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Champagne Strategy

Champagne Strategy

By John James
WARNING: ill-suited for juniors and bureaucrats. This 'red pill' business podcast deconstructs world-class strategy focused on growth, marketing and sales with a sprinkling of tech and Champagne.

Anyone can draft strategy. Execution is where the battle is won. Connecting these phases can be challenging.

We interview experts at both. They move in tight circles and keep a low profile. They'll have battle scars to show, skin in the game and money in play. Learning from their practical wisdom is priceless.

Listen to an episode if you dare, but you've been warned. There's no going back
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Louise Broekman on how modern business advisory structures can mitigate risk and spur success - Episode 6

Champagne Strategy

Keaton Hulme-Jones - unraveling the mysterious world of programmatic display advertising - Episode 12
Programmatic display, video pre-roll, banner ads, skyscrapers, home page takeovers, leaderboards, MRECs, what the hell does it all mean? If you’re not advertising on search, social, content or digital audio, you’re most likely spending money on display advertising. Display advertising goes by many names, as we’ll find out in a minute, but this complex, murky world is a mysterious black box for many. In this industry, there was first talk of systemic ad fraud. Then the conversation shifted to brand safety and more recently, customer data protection with GDPR and CCPA. Things have almost become more complex as time has worn on. So we’re talking with one of the world’s experts in this area, Keaton to clear up all the mystery, myths and misconceptions. While tech companies won’t give much thought to this type of advertising, even large advertisers like P&G are addressing wastage in the supply chain and pushing for better transparency. With that said, programmatic display is the favourite punching bag of traditional-media-leading, rebate-friendly industry commentators who enjoy spreading fear and falsehoods. If you’re apprehensive already, don’t worry, we don’t get too technical here because it’s very easy to go down a rabbit hole that leads to nowhere constructive. With that said, if you don’t know what a server is, or the basics of advertising terms like reach, or impressions – this probably isn’t an episode you should listen to. See references and additional material related to this episode here
October 20, 2020
Alison Macintyre - foster motivated, high-growth teams in a modern, remote world - Episode 14
Hire slow, fire fast and blitzscale is often the mantra in Silicon Valley.  From personal experience, Alison believes in only one part of that statement. So we were intrigued to find more about her contrarian views regarding the management of global, remote, successful teams.  She's a self-described, "globetrotting multi-passionate pracademic", but also a genuine, loveable person underneath. This is rare in the cut-throat world of tech. Her approach to staff and team dynamics is unorthodox, yet extremely effective. The last company she worked for and her first job as a Chief of Staff, ended up in a successful exit for the founder to Automatic (owner of WordPress). So we wanted to delve more into this world, especially since this firm was 100% remote from day one. Given that most companies are currently in a similar situation, her wisdom in this area is very poignant.  Staff are the critical lifeblood of any fledgling company, especially service companies. But labor also forms one of the highest operating costs of any business. As she says, "when people get together, it's messy..." and there's few ways to avoid the mess.  In this episode, she talks about how recognizing the humanity in your human capital is not just an ethical way to manage people, but the benefits to your brand are exponential. Staff can be viewed as a marketing growth lever.  Her background is interesting to say the least. 25 years of extremely varied work experience has seen her work on farms, in ski resorts overseas, state and local government, health care, as a university lecturer, in research, and consulting. Somewhere in between she squeezed in a PHD in behavioral economics and became Chief of Staff for Prospress.  Alison believes that a good thought experiment for your organization is to "...imagine what your employees say to their friends and family about work on a weekend at a BBQ, or whatever the virtual version of a BBQ is these days". We talk about all the ways she has found teams can foster a healthy, human workplace in an increasingly online-dominant world.  Make no mistake, this is not a fluffy, idealist discussion about a fantasy work utopia or how you can write the best PDs/JDs. This is about high-level strategy and  tactics which you can implement to ensure your team is operating at it's maximum, regardless of the location or maturity.  Not many marketers talk about the importance of internal branding nor it's relation to the external, customer-facing brand. But, staff exude your brand at many touchpoints. To ignore their influence on commercial outcomes, is to ignore a large source of growth potential.  Find out how it's done right, in this interview with Alison Macintyre.  For all references, mentions and trailers go here
October 14, 2020
Andrew Roper - Rockstar royalty and wine. The secrets behind the grape and entrepreneurial success - Episode 15
You will never find real entrepreneurs doing laps of the motivational speaking circuits and flogging a bunch of online courses to the masses on social media. They are very busy people, with high demands for their time. Which is why you're in for a treat with this episode where we uncover someone who keeps a low profile within the wine and business world.  Supplier of wine and trusted beverage consultant to many of the elite rock-stars, actors and celebrities around the world. The likes of Richard Branson, Billy Joel, Benji Madden, Cameron Diaz, Paul Stanley and many more.  Andrew Roper is living a very interesting life and a very interesting character. Former business manager for infamous Melbourne gangster, Chopper Read, professional wine reviewer and a very astute businessman. His story is a fascinating one, which is why were needed to unwrap the layers of mystery and find out just how he did it.  If you're not into wine, it doesn't matter. We don't use jargon and talk about wine making techniques. We talk about wine in context of business, with loads of personal stories and anecdotes to boot. There are important lessons here regarding the power of the brand, stories, distribution, positioning, partnerships and referral networks.  If you read between the lines, you'll discover multiple gems of wisdom throughout this episode. Anyone who's into the world of business, marketing, growth, and wine should easily glean some very important takeaways.  I really don't need to sell this episode. Start listening and I'd be surprised if you don't find it fascinating.  For all references mentions and trailers go here
October 11, 2020
Jon Manning on modern pricing strategy, value and how to get pricing right - Episode 13
Pricing is one of the 4 P's of marketing. Before the bean-counters and financial analysts took over this domain, pricing sat firmly in the remit of the marketing department. Then the great purge happened and each of the other P's peeled off from marketing, fragmenting the critical strategic marketing discipline. There only so much that can be done by looking at spreadsheets and creating economic models. What was lost, was an understanding of how customer value manifests itself - the irrationality - the art.  Jon Manning is here to restore that connection, as he leverages his deep knowledge of economics, finance and marketing.  By default, the large majority of businesses will use a cost-plus pricing strategy which is a legacy pricing method, firmly rooted in product manufacturing.  While there's a lot of cross-over with the product domain, this episode discusses pricing strategies for services almost exclusively. Jon's worked for many sectors including, petroleum, airlines, internet cafes, SaaS and more. As the founder of outsourced pricing strategy consultancy marketplace, Pricing Prophets, there isn't much he hasn't been exposed to. So we needed to hear the best ways to price our product offering and the mistakes to avoid.  He cleverly wraps many stories and real-life examples from his career into the mix. Even pricing novices will be able to understand the concepts that we're discussing. Have a listen and I'm sure there's a follow up on the cards.  For all references, mentions and trailers go here 
September 22, 2020
Chris Walker - Modern B2B SaaS demand generation, marketing and sales - Episode 11
You’ve probably heard him on LinkedIn or from his popular podcast, but today the microphone is reversed and we get to probe a little further into the world of Chris Walker. We ask him all the questions that he doesn't normally get asked.  If you’ve listened to him online, he shoots from the sales & marketing hip as much as a Texan ranger, but underneath this tell-it-like-it-is personality lies a nuanced, pragmatic professional, completely unbound by convention. It’s clear, early on that he is privy to the wisdom that only comes from being on the front-line, honing his craft. He's someone who’s close to customers and executing with deadly precision. This is why we needed to talk. This isn't a tactical discussion about any specific channel, but at the same time this is not a fluffy, top-level strategy conversation by any means. This is a warts and all expose on the approaches that work in a modern setting. We get to hear more about the approach he’s been perfecting since he started his own eCommerce businesses in his early 20s and I layer some of my own personal experiences on top as well. If you work for a B2B SaaS company, which spits out hundreds of blog posts, encouraging people to download vanilla e-book downloads and sink a chunk of your budget into trade shows as your primary lead generation tactic - listening to this episode may be quite confronting. If you’re been brainwashed by martec vendors’ who are all busy trying to convince you about a new phrase they've coined which ends in ‘marketing’, then you’ll need to prepare yourself.  This is a must-listen for sales teams, marketing teams, growth teams, executives and founders, especially in the B2B SaaS sector. With that said, the nuggets you’ll get from listening are just as relevant to the broader B2B sector as well. Especially the discussion about metrics and performance.  With so much misinformation and tech vendors peddling their own agendas - it was time to cut through all the BS and get Chris’ take on the current state of demand gen, growth, marketing and sales. Check out the mentions, references and trailers to this episode here 
September 5, 2020
Matt Watkinson on modern customer experience strategy which results in growth - Episode 9
Matt Watkinson was talking about customer experience even before it became a boardroom buzzword. In fact by 2012, he'd already written a famous book on the topic. As a successful author and practitioner in the field of CX for over a decade, he’s someone who looks at the discipline from a much wider perspective than most. This multi-disciplinary approach to his craft makes him deadly when it comes to solving business problems and  improving commercial performance.  He's well-read and highly intellectual, so in this episode we get to delve into many areas aide from the topic at hand. So if you're interested in the broader connections between marketing, strategy, growth or finance, this discussion is highly relevant.  Which hotel did he say in that costs $14000 per night and what is the secret to a good whisky? What is his personal history with Ogilvy god, Rory Sutherland? What is the CX holy trinity, and the fuse box project tactic?  What's the fail-safe way to create your own buzzword and why are they are so prolific? Which of the 450+ books in the field of CX which Matt has read, does he recommend you read? Which statement about CX made him very unpopular in some circles? What’s the one thing you shouldn't forget to do if you’re ever invited to speak at an event? What’s the difference between a CX practitioner vs an expert? The easy way to spot the difference. What is the one customer feedback question every hotel (and every business for that matter) should be asking their customers but fail to do so? What mistakes did he make when writing his books which he would change? All of this and more answered in a long, but 'worth it' episode - especially if you like whisky.  For more info about references and mentions during this episode and the trailer, visit here
September 1, 2020
Vikki Ross - words that sell and the value of great copywriting - Episode 10
Vikki Ross is one of the UK and Europe's most famous copywriters which is why I hope she doesn't critique my terrible writing right here.  Very early on in her career, Vikki decided that copywriting was what she wanted to do. Her unwavering commitment and mastery of the craft is awe inspiring. She’s worked as a copywriter for both large and small brands. From in-house work for brands such as The Body Shop,, and Virgin Media to her more recent consulting work for brands like Disney, Harry Potter, Sky News, Formula 1, Durex, Tesco, Sony Music and more. Professional accolades aside, what's also immediately apparent if you meet Vikki, is her firm support for other professional women. She's also an ardent leader of the global copywriting community, taking a firm leadership position with efforts to push the industry forward constructively.  Best of all, she doesn’t just talk and write about it, she does it. From Copycabana events in the early days to Copywriters Unite, she’s constantly advocating for progress and respect within the profession. Does she think AI is a threat to copywriting and what's the best way to measure its value? How is copywriting different from other forms of writing or content production. Can bad grammar and brevity be better than the opposite?  We discuss all of these things and more. Including, how the brand story-telling has gone wrong, and even why she loves working with legal departments! We ask about the things that prevent good copywriting from being published and Vikki tells us what to look for when hiring a professional.  What work did Harry and Megan approach her about? What are her must-read books on copywriting? What is an unmissable opportunity female copywriters should be taking advantage of right now? All of these questions and more are answered in this episode so click the button and have a listen now!  For a full list of references, mentions and trailers to this episode, visit here
August 27, 2020
Kathryn Rutknowski on the brutal reality of customer experience strategy that works - Episode 5
Customer experience aka CX. Is it just another buzzword or new name for customer support? Well it's neither. Kathryn lays down the truth bombs hard in this episode, cutting right through the fluff surrounding this mysterious discipline. Her multi-disciplinary experience working for firms both large and small, has meant her perspective on customer experience is extremely valuable. Naturally, we wanted to ask her everything and she didn't disappoint.  We discuss everything from CX metrics, to the hallmarks of junior vs senior teams. We talk about the 70% silent complainer majority, the processes and strategies she implements and much, much more.  Plus we sip a nip or two of gin and talk about her journey from big finance to tech. If you work in CX, Marketing, Customer Support, or as an executive and want to know the ins and outs of customer experience, you need to listen to this episode.  Note: this is an edited re-release episode which differs slightly from the original release of June 29. For all references, mentions and trailers visit this page   
August 26, 2020
Robin Daniels on marketing in the tech world - Confessions of a tech CMO - Episode 8
How do you do marketing for a tech company? Well we asked someone who's been there since the first tech bubble pop in 2001. We learn how marketing in the tech world has changed over the past 20 years. What's stayed the same and what's changed. What's the latest and greatest and everything else in between. Robin Daniels is the current CMO of Matterport and ex-CMO of WeWork, and he's held senior positions at Box, Vera, Salesforce and more prior. He's experienced the whole gambit of the SaaS world and stems from a solid product marketing background. So we had to find out how he approaches marketing in the modern tech world world. What to do, what not to do and everything in between.  For all references, mentions and trailers related to this episode, visit this page
July 27, 2020
Edgar Baum on measuring brands' contribution to revenue with mathematical accuracy - The evaluation of intangibles - Episode 7
There's brand marketers on one side and Edgar Baum on the other. He has mathematically proven the complex relationship between brand and revenue. Edgar is even called as an expert witness in court cases, and has developed an ISO valuation standard, such is the depth and integrity of his knowledge regarding the evaluation of intangible assets. Why is Tesla so valuable? Why are CPG/FMCG brands under attack? Is a brand more than a logo or your brand design guideline document? How does a brand work and why do people buy? If you've a fan of the work that Ehrenberg-Bass is doing in the field of branding, this is the perfect complement to this level of discussion. Warning: not suitable for the brand-fluff marketing types or CFO's suck in the legacy world of tangible assets and traditional accounting practice.  This is a fresh take on the concept of brands from the triple perspective of a marketer, a financier and a mathematician.  Listening to this episode could be confronting for those who do not possess an open mind.  For all mentions, references and trailers to this episode, go here
July 5, 2020
Louise Broekman on how modern business advisory structures can mitigate risk and spur success - Episode 6
There's nothing worse than acting on poor advice. Sometimes it can be better to do nothing at all in retrospect. As a business owner, how to you ensure that you're receiving the best quality advice at the time? What are the different options out there and what are their pros and cons? Louise is the founder of The Advisory Board Center, the world's only global body for formalized advisory boards. In this interview she explains why it can be so effective to leverage world-class, independent advisers who work collaboratively to solve complex business problems. Every business right now is looking at ways to maximize the economics within their organisations.We discuss the difference between an advisors and consultants, her success using an advisory board to grow her own company, why the US was obsessed with Australian lemon myrtle during WW2 and even penguins. If you are a business owner, board member, executive or entrepreneur, this is essential listening. For more information about things referenced, mentioned in the episode or trailers go here
July 2, 2020
Shadi Taleb on the future of retail, mass customization and personalization - Episode 4
Post COVID the online economy is booming but which retailers are being left behind? What new technology is out there to help retailers replicate the in-store experience online? What does retail look like in the future as traditional, globalised production networks are put pressure by economic lock-downs. Shadi Taleb gives us a detailed glimpse into this future. He tells us about the most lucrative new marketing channel that exists but which few marketers are familiar with - mass personalization. His team has created tech which makes this process cost effective, even for the smallest brands in the market. We go through his entrepreneurial journey, how he found a gap in the market and how he views himself as a facilitator in a market that's being put under immense competitive strain.  From his work with major brands such as BigW, Nestle, and Mondelez (owner of Cadbury) through to pioneering world-first, personalized AR experiences. If you’re interested in product marketing, personalization, retail, eCommerce and tech, this is an episode you shouldn't miss. This is his second podcast interview ever, so quite a rare coup for this marketing channel series.  For all references, mentions and trailers, go to this page
June 28, 2020
Anton Buchner talks positioning strategy. How to pivot your way to marketing and business success - Episode 3
We’ve all heard, how you say something is sometimes more important than what you say, but few realize this maxim can be true in business also. Sometimes it's not your product or what you’re selling that’s important, but how you sell it to the market that makes all the difference. Positioning is one of the most misunderstood and jargon-ridden areas of marketing strategy. We've all seen a positioning strategy dominated by a litany of perceptual maps, competitive matrices and a boatload of ethereal brand jargon. This is why we needed to speak to Anton to help cut through all of the positioning fluff by drawing on his years of practical experience.  Anton’s worked for global agencies as well as client side. He's been a consultant for both big and small brands. He’s worked in multiple sectors from tech through to FMCG, services and product. He’s personally drafted strategy as well as executed tactical plans, from direct mail to website development and more.  He confesses upfront that he’s not textbook learnt, but has instead developed his own simple processes which are dangerously effective.  In this episode, we learn the secrets behind Apple and Virgin’s successful positioning strategy. We learn the critical difference between, purpose, pivoting, pitching and positioning. We also find out which of the different positioning strategies is his favourite.  Don’t worry, this isn't an esoteric discussion and you don't need to have any deep prior knowledge before listening. Anton cleverly wraps wisdom into his stories and practical career examples to let the points he’s making sink in. There's key leanings for all marketers, all innovators, entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in brand or product. For all mentions, references and trailers go to this page
June 28, 2020
Tim Beanland uncovers the world of podcasting and production - Episode 2
By tapping into Tim’s first hand knowledge we provide you with many juicy details which you can take away and either start or manage a successful podcast. This is one of our 'expert guide' episodes where we delve into one particular marketing channel in depth and provide you with a comprehensive guide.  We cover all the basics from picking a theme, to finding your niche, to getting famous guests, preparation, equipment, software, music, distribution and promotion. We talk about both general approaches and specific tactics in each of these areas, even the names of different tools and hardware to use. While this episode is first and foremost a guide, we also touch on Tim’s story and he graciously opens up about a topic close to his heart near the end. If you’ve ever wondered how the world of podcasting works, this is an unmissable episode. For all references, mentions and trailers go here
June 25, 2020
Andrew Walker's multi-million dollar success and the Growth Mindset - Episode 1
We've brought Andrew Walker back into the spotlight by convincing him to do his first podcast interview in years. He's modest and usually keeps a low profile but he's one of the best examples of how powerful the growth mindset can be on someone's life.  There was a pivotal moment which forced him to change for the better. Learn why he gave up a pretigious, high-paying job in consulting to pursue a different trajectory which ultimately led him towards business success and the recent sale of his company for ten's of millions of dollars.  If you want a practical guide to the implementation of the growth mindset in your life and in business - this is the episode you need to listen to.  Lots of juicy nuggets of widsom, tips, tricks, books to read and methods to follow.  View all the references and links mentioned in the article via this page
June 5, 2020