Educating a B2B market with Jed Corenthal, CMO at Phenix
Education on a solution is often the first step businesses take when breaking into a B2B market. With complex technological products and services, this step is unmissable.
This episode covers:
- Jed’s career background
- Why did Phenix need to educate their market?
- Does educating a market mean you’re defining a category?
- Which institutions lead the way on market education?
- Which channels can you use to educate a market?
- Which language should you use when educating a market?
- Examples of educational campaigns
- When can you move on from educational marketing?
Listen to the full episode here:
And check out more of the FINITE B2B marketing podcast here!
Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of the FINITE Podcast. Today, we're joined by Jed Corenthal who is currently CMO at Phenix, a real time video streaming solution. In Jed's most recent experience, he's had to maintain a focus on really educating a market in a new category, using the right channels, language and educational messaging. And we're gonna be talking about his journey in a bit more detail. So I hope you enjoy.
Before we dive into the episode, I have one quick message before we get started, and that is if you haven't already yet make sure to grab your free ticket to FINITE Fest. It's our one day virtual conference coming up on May the 17th, featuring great guests from leading B2B tech companies who are set to tackle the current challenges faced by most B2B tech marketers these days.
From battling digital fatigue, to breaking through the boring of B2B tech branding, and where is account based marketing going next? Those are just a few of the topics we'll be covering sign up through the link in the description below or at finite.community/finitefest2022. Enjoy this episode.
The FINITE community is kindly supported by The Marketing Practice, a global integrated B2B marketing agency that brings together all the skills you need to design and run account-based marketing, demand generation channel, and customer marketing programs. Head to themarketingpractice.com.
Hello Jed and welcome to the FINITE podcast.
My pleasure to be here, Alex.
Jed’s career background
I'm looking forward to talking. We are gonna be hearing all about your experience and everything you're up to in your CMO role at the moment, and talking a bit about educating the market. But before we do that, I'll let you introduce yourself. Tell a bit about your experience and background and your current role.
Sure. It's been an interesting journey for me. I've had two phases to my career. The first was on the corporate side where I spent a long time at Sony, mostly on the music side, over 11 years in a variety of roles for Columbia records. I ran the jazz department, for a little while I was in product management overseeing a roster of artists.
And then I split away a little bit and wrote a business plan to organise kind of a synergistic or cross platform group that leverage all of the Sony business units, PlayStation, games, music, electronics, et cetera, all under one roof. And sort of promote that or sell that as a package to corporate America. I did a bunch of deals there, ended up doing one with the NFL, which then led me to being recruited to help run integrated marketing at the NFL, which I did for a number of years, which was a lot of fun. Enjoyed it.
Then I went on my own, started my entrepreneurial career, started a couple of companies, one called MIMO, which is kind of funny because you know, the metaverse has been one of the hottest topics now, and what most people don't realise is that it's not new. Avatars and virtual goods were around 10, 12, 15 years ago when we were doing stuff with companies like Second Life and Hubba hotel and different virtual worlds that were very popular in those days. Popular, like to the point where 10, 15 million people would come in on a daily basis. So it was a big deal. So we built a company around virtual goods for these virtual worlds. So that was exciting.
I ended up selling that company in 2014, did some consulting after that, and then joined Phenix in 2016 where I am currently the CMO, where I oversee all of our marketing related functions, PR, social, but I also oversee business development because I've been doing this for a while and have a lot of context in the space. I try and help bring in some new business opportunities to the company. And we're at an exciting point, which I'm sure we'll get into, but I'll sort of leave that for next.
Yeah. Sounds good. That's a good introduction. Maybe just tell us a little bit about Phenix and what you do just to set this scene.
Sure. So Phenix is a technology company that has built a platform that has solved a number of the streaming issues that have been plaguing the industry for some time. What makes us interesting and unique isn't just that we stream in what we consider real time, which is half a second from when we get the signal to when a fan sees it on their phone or device. So it's sort of from the field to play to their devices in a half a second.
And it's not just that we can scale that to millions of people, and it's not just that we can synchronise across all devices so everybody's watching at the same time, it's that we do both of those. What we've built is so unique because although there are very few companies that are able to stream in real time, nobody's really been able to solve the scaling issue.
It's one thing to deliver to a handful of users. It's another thing to deliver to a hundred, 200, 500,000 users at the same time without losing latency. So that's something that we've been able to prove and what makes this kind of special.
Very cool. This is a completely random question, not related to do with marketing, but I always was of the impression that there had to be some kind of pause or delay in streams so that if the producer needed to hit the big red button to stop something from reaching end users, they had a bit of a chance to if someone said a word they weren't meant to say, or something like that, but half a second's a short gap.
So what you're talking about is what happens on the broadcast. So what happens is the camera's on the field, take the pictures and you see it on your television about anywhere. Depending on whether your cable satellite or over the air, anywhere from about 5, 6, 7 seconds to maybe 15 or, and that has the built in delay for language, wardrobe malfunctions, like we saw in the super bowl a number of years ago.
But when you're on the digital side, when you're streaming, you don't have that mandatory delay. You don't have to hold back the stream at all. So the idea is to stream it as close to the field of play. So as though you're in the stadium, watching it without any delay at all.
Why did Phenix need to educate their market?
Interesting, very cool. Well, that leads us nicely into the topic and this sounds like a new and cutting edge technology, and it obviously sounds like you've managed to crack something that's not been done before, or what people have struggled to do as you say at scale. And so with that comes a degree of having to really educate your audience and market about how you're different, how you stand out, what you've done. Maybe it's always nice to start with a bit of a scene setter. And when we're talking about educating the market, what are we really referring to from your perspective?
Well, it's a good point. I mean, the biggest challenge that we have or had, and to some extent still have not as much is when we were talking about our technology, we never really refer to it as live, because live is what you see with delay. That's what has been defined as when you watch to your point on broadcast, when there's a broadcast delay or some of the other streaming platforms that have delays, they're streaming it, quote unquote, in live.
But the problem was the terms live and real time were being used interchangeably and in our mind incorrectly. So the first thing that we felt we needed to do was educate not only the market, but also the media to the fact that live and real time are not the same. And so those are sort of taglines that we connect.
We came up with our PR firm diffusion, that we would go out to a market and stress, the difference between live and real time, because we wanted to own the lane of real time streaming or real time streaming technology, and not necessarily be sort of lumped into what with everybody else that is in the live chat. So that was a really important aspect of the beginning of how we started to look at promotion marketing, public relations from that perspective.
Does educating a market mean you’re defining a category?
And do you think this educational approach is more common when brands businesses in the B2B tech space are almost defining a new category or where, you gave that example of live and real time being used in an unclear way, an undefined way to some extent. Would you say you're defining a category in terms of real time?
A hundred percent. Because one could argue that what we do isn't necessary or a necessity for every use case. So, real time streaming is still a bit of a niche to some extent, although I believe it's not going to be, I believe we're headed towards a win, not an if, for everybody to join and have their streams delivered in real time, but at least for now, we're still in a little bit of a niche market.
So yes, I do think that whether you're a startup in a new category, or if you're a more established company that's establishing a new division or a new product set, or even a new brand for a larger company, there is a certain amount of education that is needed to get consumers, fans, whoever your businesses is marketing to, or selling to, to better understand what you're doing, how you're doing it and why you're different from whoever it is that you're trying to separate yourself from.
Which institutions lead the way on market education?
You mentioned some of your key personas. I wondered do analysts come up at all? Like almost like the Gartners and I don't know whether there's anyone specifically in your industry. Because those are the often the people that are using terminologies incorrectly or defining the categories or putting companies in certain boxes.
You're right. I mean, how we measure streaming is somewhat new. I think companies like Nielsen have added a streaming measurement component to their product set. I still think it's hard to define and how many people are streaming is still a tough one for them, but for us, it wasn't as much those companies as the media who is talking about what does live and how does it work when they're streaming live?
Even companies, and I don't mean to call them out, but a company like ESPN when you watch a game on the new television and they're promoting another game that's coming up and they'll say, watch it on ESPN or live on the ESPN app. Well, it's not really live because unfortunately the technology they use comes with a significant delay in their stream.
So that's why we're trying to differentiate between the term live and the term real time. So I mean, to their credit, they don't use real time. So there isn't really an argument there, but we wanted to make sure that nobody is referring to us and what we stream as live.
Which channels can you use to educate a market?
Cool. Makes sense. And what about this use of channels? If you're taking an educational approach, are there specific channels that you think of as being more a focus for you in terms of PR and other things? But other areas that you've had to focus on more to get that educational messaging out there?
Yeah. It's a little bit of a challenge because we're not a business, a B2C company, we're a B2B company. Certainly you could argue we're B2B2C, but our direct relationship and our customer is typically another business. We're working with content owners, rights holders, broadcasters, sports leagues agencies that represent companies that own content, anybody that owns content basically, or the rights to content are the people that we do business with. So they're the ones that touch the consumer.
So for us, how do we market and how do we educate the business community is a little bit more challenging because we don't have as many tools at our disposal, but certainly the press, the media conferences, places that we can reach other businesses in person, webinars, things of that nature. Those are the tools that we've been able to use to help us educate the market.
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Which language should you use when educating a market?
I think what's interesting is exploring a little bit of the language being used for this kind of thing. You mentioned the range of different stakeholders. You talked about, within anything like this, there's the usual commercial business decision makers.
And then there's also the more technical ones. And, as with any B2B purchase decisions, with 5, 10, 15 people involved in going with a solution, such as yourselves. And so the language within the messaging can be hard to get right. What's your experience with this?
No, it is a language and that's not uncommon. Most business have their own sort of language to some extent that's unique to either them or to their business, but you're right. I mean, it's interesting. One of the things that we learned early on was what stakeholders should we be talking to?
And initially we really focused on the technical side of things because we are a technology company and our solution is a technology solution. So we really focused on the CTO and the people in their office. But one of the things that we learned over some time was that having the CTO in our corner is great, but they don't necessarily own the budget.
So it was important for us to have someone on the business side getting involved as early on in the process as possible. And in some cases now we even speak to somebody on the business side, whether it be the CMO or head of business development or different types of roles.
We sometimes end up speaking to them first because they're the ones that are making the overall business decision for their company and taking the company in a certain direction. So invariably they will bring in tech people because they have to evaluate our technology, but it's not that unusual for us to begin the dialogue on the business side and then bring in the technical stakeholders.
And so from your own marketing messaging perspective, do you focus on the business message and the commercial message more than anything and the technical messaging is secondary to that?
You know, I would say that we're trying to balance it a little bit. We are now at a point where for the first time we're going to start branching out from a marketing perspective and do some things that we haven't done in the past, like search engine optimisation and keywords, things of that nature. We're gonna be bringing on a new marketing automation tool.
I recently hired a new director of product marketing who comes from a little bit more of the technical side of things, which is great because my background isn't technical. So this is a person that's gonna really serve my right hand and help me assess things from a more technical marketing perspective. So we're going to look at things a little bit differently.
But the idea of what we're trying to do is try and bring in a little bit more balance to what we've done in the past and have it not just be press and PR, but also add some SEO. Obviously conferences will always be important to us, but trying to expand the marketing, trying to do a little bit more with social media, LinkedIn is a great avenue for us because it's a sort of more business oriented social network. So there are things that we want to try and do more of that we haven't done in the past.
Examples of educational campaigns
Are there examples of more educational campaigns or things that you have done with the educational side of things in mind? I don't know whether you approach things as a marketing team from more of a campaign basis or more of a always on approach? But it's always interesting to hear how different CMOs structure their campaigns.
Absolutely. So what we've done is we had this tagline, as I mentioned before, live and real time are not the same. And that was something that we went out with for probably the first two or three years of our existence and certainly our work with diffusion and spreading that message across.
But over the past, probably 12 to 18 months or so, maybe a little bit more we've changed the tagline and changed the approach to a more direct one, taking advantage of our value proposition. So our tagline now is real time in sync at scale. And the reason for that is so we can speak directly to the three pillars, as I mentioned before. The three pillars of what our technology solves right up front.
So there's no guessing as to what we bring to the table and I wanted it to be that way. So we can really talk and educate the market in a way that for the first few years it was, we're a new company, we're a real time streaming technology, we're not live, this is how we differentiate ourselves. Now that we're a little bit more established, this is what we really do, and this is what we do well. So it's now educating, it's step two in how we're marketing ourselves.
When can you move on from educational marketing?
And would you say that's become more direct in terms of, and maybe this becomes with that evolution of you're defining a category or educating the market early on, but then do you reach a stage where you can be a lot more direct again about features and benefits and what the technology does?
Because I think a lot of B2B companies are too quick to jump to, as you said before, talking about just the technology, how the product works, what it does, the solutions and less about the value created. Do you feel like now you're heading back more towards that direct approach?
Yeah. A hundred percent. And I think it's a fine line and you make a good point. It's a fine line as to when you make that change and how you switch from one campaign to the next one or how you graduate, if you will. So that was important. And it just felt like the time was right. We had signed Verizon to a much bigger deal. It was a point in our career where the company's life cycle, where the conversations we were having were with much bigger companies.
So I thought it was necessary to make a change and be more direct to your point and really speak to exactly what we do. So we could sort of speed up the conversations to get to exactly what we do, how we do it, what the business model is. Those are things that in the earlier days took us a little bit longer to get to, but now it's, who's the client, what are they looking for? What are their pain points? How can we solve the problems, you know, et cetera. So I think that's where we are now.
And how does that help from a competitor differentiation perspective? I don't know whether you are competing against the more legacy live streamers rather than realtime? So I assume there might be other competitors in the real time space as well.
Yes, I would say there's still a little bit of both. There are still some of the legacy players out there. Not every use case has to have real time streaming. So in some cases, somebody may say five or 10 seconds is enough, is fine, we don't need to lower it.
And in most cases, the reason for that is the companies, the content owners, whether it be a broadcaster or whatnot, the tech stacks that they have have been built on legacy technology. So for them to go ahead and change it to what we want to have ultimately requires a commitment and a decision from senior management to make that change.
And we're not blind to the fact that there's money that needs to be spent to make that change and resources have to be reallocated. But we look at it as a step back for three ahead. So we're really convinced that the market is gonna have to go there, it's just a matter of timing. Consumers are starting to flock to social media more and more and talk about their streams being delayed and it's not buffered and the qualities not great and things of that nature.
So ultimately over time that just can't be the norm anymore. And it doesn't have to be since there's technology from companies like ours that have solved those issues. So yeah, the time is getting close.
Absolutely. Well, we're pretty much out of time. I was going to ask you one final question to end on a positive, which is going to be what you're most excited about in the B2B marketing world with your CMO hat on? What are you excited about? You mentioned some of the things you're looking at are testing out new new things and some of SEO and paid channels and stuff. Are there any other things that you are excited about as 2022 gets underway?
Yeah, the world of sports betting has become a very important space for us and it's almost not all the states, but they're more than half the states now have some sort of betting legislation. So, we're starting to talk to some of the sports books directly and looking at marketing and even potentially some advertising with some of them, doing some, even I would dare to say more consumer oriented advertising.
So people out there know who we are and what we're able to do, and the types of things that we are powering. So I'm pretty excited about getting into that a little bit more and just the technology changes so quickly that you have to try and keep up. So pretty exciting times for sure.
Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of B2B tech companies overlook the partnership marketing side of things and doing joint campaigns. So yeah, if you've got those partnerships then it sounds exciting.
Especially for companies that aren't as well established, sometimes by partnering with somebody who is a little bit more established, like partnering with Verizon gave us a lot of credibility in the market and having that type of relationship means something because if they felt like they're comfortable enough working with us, then other companies could too. So that's where it goes.
Yeah, cool. Exciting times. So I'm looking forward to keeping an eye on how everything goes, but in the meantime, thank you for joining the podcast and for sharing all your experiences with us.
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