurance space. Then, we also do senior products and services, as well. We have a lot of clients and customers that we can serve. I should have mentioned business to business, as well. What are we looking for to enter a vertical? Usually, our clients sell high consideration products and services. Internet, phone, home security, medical devices, credit card processors, that kind of thing. They're not cheap. You have to sign a contract, generally, or it's going to be a lot of money. Consumers really want to have more information to make a good decision. They want to make sure they get a good deal from a product or service that they can trust. That's really what we help with. Also, first party data is much more helpful when there's a high consideration product, or service. If something is cheap, you'll just buy it. If something is more expensive, you need help.

Ajay Gupta: I actually heard about Centerfield for the first time when my friend, Cali Tran, who introduced us, joined Centerfield. Like you said earlier, I had no idea how big you guys were until I looked them on LinkedIn when he joined. Wow, this is a good company. Household name, or should be, on its way. I'd love to know what you attribute your company's success to, and how the growth trajectory is looking.

John Busby: Thanks for that. Cali's been with us, probably six months now. He's been amazing to work with, and I'm glad that I was able to be introduced to you through him. What do I attribute our success to? One is, our business model, for sure. I've always had a thesis, and I think our co- founders, Brett and Jason, have always had this thesis that advertising is going to move to completely performance based. I'm sure you've seen in your time in advertising, when your incentives aren't totally aligned, something goes haywire. The business model is really key. Second is, definitely is our technology platform. When you're responsible for acquiring customers for a brand, you've got to have technology. Measurement technology, that kind of thing. We tried to use third party point solutions over the last 10 years, we've never been able to get them all to be stitched together. We've made a massive investment in technology over the last 10 years, really with three foundations built into the technology. One is, to provide customers with choice. That means they need to be able to buy online, by phone, by chat, by text, any way a consumer wants to interact with us, with the brand, we need to be able to do. Second is, we need to provide customers with a reason to buy, whether it's a promotion, a deal, or call to action, I'm sure. Vincent, you know this. You got to ask for the sale. We've really learned how to do that, and do that in an automated way. Third is, have a relevant, consistent experience. I don't know if you've ever been on a website, you're looking at a deal, you're looking at products, you call someone or you go into the store, and it's apples and oranges. We've made a really deliberate effort to make sure that anything offline matches what we do online. Technology is the second leg of the stool. The third leg of the stool is definitely our culture and our people. We have an amazing culture at Centerfield. It's really fun to work there, it's very entrepreneurial, and everyone at the company has a lot of autonomy and the ability to scale fast, which is not punished, it's rewarded. All those reasons. I could babble, I suppose, for another five minutes. That's the gist of it.

Ajay Gupta: John, the number of web properties you have, is that something you continuously look to add more acquisitions, or I'm sure there's a considerable effort to promote those existing properties, as well?

John Busby: That's right. When I joined Centerfield, we actually didn't have any meaningful, organic, owned and operated properties. We primarily generated leads and customers through paid search. That was phase one of Centerfield, and phase two of Centerfield was we have all of these customers coming in through our own paid search properties, they're not covering as much as we wish they would. We acquired a call center, a company called Qology, based in Florida, which allowed us to answer the phone and we now have a world class call center that converts really well. Then, we said, " We don't want to pay for all of our traffic. Let's start dipping our toes into organic, owned and operated websites." We purchased this property called Broadband Now, which is a website where you can find and compare local Internet service providers. After a year or two of upgrading the content and doing some SEO stuff, and getting a lot of press for the site, it grew. It grew a lot, in terms of users, in terms of profitability. We said, " We think we're on to something." Since then, we've acquired assets in home security, physical security, and digital security, in seniorsavings. com, which I mentioned, Business. com, and I think that we'll maintain an aggressive strategy here. We feel we can really help consumers with these sites, and we're also good at taking sites, which have a footprint, and growing them.

Vincent Pietrafesa: John, I wanted to talk about, you mentioned it, it was something that was on my mind. You talked about the insurance base marketing, the acquisition there. Talk to me about that acquisition, because I feel the insurance business needs to change. I think it needs to inject some technology into it. I also feel that the pandemic allowed people, or forced people, to look at different types of insurance differently. I think that's an area that's moving, going up. Talk to me about that acquisition, and the importance of it, to add to the portfolio there.

John Busby: Yeah, I agree with the pandemic causing us all to look at our credit card statements, and say, " How am I thinking about insurance, or streaming TV, whatever?" We definitely see that with consumers. Insurance is a very attractive category to be a part of. It's an expensive product that every adult needs. If you have a solution to acquire insurance customers, that's very valuable. Insurance is a category that's high consideration, like I talked about before. We were always envious of that category, wanted to get into it, but it was difficult to start from scratch. We acquired a company who we're really pumped about, it's called Datalot, based in Brooklyn. They are a leader in customer acquisition and lead generation for insurance companies. It's not just auto insurance, which gets most of the advertising. It's home, life, Medicare, and so on. We feel really lucky to have been able to bring Data Field into the Centerfield fold. The founder, Josh, is a long time friend of one of our co- founders, Jason. We feel Datalot has the same DNA as us. One is, they're performance based. Their clients pay strictly for outcomes. That's a must for us. Second is, they're technology based. We convert better because we've invested in understanding what a consumer wants, whether it's more coverage, or more savings, or whatever, and linking them to the right company. Third, the culture and attitude of the company, and all of my new colleagues. We want to grow through delivering for customers. That's the main focus, and that's really infectious to be a part of.

Vincent Pietrafesa: It's a fun company in Brooklyn. You can't beat that. New York. Love it. John, talk to me about, we mentioned it, and it's still the elephant in the room with the pandemic. I think a lot of our listeners always love hearing the stories of how companies adapted and got through it, and how they coped with the employees. Talk to us about the last year, operations wise, how you go to market to look for customers, how did the pandemic alter that for you? Were you big in conferences in person? Shed some light on that for us.

John Busby: That's a great question. Going all the way back to the beginning of the pandemic, first, I was freaked out. What's going to happen with advertising dollars? What's going to happen with sales? With everything. There are a couple of things we started to understand in the first 60 days. One is, our tight customer relationships were tight, and it felt, and seemed they were going to stay tight. On the other hand, brand new sales, felt they were going to be difficult. If you want to work with a major brand, and don't have any relationship, or just a casual relationship, you don't have a trade show, or an in person meeting, to break the ice. That was something we really had to think about. Then, on the flip side, and I'll get into our solution in a minute. We found that creating a relationship through really good content and research is working. Our focus, now, is creating really great content in virtual events, and focusing on what attendees are going to learn. That's working. Sometimes when we were running events, or going to trade shows, or whatever, how can we speak to a thousand different people. Now, we're getting very targeted. Let's say we want to get to know marketers in higher education, which is a category that Centerfield is in. We'll do a virtual event specifically on the marketing tactics of higher education. We'll get down super deep, super specific, like the one that we're having today about what's going on right now. We're not worried about whether or not we have 200 attendees. We want 25 attendees. We want it to be really intimate, and we want to show that we can have an intelligent conversation about the problems that they're thinking through, and then hopefully that will lead to a deeper conversation. It's actually proved to work for us. That's the major thing for us, in terms of the corporate marketing side of things.

Ajay Gupta: John, what do you guys do to keep people who are filling out forms on the websites, or signing up, to keep them engaged throughout the process, and how long do you keep them on your subscriber list?

John Busby: One of the things that we want to do is when someone is on a landing page of ours, we want to have some type of interactive, or gamified experience so that someone feels they're giving information, and getting more information back. We feel at that time we started to create this first party data relationship, where if the consumer comes back in the future, we can pick up where we left off. Conceivably, we can have this asynchronous relationship that can get back to where it was right away, when you're connecting with a best friend you haven't talked to in a while. What we also do is offer consumers a lot of choice. We try to encourage consumers to chat with us, to give our call center a call, or even give us the opportunity to shoot them an SMS, or give them a call when we have something interesting to say. We're very active and aggressive in trying to create a longterm relationship for our customers and brands. When we're doing something on behalf of a brand, and someone signs up, that's essentially their customer. We're not reusing that data in any other way. We're trying to keep that lead hot, or warm, to get them to buy the product that our brand partner is selling.

Ajay Gupta: Got it. John, if we understand your model correctly, it is largely based on performance. It sounds like they pay if you find them customers. Is that the right way of looking at it?

John Busby: That's exactly right. We can be sometimes paid on a lead, but that's really not what we prefer. We want to be paid if someone buys the product, because then we know that our client is happy. Also, our clients likely to pay the most money for that, as well. We're even happier, when we have a relationship where we're paid if someone stays a customer for a long time. Then, we can get paid even more per referral, and our marketing partners are the happiest. Everybody is happy.

Ajay Gupta: That's awesome, John. I know it's a hard model to make work, and the fact that you guys are doing it at scale tells me that something is going very well for your clients.

John Busby: Thanks.

Vincent Pietrafesa: John, I'm going to get into some other questions, some of our staple questions here, before Ajay gets into more of the personal side. You can talk tennis, but there's a few questions that we have. One of them is our staple. People write to us all the time saying, " We love this question." LinkedIn, people utilize it for a variety of different purposes. Marketing purposes, especially. Sales purposes. Someone of your title, you must get a lot of LinkedIn messages. What's a LinkedIn message that resonates with you, and says, " I'll take that meeting. I'll respond." What are some of your pet peeves that you just hate, that you never respond to?

John Busby: I've been wanting to get this off my chest for a long time.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Welcome to The Marketing Stir. We have the virtual couch.

John Busby: You're right, I receive about 50 to 100 solicitations per day, whether it's email or LinkedIn. That's not all LinkedIn. Most of that is email. A lot of solicitations. I'm curious, if you all have the same pet peeve that I do. I get a lot which are, " 15 minutes of your time." Or, " Can I call you at 1: 00 PM today?" I literally do not understand how those convert. Maybe they work for you guys. Maybe there's something that other people have unlocked that I haven't figured out how to unlock yet. Non- specific subjects and long intros, huge turnoffs for me. If you're trying to reach me, I'm going to look at 10 or 15 words, max, and then go to the next thing. Let's say that I want help creating and producing a podcast. That's something in the back of my mind that I want. The perfect title for me is, " We produce B2B podcasts. Can we help you?" I'm going to read the first sentence of the email. Or the LinkedIn message. Then, if the first sentence is this long mysterious thing, I'm going to pass. If they tell me really quickly why they're good, then I will respond. That's my pet peeve. That's my recommendation. I get so many emails and LinkedIn trying to do weird guilt things. Do you get these, too?

Vincent Pietrafesa: Sometimes. I want to hear more.

Ajay Gupta: This is good.

John Busby: "I guess you're not interested."

Vincent Pietrafesa: "I've offended you."

John Busby: They say, " I know your time is precious." I appreciate that, but is this an ironic thing? Me reading the sentence, " I know your time is precious," is wasting my time. Just go in there and tell me what you want. If it's something I need, I will respond.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I like that. I love the first sentence has to peak my attention. Content or videos, you have to get it right there, resumes, right when people look at resumes, oftentimes they're not looking at the entire thing. It has to be there. I agree. Those ones, I'll respond to people. Just today, just this morning, this is the third email I received, and they called me Vicnet, not Vincent. Vicnet. They turned it around. " I wanted to get this top..." I said, " I'm not interested. By the way, it's Vincent, not Vicnet." Winky face. Something like that. I don't know if I even put that. I was like come on. It's not that hard. Three times. It's little things like that. I'll respond, just to let them know. You're right, it has to be short, to the point. I also love, " I listen to your podcast. Love you guys." I'm listening. Now, I'm listening.

Ajay Gupta: Flattery goes a long way with Vincent.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Sure it does. It sure does.

John Busby: Big time. Bring it on. Bring me some compliments.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Doesn't hurt. Now, I'm listening. You like compliments, too, Ajay. Who are you kidding? Flattery works with you, too.

Ajay Gupta: Me?

Vincent Pietrafesa: John, another one. Awesome career, thus far. Variety of different aspects of your career. Talk to us, also again, we get deep here. Shining moment of the career, thus far? Highlight, shining moment?

John Busby: Gosh. I don't know. One of my happiest moments was really, really early in my career. This one comes to mind. I was at this startup. We were doing realtime stock charts. We didn't really have any marketing presence. I think it's still around, but remember the newspaper called Barron's? It's a weekly-

Vincent Pietrafesa: There's the annual report, too?

John Busby: Sister publication of the Wall Street Journal, or whatever. I was at a trade show, and I recognized the persons name. She wrote this review column for individual investors, I guess, at Barron's. I was a young kid, 23 or something like that. I hustled and got in front of her, told her about our product, IQ Chart. She ended up writing a review in Barron's, a full page review on the product. It really made a lasting imprint on me. Things like knowing your data, I knew who she was, I knew what she wrote about, I had done my research. Hustle. I had to work up the guts to go and talk to her. Third, being a clear communicator, in terms of what I wanted, why we were special, why she might want to write about us. I go back to that story quite a bit because I feel those things are what are most likely to produce successful results in a career. I've had a lot of great times at Centerfield. Couple years ago, we were purchased by Platinum Equity. That was a really great moment, a culmination of a lot of hard work by our co- founders, and everybody that I work with. Broadband Now growing, all that stuff has been really cool. I tend to go back to that story.

Ajay Gupta: John, just time for one more question. I know we discussed earlier, you got into tennis recently. I'd love to know a little bit more on your personal side, what do you like to do for fun? What have you been up to during the pandemic?

John Busby: Something I really like to do, I mentioned working out with my son in the mornings doing hockey. I coach, and I play hockey, myself. I'm generally out on the ice two or three times a week with my sons team, or my daughters team, then I play hockey. During the pandemic, my wife has been into tennis for about five or six years, and I started to play with her. All of a sudden, this light switch went off. I'm not sure why I wasn't into tennis before, but then I became crazy obsessed with it, and I try to play every day. It's so fun. I've never played an individual sport before, I've always played these team sports. I think the last category is, I like to think I can pick football games, and play poker. I like both of those things, a lot. I think the better way to describe me in those categories is, barely competent amateur. Those are more for entertainment. Like a lot of people, I think I'm really good at picking football games, but I'm probably pretty average.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's awesome. I love hearing that. Especially, the hockey with the kids, getting up and doing that. I love that Seattle is getting a team. I really didn't know that. I did not know that they're getting a new... That will be something to go with the kids to. Take them to Kraken. What a great name. As in, Release the Kraken. The episode, maybe we'll call it Release the Kraken. That will be cool. I'm kidding. Maybe. Who knows. Anyway. John, this has been awesome. Thank you so much. It's been awesome getting to know you these past couple weeks leading up to this. And of course, today. Thanks to Cali for helping put this together. Love what you're doing at Centerfield. Ladies and gentlemen, the Chief Marketing Officer and Managing Director at Centerfield, John Busby. I'm Vincent Pietrafesa, that's Ajay Gupta. This has been another episode of The Marketing Stir. Thank you so much for listening. We appreciate it. Talk to you soon.

Mitten: Thanks for listening to The Marketing Stir podcast by Stirista. Please like, rate, and subscribe. If you're interested in being a guest on the podcast, email us at TheMarketingStir @ Stirista. com. Thanks for listening.


Vincent and Ajay have a chat with John Busby, chief marketing officer and managing director at centerfirled. He talks about capturing first party data from customers and brands and how brands look for long term customer relationships. Vincent visits San Antonio again, and Ajay feels like the month between visits felt too long.

Today's Host

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Vincent Pietrafesa

|Vice President, B2B Products, Stirista
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Ajay Gupta

|Founder & CEO, Stirista

Today's Guests

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John Busby

|CMO, Centerfield
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