Transcript: Takeaways From Forrester’s B2B Summit and Expanding Your Customer Marketing Skillset with Irwin Hipsman

On this episode, I was joined by Irwin Hipsman, Customer Marketing Director at Forrester and Top 100 CMA Influencer. Irwin was recently at Forrester’s B2B Summit North America, and he came away excited about the themes he noticed from the keynote sessions that are directly relevant to customer marketing, especially in encouraging marketers as a whole to be much more involved in the post-sales journey. We also discuss his experience shifting from advocacy to demand gen customer marketing, his advice and favorite resources for advocacy practitioners who want to add this to their skillset and the very real differences between how you should approach upsell versus cross sell. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Irwin. 

Margot Leong: Hey Irwin, thank you so much for joining us on Beating the Drum. I’m really excited to have you on as a guest. 

Irwin Hipsman: Oh, it’s great to be here, Margot. I do have two caveats before we start into the conversation. 

One is, I just wanna thank you for doing this podcast. You’ve really been spreading the word about customer marketing. It’s been a lonely place for a few years, and you’ve helped really make it a thing. So it’s just an honor to be on it. And I understand this is the 80th podcast, so super excited. 

 And the other thing is that what we’ll be talking about represents the four organizations I’ve worked at as a customer marketing practitioner. I’m at Forrester now. I’m not an analyst. A lot of people know Forrester and they know people like Amy Bills and Laura Ramos. I’m on the customer marketing team at Forrester and I’ll be speaking about a variety of experiences throughout. 

Margot Leong: Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m super appreciative that you’re on the show and we’re going to benefit from the wisdom of your wide experience in this space. Can you tell us a little bit about your background, that journey to customer marketing and advocacy? 

Irwin Hipsman: Yeah. Similar to you, we both started our careers, so to speak in radio. I was in community radio in a small town in Yellow Springs, Ohio. And then when I moved back to Boston, I got very involved with public access cable television. Started the first nonprofit public access cable TV station in Somerville, Massachusetts, and then started the one in Cambridge. So you’re beginning to see a theme already in the starting up of things.

Then I worked for a state agency in Massachusetts with distance learning for K to 12 classrooms. Then I worked for two companies in Boulder. I didn’t move there, but I visited a lot, which was great in the video conferencing, PictureTel, people maybe remember, and web conferencing.

And then really pivoted into my SaaS journey. So I worked at a company called Brainshark, where I was in sales, customer success and advocacy. So a little trilingual, can speak all three languages. 

At Crimson Hexagon, which was a social media analytics company, spent time with advocacy and customer success, so really honed the craft and at NextThink, which was a Swiss company. That’s when I started pivoting to customer marketing. And at Forrester, I’m exclusively doing customer marketing. 

And the way I define advocacy, customer marketing is the overview. And within that there are two disciplines. The vast majority of people are in the advocacy side of customer marketing, and then myself and a few people are in the what I call the “demand gen” side of customer marketing: cross-sell, in-app messaging, segmentation, open rates, attribution, things like that. 

Margot Leong: Got it. In your role at Forrester, can you share a little bit more about what you’re doing there? Because you’re not an analyst, but I do think that making some of those distinctions would be helpful for people. 

Irwin Hipsman: Yeah, so at Forrester we have a team, it’s led by the VP of Customer Experience. We have an advocacy person, so that’s her full-time job. We have a voice of the customer person and then myself is customer marketing.

 As I think about customer marketing, I’m looking at data health. Do we know who our customers are? Do we know what their titles are? Things like that. There’s also a lot of talk around cross-sell and upsell often used in the same breath, but to me they’re very different and we can certainly talk about that. So I spent a lot of time thinking about that. 

Deep into segmentation, partnering with sales on various campaigns to communicate with customers. So very different and frankly, I don’t really get to talk to many customers, which is why I love going to the Forrester events because I get a chance to talk to customers. Our advocacy and voice of the customer people really spend a lot of time with customers. 

And that’s been the big pivot is when I was doing advocacy at other companies, all I did all day long was talk to customers. And here I’m thinking about how to communicate with customers in a one-to-many fashion and it’s just in really segmented, highly efficient manner.

Margot Leong: You’ve been on the advocacy side of the coin. Now you’re heavy on the customer marketing side of the coin. Do you find that background has helped to inform or make you a better, more thoughtful customer marketer. I’m curious about how the two can play with each other. 

Irwin Hipsman: I might say something a little controversial, but imagine if you took a classic demand gen person and just say, okay, your role is now customer marketing. Things like how to communicate with customers. You have your ebook or your white paper or whatever it is, you need to speak differently to customers than you do to prospects and a demand gen person would put that prospect marketing lens on it. Not that there are not some things to be learned from prospect marketing, of course, but the way you communicate with customers would be a real challenge for the demand gen person.

On the other hand, people who are in advocacy, you’ve just dropped them into a customer marketing role. It would be a challenge for them because you’re not talking to customers as much as you used to. You’re communicating with them in an asynchronous manner. You need to learn from your demand gen people the tools of the trade and the methodologies. 

When I started the pivot at the Swiss company into customer marketing, it was challenging because I just didn’t even know the language. I was like, what are they talking about? And I can’t ask out loud because they’ll think, I don’t know what I’m talking, what I’m doing. But it took a long time to be able to do that pivot from advocacy to customer marketing and just understand how it’s different. But knowing how to communicate with customers was really valuable because the classic demand gen people may not know exactly how to communicate with customers.

Margot Leong: This is definitely something we’ve covered on the podcast before is that difference between how demand gen talks versus the way that customer marketing talks and that actually a lot of departments within most companies don’t actually interface that much with customers. For sure, demand gen, they’ve got a specific set of things that they’re focused on, but a lot of times they’re taking their cues learning about prospects directly from product marketing.

So they’re not the ones directly trying to understand how they think and interact with their work. They’re more focused on sort of execution, experimentation, right?

Irwin Hipsman: Exactly. And even things like a webinar. Sometimes we’ll do a webinar at Forrester that we’ll invite clients to. But more often than not, even if we have a webinar on a similar topic, I’ll argue that we need to do two separate webinars because the way you do a webinar on whatever that topic is, gen AI or whatever, is going to be different for prospects. And there may be some subtleties and there may be some not subtleties. Certainly some of the message and following up at the end will be very different. 

Sometimes you need to do things, think about translation. You need the English and the French version. You need the customer and the prospect version. 

Margot Leong: You’d mentioned that the vast majority of people within that customer marketing umbrella are in advocacy. That sort of traditional concept of advocacy, references, customer programs, right? All that good stuff has been around for a good amount of time right now, even though it’s still nascent and growing. 

But it does feel as though life cycle marketing conceptually makes so much sense, but still even newer. What’s your sense of that trend and if customer marketing, that set of skills is more needed, more on the rise? How are you feeling about this as someone who is in customer marketing? 

Irwin Hipsman: Yeah. I’m starting to see more and more people with titles with lifecycle marketing, so it’s not a unicorn at this point. There are more and more people with it. There was a really interesting session at the B2B Summit in that when you look at your classic lifecycle marketing, you can have different words, there’ll be a discover phase and evaluate to commit, initiate, participate, actualize, advocate. Companies might name it different things, five, seven to ten different items in that life cycle. And your classic sort of visual of that would be each one is equal. 

From the marketer’s perspective, and this was the slide that jumped out at me more than any other, three quarters of the energy is put into the first three phases. The discovery, evaluate, commit, frankly, pre-sales. And marketing doesn’t get that involved in the post-sales. Maybe 25% of the work with post-sales, and it gets pushed to other parts of the organization. Customer success, for example, support, et cetera. 

But if you look at it from the customer perspective, they look at that only 25% of their energy is on discover, evaluate, commit, and the rest of their work is all in the post-sales. Initiating, onboarding, utilization, participate, actualize, showing ROI, and then advocate. And I think where the life cycle marketers can come into the picture is begin to have marketing shift a little bit from 75% on that pre-sales, 25% post-sales to a closer balance. Maybe one third post-sales and two thirds pre-sales and not just have marketing sort of wipe their hands. Say, well the sale’s done, we don’t have any more role because customer success is coming. It’s taking over.

That’s where lifecycle marketer and a customer marketer, a demand gen customer marketer can come in and shift that balance a little bit because, again, that’s the way the customer thinks about it as opposed to the way the company thinks about it. 

Margot Leong: Why was this so exciting to you to hear at the summit? 

Irwin Hipsman: One is because intuitively, we would all know this, but the fact that it’s summit from the keynote stage, and I may have some confirmation bias in that, customer marketer, but literally from the keynote stage. 

There were slides specifically around the economic and functional value that customers received, but also symbolic and experiential value. And at sessions, people were talking about that symbolic and experiential value that customers receive and how important that is because that’s what generates that lasting impression and differentiates your company from the competition is what happens after the sale as opposed to before.

Customer marketers know this, but there are CMOs in the audience and they’re hearing an analyst firm, respected analyst firm like Forrester in multiple sessions talking about lifecycle marketing, defining the dimensions of value. And that’s what jumped out at me is oh, I’m not alone anymore. This is fantastic. 

Margot Leong: I’m hoping that this does signal a shift, especially in this more tenuous economic climate, that the focus on retention needs to be there. And it’s something that you and I know intuitively, but that marketers will think about this as something truly valuable. 

Irwin Hipsman: And from a career perspective, if you’re an advocacy person, at least understanding the language of demand gen customer marketing, dipping your toes in it, spending time with marketing ops, spending time with demand gen people, launching maybe a small campaign just to get your feet wet is super valuable from a career perspective.

 One is you’re learning another language, but two, you’re increasing your value for the organization. 

Margot Leong: I’d love to spend some time on this because hearing about job descriptions that people have been sending me, people that have reached out to me that have had strong experience in advocacy, but then they’re saying, okay, what is this? What do they mean when they say life cycle or customer marketing? There’s this whole other section of things that as companies that are writing job descriptions that may not have a ton of experience in this area. They would love for it to be, you can do both sides of the coin and I’m really not seeing a lot of people that have that experience. I think it’s actually quite few that have done advocacy and actual lifecycle deep customer marketing. 

 I guess I’d be curious to learn a little bit more about some of the challenges you experienced as you pivoted there because it is a totally different set of skills and also providing some insight into okay, in order to make yourself more attractive in the future to be able to have this other set of skills. What are the things that you would recommend that people can do now to start setting themselves up for this? What are the things that they have to develop? 

Irwin Hipsman: I’m not a customer marketing person, so I’m not trained as a marketing person. And I was lucky at the Swiss company that I was able to do both advocacy and learned the craft of customer marketing. I may not have been great at it, I got pretty good at it and at Forrester, I’m actually getting a lot better at it. So it takes time. 

but there are things. Clearly, sitting with people in the demand gen organization at your company and your marketing ops people to understand the language. I spend a lot of time on segmentation and data health. How do you keep the database clean? If I was an advocacy person, I might volunteer to the marketing ops, like give me a thousand names. I’ll go through them on LinkedIn and clean up the database of our most important customers. I’ll make sure that they’re still at the company, and their title is correct and their location is correct, because we can talk about privacy and location a little bit later. 

Part one is use the internal resources and show some interest and then, we go to conferences, so like Base and Influitive and Slapfive have conferences. Ask them, Hey, could you create a customer marketing track? I was just at a conference by one of the vendors and they literally had two tracks. One was for advocacy, one was for customer marketing, so people could start meeting other people as well because there aren’t that many pure customer marketing people. Find them, it’s a very open community. I’m happy to spend a half hour with somebody just to talk about customer marketing. 

On the email side, there’s a great podcast called Email After Hours and then Guru 2023 Online conference. It’s a free conference. It’s amazing. These people, they’re sending billions of emails out. So they talk about subject lines and open rates. What’s working today, what’s not working? Do you put the person’s first name in the subject line or not? They would recommend not. So it’s just learning the craft that way. 

And then there’s some Slack channels: CMA Weekly, CX Pros and Customer Marketing, a lot of them have a little side group of demand gen customer marketing people. So begin to figure out who some of those folks are and just develop relationships with them.

Margot Leong: Another podcast I would throw out there, in addition to the ones that you mentioned just to get more familiarity with these terms outside of customer advocacy and customer marketing. It’s Marketing School, so it’s a daily podcast. It’s only a few minutes every single day, but basically covers anything you could think of within B2B marketing from SEO, SEM, content marketing, but a lot of it’s focused more on the growth side of things, but I found that really useful when I was transitioning into sort of an all around marketing role is there were just so many acronyms, so many things that people talked about where I was like, I have no clue what these people were talking about. But all these little bite-sized pieces of information, I was starting to develop that language and that familiarity in my head. 

And it does inform, even if you wanna stay within customer marketing and customer advocacy forever, knowing how people think on the demand gen side and the growth side about pipeline, about leads, it does inform how you think about this role as well. It makes you a better, more all-rounded advocacy and customer marketing person. 

Irwin Hipsman: Yeah, totally. And some of the vendors, find out who your vendor is, Marketo, Eloqua, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, HubSpot and just learn about the vendor itself and how they do things because they’re the ones who the organization is depending on to help with communication. In-app messaging tools. Any of the tools you currently use within the company, get fluent on them. 

Margot Leong: Going back to the fact that this happened at the B2B summit for Forrester, this is people that really have a point of view about what’s gonna be happening in the industry for B2B marketing. People starting to realize that post-sales is just as important, if not sometimes more important than pre-sales. Why do you think this shift is happening? What is the catalyst for people coming to this realization?

Irwin Hipsman: Clearly, it’s harder and harder to sign up new logos. We all know that a huge percentage of revenue comes from the installed base and as I think companies understand upsell. So how do we sell, let’s say more seats to a current license or we have a new feature that we’re charging for or services. Those are all upsell motions, but companies are beginning to realize that they need to do cross-sell as well and very few companies have really cracked the code on cross-sell. 

And by cross-sell, I mean you’re selling to either a new division, let’s say it’s a large enterprise company, you sell to Amazon and now you’re selling to AWS, for example. That’s a new division. It’s almost like a new sell as the new logo. But you have some advantages that you’ve done business with the organization. 

Or you’re selling to a brand new group of people. And to me that would be a cross sell and the upsell is relatively easy in that you can pull the list or customers will call you up and say, oh, I need more of what I already have because we just hired some new people. 

Cross-sell what people don’t talk about is that it’s a very manual process. You just can’t pull a list of your accounts and say well, I’m gonna cross-sell to them. What does that really mean? Because you’ve gotta find a new buying center, not just sell more stuff to the same group, because that’s just upsell. And the account teams are generally pretty good at doing the upsell motion. 

So cross-sell’s like, who has the list, how we could generate the list? Can sales provide us the list or do we have to spend a lot of time generating the list? Do we have to vet the list with the sales team? How do we send a relevant message to that person as opposed to classic prospect, which sort of tends to be a wider, more generic message. If you’re doing a cross-sell, there’s gotta be a reason why you’re reaching out to that person, because there’s a lot more customization. 

There could be 25 versions of that same email going to a thousand people and who’s getting what version? Has that person been at the company a long time that you’re cross-selling or are they brand new? So there’s so many variables. People tend to underestimate the amount of work it takes to do a cross-sell. 

And that was Amy Bill’s presentation. It was called “Surprise, You Have A Cross-sell Goal.” And she talked all about the difference between upsell and cross-sell. What she said, which was optimistic is that all the basics are in place to do a cross sell motion. You have all the ingredients. It’s going into a different type of oven. It’s a different type of food. How do you create that recipe where you’re feeding a lot people who all have very custom taste buds. So one person needs a vegan, another person needs a vegetarian, another person needs a kosher, on and on, and you know that customization is what makes cross-sell challenging, but the pieces are in place.

And what Amy says is, do a pilot, cut your teeth. If you’re successful, shout it out. Same way advocacy shouts out their success. And sort of, the joke that I had with Amy is, come September, a lot of us in customer marketing or even customer advocacy are gonna hear from somebody in the organization saying, Hey, we need to run a cross-sell campaign for Q4, and it’s September.

So anything you can do now, I’m begging people, even just getting your list together and figuring out like, what are we selling? Who are we selling it to? Who do I need to work with? Because you can’t do a cross-sell campaign on your own. There’s a lot of people involved. Let’s start meeting. Let’s make sure we define things internally so we’re talking the same language. We know what everyone means when we say cross-sell, how it’s not an upsell, it’s a cross sell. And this is why it’s different. And here are the motions and what we have to do and how do we do sales enablement to start pulling together people now informally to have that conversation.

Margot Leong: From a marketing perspective, how we are playing into this, we’re providing the tools at scale to be able to assist the company to achieve these goals, right? But it always seems pretty overwhelming to me. I mean, I’ve done some of this, but it’s really not been to the level that I think I could have done it which is very segmentation heavy, very data focused, and really thinking about mapping all of those various customer journeys out. 

Something I’d love to get your thoughts on is for someone that is either dipping their toe in it or has the remit to test this out, how can you prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount that you could be doing? I’m curious what your thoughts would be there. 

Irwin Hipsman: Yeah, I would probably argue that many companies in the SaaS world will have two types of customers. They’re larger enterprise customers and they’re smaller SMB or mid-market or core customers. And the easiest way to look at might be those accounts that have a CSM because not all accounts get a CSM for obvious reasons.

Let’s leave those alone because there’s a CSM and an account manager, they may have multiple accounts, but that’s their job is to pay attention to those accounts. They’re the ones with the one-to-one relationship they can ask for, potentially, Hey, who with the company can I reach out to talk about what we do?

It’s those accounts without a CSM or an account manager might have 50 of them, and really they’re focused on the renewal as opposed to the growth. Zero in on that because the stakes aren’t as high. If a mistake is made, you don’t wanna make a mistake with your number three customer and annoy them and hear back like, why are you sending this email to my colleague and mentioning my name? I didn’t give you approval for that.

In a smaller account, where the CSM isn’t going to reach out to them anyway, to do that would be a place to cut your teeth. You might keep it, for example, just in North America because there could be some cultural differences, language differences, keep the campaign relatively simple. Think about what’s the one product or feature or functionality or module or whatever it is we wanna upsell. Start with your list of 500 potential accounts and narrow it down to 50. There’s nothing wrong with that. Let’s just try it with a small subset that we’re pretty clear this is the right fit.

We don’t have to vet it with a lot of people. There’s maybe seven or eight account managers that are involved in that. Let’s run the list by them, make sure everyone’s okay. For that pilot, I would just keep it really small.

Margot Leong: I really like that. So you have spent some time in advocacy, now you’re in customer marketing. What is it that you are enjoying about customer marketing versus advocacy or if there’s anything surprising to you about now really diving deep into this world.

Irwin Hipsman: I’ll tell you the one thing I’m glad I don’t do anymore. I’m glad I don’t do gifting anymore because I swear I have PTSD whenever we talk about gifting. 

Second is, I’m glad that nobody comes to me to say, Irwin, we need a senior person at a Fortune 500 company to speak at our event in three weeks. Those two things just drove me absolutely crazy. 

Margot Leong: Try five days. 

Irwin Hipsman: Yeah, exactly. And the reality is that most prospects at these events or even customers can’t even relate to a senior person at a Fortune 500 company because they have so many resources, et cetera, et cetera. And yeah, it’s a great name and I get it, but the people in the room, they all say, I’m not Google, I’m not Ford Motors, we can’t do what they do. So it’s not relevant to me. So that’s the part I’m happy I don’t do anymore. 

I do miss the user groups because I love doing customer user groups. The experiential value customers get, user groups are at the top of that because not only do they get to interact with the company, they can interact with other customers and clearly love that. 

And what I really like it’s just learning something new and we get to experiment a lot and we get to try things out and pilot things out. Even though I’ve been doing what I call demand gen customer marketing for two years now, if I can crack the code on the cross sell, that will be amazing. So that’s what keeps me going and makes it exciting.

Margot Leong: What I found interesting too about playing around with this arena is that with advocacy as you had mentioned, right? It’s very one-to-one. You’re building these direct relationships with people and stepping back a little bit, testing numbers that are a bit more at scale, testing messaging at that scale, you’re finding out insights about your customers that I don’t think you would’ve had as much access to with just the one-to-one relationships. 

Maybe that was just me, but there were things that I discovered about customers that I had never touched before, that I was like, wow, they’re interacting with this in a really interesting way, and I would’ve just never realized that had I not experimented with sending these types of campaigns or messages. 

And I think there is something scary about doing it a little bit more at scale, but because you also have that background and knowing how to speak to customers, I think it’s like a very powerful tool to then think about how to fast track the process for them to become advocates, because you’re also controlling that side of it from a customer marketing standpoint. You are accelerating the rate, hopefully, at which they become advocates, right? You’re not letting it just be up to the gods or whatever. Customer marketing can play a really interesting part in that. 

Irwin Hipsman: Yeah, and I work closely with Irina, who’s our advocacy person. I’m looking for patterns and trends that in a one-to-one connection you don’t necessarily see. And I can say, look, this is what I’m seeing people gravitate to and resonate with. Let’s try to find somebody with this sort of profile to ask to become an advocate. 

Margot Leong: That’s what gets me really excited is just other ways to understand your customers and the way that you can feed each other, advocacy and customer marketing. That’s so interesting. 

Something that you had also mentioned at the B2B Summit, at one of the sessions they had talked about giving more weight to the personal value of advocacy activities for champions at that more individual level. Experiential. I’d love to hear more about this. So can you share a little bit more about the context? 

Irwin Hipsman: When they talk about the four dimensions of value, so the keynote was buyer value was the core of your customer obsessed growth engine. And so the first two are the economic and functional. Economic value is the pricing model, the ROI. What is the internal cost to the organization to bring your product in. Functional is the product itself. Does it work? Is it easy to use? The onboarding, how’s the support if you need that sort of help? Those are the table stakes that everybody expects.

But the symbolic and experiential are where you really get a chance to make that impression and differentiate from your competitor. So experiential would be things like having customers participate in a product design co-creation session. The user group meetings, customer advisory boards. Come to events, engage with executives. So there’s a bit of an experience there. 

And then the other one is symbolic. Symbolic is classic advocacy. People participating in community and being a leader in the community.

So when we think about symbolic and experiential value, clearly the vendor gets a lot of value out of people participating in product design and user groups. The awards, personal branding to have someone speak in an event. But I would argue that the employee at the customer themselves generate as much value from symbolic and experiential as the vendor does.

Margot Leong: Why did that stand out to you as something of note from this session? 

Irwin Hipsman: Well, it stood out because, I certainly know this and any customer marketing person in the room would know that, go, yeah, I know that. But the fact that this is being said at a keynote session and repeated at four or five other sessions throughout, and there are CMOs in that room listening, this isn’t just a customer marketing user group that we have in Boston, when we get together and talk. This is the decision makers at companies, people holding budget who are hearing that message. So that is super exciting to me. 

Margot Leong: Why do you think it’s valuable then for marketers to be hearing that customers themselves get just as much value from participating in these activities? 

Irwin Hipsman: When I look around the room at an event like that, and there are other sessions that start digging deeper into symbolic and experiential value. Laura Ramos did a session on redefining the CSM and the customer marketing partnership. Someone else did a presentation of what CMOs should know about lifecycle marketing. At the keynote level, it’s high level, there’s one slide and you’re talking about it.

But then there’s this opportunity to say, wow. I can dig in deeper into a specific topic like the relationship between customer success and customer marketing. 

 It’s also a budgetary issue. At every place I’ve worked, other than Forrester, I never had a budget. I didn’t know what it was. I would have to go to somebody, can I do this? Yeah, we’ve got money for it. How much money do I have this year on this? You’re part of the larger marketing budget. We don’t separate that out. 

That’s a conversation to now have with leadership is, hey, next, we’re getting into planning season. Not that far away. Companies will start planning. How about this year we break out customer marketing to a separate budget line? Doesn’t have to be huge. That shows you’ve made it, you’re on the radar. We trust you. You’re doing a good job. Is can you get some dedicated budget? It doesn’t have to be a lot. 

Margot Leong: Something I didn’t even think about is that you now have the backing of Forrester as this analyst firm that is noticing these trends and is actively advocating for these things to be happening and CMOs are here, they’re hearing this, and you can come back and bring this as evidence that things are moving in this direction and that these things are important. It’s nice to have that backing. 

Irwin Hipsman: Frankly, when I was doing advocacy, it was very hard to get a seat at the table. When I’m doing demand gen customer marketing, it’s much more reasonable to get a seat at the table when things are being discussed and decisions getting made. So that’s the other piece of it is getting licensed to start collaborating across the organization. 

Margot Leong: Was there anything else from the summit that stood out to you that you think would be interesting for customer marketers or customer advocacy practitioners to be aware of?

Irwin Hipsman: We’ve talked about how some of this, any customer marketing person would’ve known intuitively. Something I did not know, and a little bit of shame on me is privacy regulations. So there was a session by Stephanie Liu, one of our analysts, and basically there are four states right now that have privacy regulations.

So think about GDPR at the state level. California, Virginia, Connecticut and Colorado. Connecticut and Colorado started literally last week. Utah, at the end of the year, is gonna have its privacy regulations. Five more states are going to have it over the next year or two. These are legislation passed, and five more states are actively discussing bills.

There’s this organization, International Association of Privacy Professionals. You can go look and see what’s happening in your state, how are the rules different because the rules are different. 

But two things that came out of this for me is one is we need to start thinking about where our customers actually live. Let’s just look at the United States. Keep it simple for a second. Just because the company is located in Massachusetts, doesn’t mean your user, your contact, is located in Massachusetts. They may be in Connecticut. And Connecticut has different data privacy laws than Massachusetts. Do you know where your customers live? You don’t need the street address, it’s just the state. So you can begin to comply with those privacy regulations.

And then this whole question of opting in and opting out, transactional versus marketing emails and really coming up. Here are the 10 types of communications that customer marketing does. Which ones are transactional, which ones are marketing. Marketing, you’d have to respect any opt-outs. And then which ones are gray that we really need to have a conversation and decide what’s it going to be? 

So again, a good thing to do this summer is to start looking at those privacy regulations. Maybe talking to your legal person who thinks about that and just have a conversation with them about how does this really impact? What should I be paying attention to? I don’t wanna go down rabbit holes, but should I be worrying about learning what state they reside in? They might say no. Wait till the feds come out with their rules, which is perfectly appropriate response. Or no, we really need to figure this out. So that really jumped out at me as something I just did not know, and that alone was worth attending the conference. 

Margot Leong: At my last company, those cookie popups that we are all extremely aware of, and that we never read and click through immediately just to get it away from us, I had to implement one of those in our site. And that was pretty eye-opening to realize that GDPR of course applies, but also California has its own set of rules that apply. As you said, there are going to be eventually, nine or 10 states that are going to have something very specific and tailored to them.

Very important to start being aware of because these fines are not a joking matter. 

Irwin Hipsman: And not only cost, it’s reputation. Same way it’s not a good look when you’ve been hacked, it’s not a good look when the regulators come down at you for data privacy issues.

Margot Leong: I’m really excited that you were there and shared with us some of these insights. The fact that this is happening at something that is not only solely about customer marketing, the fact that marketers are being aware of this, something that we just feel so intuitively, that’s massive. 

I’m really hoping that we’re gonna see more and more interest in these types of roles. More interest in customer marketers, more interest in advocacy and the combining of those two. But I think it is very important for people that if they want to expand their skillsets, trying to learn the craft of customer marketing now, that will set you up to be in a very good place in the future just because it is a role that’s just not that common. It’s hard to find those people. 

Irwin Hipsman: There’s probably about 10 of us that I’ve identified and we call each other up once in a while. There’s more, obviously. There’s some people I started to develop relationships with and it’s been great. And I know that, you know, it’s not like everyone else has figured it out, we’re the last one to the party. We’re all trying to get into the party and figure it out. 

Margot Leong: So the last question is, as always, where can people connect with you if they want to chat more, pick your brain about customer marketing.

Irwin Hipsman: Clearly on LinkedIn, I’ve been doing something over the past two or three months where every week, Monday mornings, I release what I call a customer marketing hack. So it’s just a short post. One of the next hacks will be about privacy regulations. It’s almost real time. Like I’ll hear something and need to get that out and people need to be aware of this. So I think I’ve done about 15 of them now. they’re pretty easy to put out because they’re short form, they’re a paragraph. But yeah, connect with me on LinkedIn. I’d love to participate. 

Margot Leong: Thank you so much for coming on the show, Irwin. I really appreciated it. 

Irwin Hipsman: Yeah, good luck. This was great to be on podcast number 80. Happy to be here. 

Margot Leong: Thank you. 

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Beating The Drum. For more interviews with advocacy leaders and tips on creating customers that will sing your praises, head on over to our website, If you enjoyed today’s show, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to rate and review us. If you know someone that would be a great fit for the show, I would love to hear about it. You can reach out at Take care, everybody.



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