By Leigh Ann Hubbard

Marketing Mysteries Solved roots out killers among us.

Weird for a B2B podcast.

But these killers aren’t human. They’re marketing pitfalls — camouflaged assassins that elude identification and waste months, even years, sometimes killing businesses.

Not to worry, though. Wendy O’Donovan Phillips and her team at Big Buzz (a Foresight partner) are on the case.

Among all the B2B podcasts out there, Marketing Mysteries Solved, which launched April 30, stands out as unique and insightful. It’s true-life mystery meets marketing insights meets DIY how-to. In the first episode, the guest’s identity is even hidden to protect trade secrets.

In each monthly show, Wendy interviews a senior living or health care executive about a confounding case of “why aren’t we doing better?” The discussion reveals how Wendy “dusts for clues” and finds the hidden issue. And every episode includes actionable takeaways.

We caught up with Wendy to get insights into how she solves the biggest marketing mysteries.

Q: What inspired you to mix genres, combining B2B advice with true-life mysteries?

A: Our clients! Clients come to us to solve complex marketing challenges that they’re facing. We’re like sleuths.

They almost always come with some clues, like, “We’re not hitting our numbers with online marketing,” or, “Our CEOs not seeing the analytics that she wants to see in order to show that the marketing is producing returns.” Those are clues to a larger mystery.

What we do best is solve the big mystery. With most marketing agencies, if you call them and say, “I want you to do my online marketing,” they’ll say, “We’ll do your online marketing!” But they’re just focusing on one little clue.

By the time our phone rings — and usually by the time any organization is facing any marketing challenge — it’s much bigger than just the first clue.

Q: What is the larger mystery?

A: It almost always comes down to giving the right marketing people the time to really think about marketing — to be strategic, instead of just firing off projects or ads or writing a bunch of content. It’s coming back out to that 25,000-foot view on a regular basis and asking, “Why are we doing these things? Are these the right things, right now?”

And that’s not a one-time conversation. It’s a once quarterly conversation. Once they get into a rhythm of that, it becomes second nature, like how you go over the business financials once quarterly.

Too many times, senior living organizations think finance and operations are what’s running the organization. When we integrate marketing into that trifecta, then marketing is an equal part of the success.

And this is not to insinuate that you need this giant, sophisticated internal marketing team. It’s absolutely appropriate to use an external marketing partner. Almost all senior living organizations do. But have one or two key people on the internal team — a director of marketing or a chief marketing officer who can align with executives on the financial and operations side.

Q: There seems to be a theme developing in the podcast that solving the mystery is not about trial and error. There’s a science to this detective work.

A: In the movies, detectives have corkboards, a tack for every one of the clues, and the string that connects the clues. They have visuals that show them where they are in the case and how all the clues stack up. Really great marketers have that too.

Those visuals can take the form of a one-page strategic plan or a process mapped out visually or documented messaging from voice-of-the-customer data. Ideally, they take the form of all three things — and probably about half a dozen tools like that — that the whole team can regularly revisit and say, “This is where we’ve been. This is where we’re headed. This is why. This is how we’re going to report to the CEO. And this is how we’re going to solve this whole marketing mystery to create the momentum, success, jobs, and lives we have always envisioned.”

Q: What’s the first step in your mystery-solving process?

A: We start with a SWOT analysis — another great tool for getting the visual in front of you: What are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? That’s the first step with all of our prospective clients, totally complimentary.

And then when I ask about weaknesses and they say “online marketing,” I get a clue. I go, “What else?” And they go, “Well, our internal team — we’re not reporting results very well.” That’s a clue. So I’m writing all this down into a SWOT matrix in front of them, so they get the full visual of their current scenario.

We start with a whole list of the general needs. But then, the SWOT analysis allows both me and the prospect to drill down to the real problem. I often ask them, what’s killing the organization fastest? What’s the actual mystery to solve here?

Q: You have other tools in your box, such as the voice-of-the-customer survey you mentioned. But everything you do is customized. Even the SWOT process has been specially honed. How did you come up with your mystery-solving methods?

A: I’ve been in business for 14 years. I read a ton, and I listen, listen, listen. I think everybody has a gift — that one thing that is just God-given. And my gift is taking a lot of information from a lot of different sources, and then honing in on the most important, and then creating a tool and a process out of that.

The voice-of-the-customer data collection and synthesis was the first major marketing process that I simplified. I understood the premise, knew there are myriad different ways to do it, and distilled it down to its five most important parts, to make it accessible to and fruitful for healthcare and senior living organizations.

I’ve systematically built a career on taking the very complex and making it simple. And now it is literally why people hire us.

Q: In one of the episodes, you said digital marketing can be “a dark hole of just chasing leads rather than looking at the full picture.” What did you mean by that?

A: Digital marketing is really seductive. It’s perceived to be less expensive. It’s perceived to be something we can just turn on and off like a light switch. It’s perceived to be, as [the guest in episode 1] Lee said, “the panacea for all marketing ailments.” Just turn on the ads, and they will come.

It’s a dark hole because then we’re just focused on one out of 50 different ways to market the senior living organization. We’re totally negating the fact that we have current residents and families who are more than willing to bring us referrals, and they’re warm leads. We’re ignoring the fact that we have a strong brand that we can use to gain more awareness in all kinds of emerging avant-garde ways.

The other tricky part is that it’s not as simple as just turning on the ads. Ads have to be powered with exactly the right message, exactly that right thumbprint that is unique to your organization. If you haven’t done the work on dusting for that print, please do not waste your time running ads. They are just going to be lost in a sea of sameness.

Q: What are some episodes listeners can look forward to?

A: We have one coming up that’s around fixing the broken marketing team. And the solution to the mystery is not different people or a different marketing agency. The solution already exists within the people who are already involved.

Listen to Marketing Mysteries Solved on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or Spotify. To experience Wendy’s sleuthing in person, click here to book a free marketing strategy session.