Jonathan Loriaux & Marion Duchatelet interview - Sobriété & Marketing podcast

This is a rather special issue as it's a cross interview between the 2 hosts of the podcast "Sobriety & Marketing... possible?"

Jonathan Loriaux, who is also founder of Badsender, and myself Marion Duchatelet, emailing consultant.

In this episode we wanted to take a step back from the 16 interviews we've recorded over the past year.

Have they enabled us to make progress in our professional thinking? Did our conception of responsible marketing and communications changed? Has it changed anything in the way we do our job, the way we carry out our missions and the way we develop? Badsender services ?

And finally, is it possible to market sobriety?

Enjoy your listening!

Part 1: Jonathan Loriaux interviews Marion Duchatelet

This recording is also available on all podcast platforms:

Spotify
Apple Podcast
Deezer

Part 2: Marion Duchatelet interviews Jonathan Loriaux

This recording is also available on all podcast platforms:

Spotify
Apple Podcast
Deezer

Text transcription of podcast part 1

Jonathan Loriaux
Hi Marion.

Marion Duchatelet
Hi Jon.

Jonathan Loriaux
Today, we decided to do a special episode. Originally, we were going to do it for the tenth episode, but then we got a bit carried away. We've now published around ten episodes of our podcast, and we wanted to do a cross-interview with Marion to take stock and see what we've learnt from the first episodes published since October. Today, I'll be interviewing Marion and then she'll be doing the opposite to publish a double episode, which will be a good way of taking stock and seeing all the information we've received and what we've retained, and perhaps seeing what we need to do better for the rest of the podcast. Marion, I'm going to ask you pretty much the same question I ask all the interviewees in this podcast, even though we know each other very well. Could you tell us a little about your background? How did you come to meet Badsender? And what do you do on a day-to-day basis at the agency and, if you feel like it, outside the agency too?

Marion Duchatelet
I've been working since about 2005-2006. The beginning of my career, I don't really like that word, but the beginning of my professional life was at Cabestan, which was a marketing campaign management router. I stayed there for eight or nine years. That's where I cut my teeth in terms of emailing. It was a great experience. I left Cabestan because I was fed up with Paris. I was a Parisian at the time and my partner and I wanted to move back to Lille. So I spent two years telecommuting with Cabestan, going to Paris twice a week. After that, having one foot in Paris and one in Lille wasn't always easy for my professional life, especially as I became a mother at the same time. So I did a two-year stint in an agency in Lille, specializing in data, but acquisition data. I didn't like it at all. At that point, it was a bit of a professional void. I wasn't having any fun at all. Then I saw a post by Mr Jonathan Loriaux on Linkedin, saying that you were looking for a strategic emailing consultant. When I read the article, it sounded a lot like what I knew how to do. Especially since you said it could be freelance. You weren't very particular about how you recruited the person. So I sent you a little e-mail. And then things started to happen.

Jonathan Loriaux
And we went for a wine tasting at EMDay in Strasbourg to seal the alliance.

Marion Duchatelet
Ah yes, maybe it was then.

Jonathan Loriaux
Don't you remember?

Marion Duchatelet
No, not wine, because I was pregnant. You were drinking wine alone.

Jonathan Loriaux
Ah yes, that must have been it. It's possible, but I wasn't alone.

Marion Duchatelet
I easily convinced you to work with me.

Jonathan Loriaux
Yes! And since then, because we've been working together for five-six years, what's your day-to-day job at Badsender?

Marion Duchatelet
As if you didn't know 😉

Jonathan Loriaux
Yes, but people don't know that.

Marion Duchatelet
On a day-to-day basis, I advise our customers on their strategy in the broad sense of the term, emailing strategy. What I like to do are audits, starting points, so that I can take stock of their current strategy. And then I make a list of recommendations, with a roadmap to spread these recommendations out over time. I also do coaching for these customers. So, in general, after the audit, so that these recommendations can be implemented, there are coaching sessions that last for a year or so. And then, I do a lot of marketing for Badsender in the sense that I host a live show about every other Thursday. A lot of articles, a lot of guides, a lot of writing, in fact, and a lot of speaking.

Jonathan Loriaux
In fact, about half the Badsender team write a lot, or at least try to write a lot, because it's not always easy to find the time and the right slots to concentrate on it. You're one of the most outspoken people on climate emergency issues, and in fact you insist on the term "climate emergency" on a daily basis at Badsender. I was wondering if you've always had this level of activism, and if not, how did it come about? What's the process that leads you to ask yourself so many questions on a daily basis? And God knows you ask yourself questions. I'm in a good position to know.

Marion Duchatelet
No, no, I haven't been that militant at all. I've always had this authentic, straightforward side. However, this militant side came about six years ago. In Mons-en-Baroeul, the town where I live, there was a conference on permaculture. And at the time, I thought permaculture was all about how to grow your own vegetable garden. And so I said to my husband, who loves vegetable gardening and was just starting to get interested in permaculture, "Go ahead, it sounds really interesting." And when he came back from there, I saw the stress in his eyes as he said, "Marion, this is serious shit. You absolutely must keep your parents' land (my parents are farmers) because it's going to be shit soon." And in fact, in our relationship, I'm the stressed one and he's the guy who puts things into perspective, and to see my husband stressed out, I said to myself, "Oh shit, this is really fucked up."

Jonathan Loriaux
You've put yourself under even more stress.

Marion Duchatelet
Yeah. So I read, I listen to lots of podcasts, I read a lot. And then, as you learn, you learn. And once you've been alerted and trained on these subjects, it takes you by storm and it's hard to turn back.

Jonathan Loriaux
It's better not to train if you don't want to stress out... It's ironic. I'm going to ask you the classic question we ask all our guests. What is your definition of the word "sobriety"? What is your definition of the word "marketing"?

Marion Duchatelet
Let me start with the word "marketing". I see two types of marketing. Often, it's just one word, but for me, there's strategic marketing. In general, it's not the customers, it's not our target, it's not the CRM managers. It's really product positioning, what target we're aiming at, what price we're putting on it, what the sales pitch is. And then there's operational marketing, which I imagine is more for the Badsender audience, which is really the techniques for applying this strategic marketing, i.e. sales techniques, brand awareness techniques, communication techniques. In fact, this kind of marketing is very much linked to corporate communication and advertising. And the word "sobriety" is a separate word that may or may not guide the marketing of companies. And for me, it means going back to the essential needs to live properly and happily. So, it challenges the consumer society and it also challenges the idea that happiness and pleasure necessarily depend on money.

Jonathan Loriaux
Getting back to marketing, I ask the question in this way. But I'm not sure you always ask it that way. But have you had many very different answers? In the end, I have the impression that the notion of sobriety is much clearer for our guests than marketing, which is often linked to what the people we've invited do on a daily basis. It's a word that's used all over the place, every day, all the time, and yet I get the impression that it's not all that clear.

Marion Duchatelet
No, it's a bit of a mess in people's heads. In fact, when people ask what marketing is, they immediately think of operational marketing, i.e. sales techniques. We don't talk too much about product positioning, sales pitches, editorial lines, etc., which are all part of marketing, but are closely linked to communication. That's why I make a strong link between marketing and communication, but I find that when you ask the question "What is marketing for a company?", it's very quickly put into marketing techniques.

Jonathan Loriaux
Yes, I agree with you. Have the various discussions with the different guests enabled you to make any progress in your personal and, above all, professional reflections? At the end of the day, since that's kind of the aim of this podcast, we're asking ourselves questions, Badsender is asking itself questions and we want to try and understand where we should be going on questions of sobriety? Has anything changed in your thinking?

Marion Duchatelet
On the professional side, I ask myself a lot of questions about the usefulness of our profession. As you know, these are questions I'm always asking myself.

Jonathan Loriaux
Did that help you make sense of it?

Marion Duchatelet
In any case, it's helped me to offer my customers support in working out their editorial line and tone of voice, something we didn't do at all a few months ago. Because for me, the choice of words and the choice of visuals in these marketing messages are crucial if we want to move towards sobriety. In my professional reflections, there are services. I spend much less time, or at least debate less, on innovations. Because in fact, when you ask the interviewees, they don't give a damn about emailing innovations.

Jonathan Loriaux
What you mean is that by using low-tech marketing techniques, we're able to do just as well as if we were bored looking for something new to impress the gallery.

Marion Duchatelet
Low-tech and an editorial line, knowing exactly what you want to say, that, for me, exceeds all the opening rates and click-through rates in the world. So yes, in the case of Badsender's services, I hope it has helped to reorient them. Personally, I'm less and less comfortable, if I stay on the professional side, with the status of Badsender, the SAS. I have the impression that the way we run the company doesn't correspond to that status. Every time, in every podcast, in every episode, we end up talking about the very purpose of a company, why make money and the business model? I think we're losing touch with that.

Jonathan Loriaux
That's an interesting point, because I've noticed some interesting things about that too. With regard to the business model and the traditional capitalist model of the companies we support, do you feel that there's a fairly harmonized direction in the companies that call themselves eco-responsible, or is it again a case of all over the place and not everyone necessarily has the same idea of what it means to create and run a company?

Marion Duchatelet
I think there's a double question in your question.

Jonathan Loriaux
Perhaps.

Marion Duchatelet
If you stay with the status, I find that there are quite a few cooperatives being created that don't have the same philosophy as a classic company. But on the other hand, in the companies we interviewed, there are still, I think, some committed companies and some very committed companies. And in fact, for me, the cursor is not in the same place. We're going to have more cooperative models, or even assault models in the highly committed companies, and we're going to remain on a rather capitalist model for a company that claims to be committed.

Jonathan Loriaux
And when you say "committed", what does that mean? Is it linked to a militant logic in which, on the one hand, you try to do things properly and, on the other, you assert it and try to shake up an entire sector and go a little further than just the management of your company?

Marion Duchatelet
In committed companies, it's those who want to change usage and consumption patterns and who continue to use classic marketing techniques with the aim of taking market share from those who are less virtuous. They have found a virtuous way of using and consuming, and I'm thinking of local or European production, not made in China, etc...

Jonathan Loriaux
At the end of the day, that's the justification they all give us. It's that we, with our economic activity, want to replace economic activity that is less virtuous. That's a pretty global way of looking at things.

Marion Duchatelet
Yes, but in very committed companies, I think there's an extra step, i.e. they'll align their marketing with their values. So, if their values are sobriety, their marketing pressure will be much less. There'll be no promotion. It'll be very much on the editorial line. There won't be too much promotion, if any at all. It won't even be promotional. They're going to rely much more on marketing techniques that we're not used to seeing, i.e. they're going to convince through voice. Convincing by voice means that they're going to do conferences to death, TEDx, trade shows, to convince by presence and voice and not by buying keywords, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, etc. They're going to be much less focused on marketing techniques that we're not used to seeing. They're going to be much less focused on classic marketing acquisition techniques, where you also have to have a lot of budget to hope to appear. Acquisition in these models is increasingly complicated. They're much more likely to use voice marketing techniques. And they're going to take more time, because you have to prepare for a conference, you have to go and then you have to do it.

Jonathan Loriaux
And then you have to make yourself visible enough to have the legitimacy to go there too.

Marion Duchatelet
There you have it. I don't think the cursor is in the same place in very committed or committed companies. And if I continue my thought on this, it's that often these companies don't just think about their company. They also think in a systemic way, and as a result, they take time out from their voluntary work to say to themselves, "I'm not just going to change my company, but I'm going to change my company's sector of activity, and I'm going to get involved in charities, or I'm going to create one to try and change the laws, and then to try and go up to the government and change all that. So there's a side to this where you don't just look at your own company, but at the industry as a whole, and you have a much broader vision than just your own company. These are companies that don't earn miles and cents, that sometimes have shared salaries, exactly the same shared salary from the CIO to the person who's just been recruited. So there's no hierarchy at that level, and they decide to grow more slowly. They take it on completely. And what's more, and this is what I find marvellous, is that in addition to having a treasury to monitor every month, without being completely serene at first, they take time to change the system.

Jonathan Loriaux
So, that ties in a little with the question I had just after. Is it possible to market sobriety? You add another layer by saying that it's the most committed companies that are not only marketing sobriety, but also marketing sobriety, in the sense that they have few resources, so they have to be more creative to try and bring visibility not only to their products, but also to the cause they're defending behind them. We're not really talking about an NGO, but in NGOs, there are people in charge of advocacy. In the end, the marketing of these companies is more about advocacy.

Marion Duchatelet
Yes, I quite agree with you on that. It's possible to do sober marketing, but you also have to accept the fact that if you want your marketing to be the image of your values, sober marketing means sending fewer emails and seeing only one newsletter a month. That's what they usually do. It's more like a monthly newsletter and a sponsorship scenario. They rely heavily on referrals, word-of-mouth, you telling your friends we're hot and a welcome email. But these aren't complex marketing scenarios.

Jonathan Loriaux
As consultants and marketing agencies, we have nothing to sell them.

Marion Duchatelet
Maybe when it comes to tools, they're a bit confused, choosing a tool like that. In general, they have routing tools that we classify as "basic". But among these basic tools, we know that there are some that are more or less worthwhile. And on that point, they're a bit confused, picking up a tool like that at random. But yes, they're not going to go to the trouble of doing some crazy integration, choosing an email builder 100 % email builder. But on the other hand, when you talk to them about accessibility and eco-design, I find they're a lot more receptive than when you talk about innovation and dynamic personalization.

Jonathan Loriaux
So, to move on to the tools area, are the people you interviewed careful (perhaps again, there's a big difference between the committed and the very committed) about where they invest their money? "Do I invest it in tools that have the same values as I do? Do I give money to Facebook or Google? Do I integrate Amazon's marketplace?"

Marion Duchatelet
In highly committed companies, they want to free themselves from the GAFAs at all costs. They're not going to want to give a tune to Facebook, Google or Instagram. They don't know about the routing tool. And even when we talk about it, there isn't really one that stands out on those values, that's clear and plain. On the other hand, alongside routers, "the very committed" are looking for opensource tools. In the day-to-day running of their business, they're not going to use Word, PowerPoint and so on. They'll go for opensource tools, and that guides them. Choosing between A and B, they'll look much more closely at the values of their service providers.

Jonathan Loriaux
Is there one, without being jealous, that has made a bigger impression on you than the others? Even among those that may not have been published yet.

Marion Duchatelet
I think this is the second one I've registered, it's the Mana mani company, which is really a very small structure. But it was the girl who made me realize that no, I don't give a dime to Facebook, I don't give a dime to Instagram. So when you've been in marketing for 15 years, you ask her "How do you get your name out there then?" She tells me that her business has always been profitable. As soon as she started her business, it was profitable. But on the other hand, she's always decided to be 5. At one point, there were even two or three. It was still profitable, but the aim was not to grow like crazy. She lives very well like that. The people she works with live well, and earn decent salaries. So she keeps the company going like this, while respecting its values, without the usual marketing techniques and without seeking growth at all costs. And it works.

Jonathan Loriaux
Okay. What strikes me about what you're saying is that those you call "the most committed" are generally the smallest. Because in the end, the ones who are willing to put money on the table to advertise on Facebook or Google, and who perhaps also have a model in which they had investors who allowed them to have a budget for customer acquisition, are the ones who have grown the most. Finally, there's a little knot in the brain. If the aim is to increase the proportion of responsible consumption to the detriment of less responsible consumption, at some point you have to speed things up. I'm playing devil's advocate here, and I don't necessarily mean exactly what I say, but in the end, if we want to accelerate the transition in consumption patterns, there has to be sufficient growth in responsible businesses. And we know that there are some who are suffering, especially in the clothing sector, where it seems pretty complicated to get started. A lot of them have started up in recent years. So, in the end, this very committed model, where we don't want to grow very much, is setting an example, but is it really with this way of doing things that we'll be able to really shake up all the more traditional markets next door?

Marion Duchatelet
It's all those knots in the brain. Is there a tipping point between becoming big or staying small?

Jonathan Loriaux
We're asking ourselves the same question. That's why we're here.

Marion Duchatelet
But then, I have the impression that if you want to get everyone on board, as you say, these are laws that have to be broken. And then there's the whole philosophy of life. Because who says "I'm getting fatter, fatter, fatter"? You can't fool yourself. You still spend a lot of time at work. Do you want to spend your time doing that, getting fatter, fatter, fatter, without necessarily changing the system, and therefore the laws, and having less time to see your children or your family? Or your activities? You were asking me about the personal and professional reflections you've gained from these podcasts? For me, there's also the notion of working time. I think we have to have time for associations. Among your five days a week, I think you need one day, maybe two, to work for charities or to look after your children, your parents, anyone who needs help. And then, what's the other knot in your brain that always ties everything up? How much paid work do you need to make a decent living, but who will also be able to free up time for you and your family? In short, it's a mess.

Jonathan Loriaux
Okay. If we go that way, we're here for another two hours. Maybe we'll do another episode on that. But after that, what I'm hearing is that there's an important way to get back to changing consumption patterns. In the end, perhaps "the very committed", as you call them, are the ones who are pushing the hardest for change at this level, because they've realized that without this lever, we wouldn't necessarily get very far.

Marion Duchatelet
After that, I find that in "the committed", those who want to grow their business in the hope of taking market share from less virtuous companies, I find that downright laudable, but I wonder how you give in. There's a term called responsible capitalism. It's when you combine the profitability of your economic enterprise with transition. You give the illusion of change, but nothing really happens. At the level of your company, yes, what you sell is much more virtuous than what someone else sells, but the profitability remains with the company. There's less sharing of wealth. I don't know why I got into this.

Jonathan Loriaux
I don't know either, but it doesn't matter. I think it's great. Does it make a difference in your work with your customers to have set up this podcast? After all these reflections and examples you've had, isn't it also a bit frustrating to continue helping certain companies who haven't necessarily grasped the urgency of the situation? Even though I think you can talk about it with just about anyone, it's rare that you get slapped in the face and told "I'm not interested". Doesn't it get your brain in knots on a daily basis? Although I know you're very good at getting knots in your brain, so whatever happens, I'm sure there are some. But how do you deal with these knots? And what kind of knots do you get into?

Marion Duchatelet
Again, there are two questions in your questions?

Jonathan Loriaux
Yes, there are even three question marks in my notes, if you must know.

Marion Duchatelet
Firstly, has it changed the way I work? Well, yes, in the sense that when I'm doing diagnostics, often for emailing or newsletters, I'm going to place a lot more importance on the editorial line than I did a year or two ago. So, the choice of words, really the message side. The weight of the message and what it conveys. I'm going to ask the question every time, in terms of marketing automation, is this really in line with your values? Like doing a cart abandonment email, a retargeting email. When you call yourself a "virtuous company", it's easy to wonder whether you should be implementing marketing automation in the first place, whereas before, as a consultant, it was a matter of course. So yes, every time, there's a question.

Jonathan Loriaux
Let me cut you off there, on retargeting and abandoned shopping carts. Why would it be complicated, or not necessarily a good idea, from a sobriety point of view? Because from a profitability point of view, it's perfectly understandable.

Marion Duchatelet
It depends on what you're driving and what you're selling, but you're driving consumption, really. "You didn't go through with your purchase, do you still want to buy?" You're pushing consumption, so it's not sober.

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Jonathan Loriaux
What you're saying is that if someone abandons a product in their basket, it may be because they didn't really need it. And so to come back to them is perhaps to try and force them to consume a product that wasn't necessarily necessary.

Marion Duchatelet
Yes.
One of your other questions was, "How does this change your services?" Every time I try to introduce a lot more editorial and get advertisers to do more editorial. When I explain why, and in particular because climate emergency they all agree with me, but every time it's "the co. plan." In fact, the CRM or emailing managers in front of me obey a sales plan that is not decided by them, but by the offer department. They are confronted with "It's my boss who wants this." And when I ask my boss about it, he replies, "It's the co. plan." In fact, they're all convinced. There's no problem talking to them about it. But to take action, that's the co plan. So we do the co plan.

Jonathan Loriaux
But doesn't their N+1 end up answering the same thing? "But these are the objectives of general management, and general management says these are the objectives of the board of directors." So we stick to that. My question is, "In the end, isn't our job, in some cases on these issues, also to provide activist kits so that the people we're in contact with are able to go up to a higher level to put forward good arguments that could, not necessarily revolutionize things in an instant, but at least influence the way of thinking a little?"

Marion Duchatelet
That's where I find that what we're doing has deadly limits. We're only dealing with technical marketing. We're not involved in strategic marketing, as I said at the start of this podcast, i.e. product positioning, company positioning, etc. So, we're going to influence our customer, who may eventually go up, but from there to supplying kits, I think you have to be there. You have to talk to management. And there are consultants who are in the process of setting up. There are consulting agencies specializing in responsible communications and strategy, and they talk to the CoDir. And it's they who have the most influence on turning the company around. As far as I'm concerned, we're a bit too far down the road.

Jonathan Loriaux
What I find quite funny, but ironic, is that at the end of the day, there's a fairly high level of awareness of ecological issues among our customers, the people we're in daily contact with. In any case, they'd like to, but it's true that the frustration for them, as for us, is that in practice, they don't know where to start. "Yes, ok, we can make positive decisions on the eco-design of emails, websites, etc... Because that's operational." On the other hand, when it comes to the strategy part, which is knowing what the essence of the message is, they don't dare move because it would be against the line that's been defined three or four floors up.

Marion Duchatelet
Except that there are those who dare to make a move when they have autonomy over their budget, which isn't always the case, and when emailing isn't strategic from a budgetary point of view. You see, I'm thinking of a customer we have. You've got an offer that appears, both on the website and on inserts, and in emailing, which is pushed via several levers. The emailing lever brings them a bit of money, but it's not what carries the most weight. As a result, I've managed to get things moving, and instead of doing one promotional email a week, I'm now saying "Look, we'll do an email during the promotional period, say from May 30 to June 15. You know, the whole period of the offer. And they have a scoring tool that says, "The offer is sent at least once to all people during this time slot and to all eligible people." Whereas before, we used to think in terms of one promotional email per week, so if your commercial offer lasted six weeks, that's six promotional emails. But now, I've managed to do it by talking to the customer, because emailing isn't strategic from a budgetary point of view. But maybe this is our chance to try and convince them, because I think that in some companies, in any case, emailing isn't what makes the most money.

Jonathan Loriaux
Yes, and in others, this won't exactly be the case. Let's imagine a typical company that has really - and I stress the "really" - taken the measure of the climate emergency, that has done its carbon footprint for the first time, that is training its teams, that has done a climate mural, a 2tonnes workshop, etc... They're really going all out and not just greenwashing, what would be the marketing priority for you? What are we changing first? Basically, we have a real will, we've trained ourselves, we understand the scope of the issue and the problem. We're getting away from Badsender, but in marketing as a whole, what's the starting point for a successful marketing transition?

Marion Duchatelet
I keep coming back to the same thing. That would be to ask ourselves the questions we don't ask ourselves, which I'm starting to ask with our new customers: "Who are your customers?" "What do you do on a daily basis? "And what are the brakes or obstacles to switching to your product?" Every time, I work on the sales pitch, the product pitch, the sales pitch. I don't really like the word sales, but that's what it's all about.

Jonathan Loriaux
You have to sell from time to time.

Marion Duchatelet
And I find that by asking these questions: "Why would they go through you? "What's your industry?" "What's bugging you about your market?" "Why you and not someone else, etc.?" we can move forward. I've been doing this with customers lately. As a result, you have a list of topics that emerge. I'm thinking of accounting software for self-employed nurses. We did this exercise and they were like, "Yeah, I'm fed up. There's a bad reputation for accounting, a bad reputation for that word, for that sector. They say it's for old people. They say that accountants are for old people, and that we're going to get screwed anyway. Contracts are impossible to read. And then there's Doctolib, which is taking market share even though they know nothing about accounting." And the chicks, you see, they just went wild. I asked them: "And why would they go through you?" and they replied: "Yes, because we do... our chartered accountant takes them by the hand, calls them once a fortnight and not once a year, as is the case with traditional chartered accountancy firms, and because we know our business, and we're capable of reading a contract, and in fact, it's impossible to migrate from one service provider to another. Everyone says it's possible, but it's impossible." They really went wild. At the end of the workshop, we came up with a list of topics. That's always the editorial line.

Jonathan Loriaux
Yes, but at the same time, it's going back to the basics of what makes you authentic.

Marion Duchatelet
And that's it. That's what I like to do. At some point, you've got your list of topics, and you can direct those topics: "This topic here, it would be nice to tell prospects. This topic here, it would be nice to tell customers." Because once you're a customer, there's that question you ask yourself. "This subject, it's got some prospects who are a bit hot." And in fact, you manage to address your subjects according to your targets. As a result, you have your marketing automation scenario, well, your subjects, your marketing automation scenarios that come naturally. And you see that you have three things to say in the pre-sales phase. That's three emails. And in fact, every time, these emails are welcome, because they're really about subjects that interest people, who are going to receive them. I love working like that.

Jonathan Loriaux
That's cool, if it helps you find meaning in what we do every day. We're going to find lots of other things and, above all, lots of customers who are receptive to this kind of logic and thinking. So it's time, and we said we'd try to stick to our 45-minute podcast. I don't know if you've got anything you'd like to say in conclusion, or if everything we've said to each other is enough. I know it's a stupid question and nobody likes answering it.

Marion Duchatelet
Thanks for asking, Jon, that's cool. But no, I've said it all...

Jonathan Loriaux
Okay, that's cool. So, I'll see you in five minutes for the reverse, where you put me on the grill and I'm sure you'll put me on the grill a bit more than I did.

Marion Duchatelet
Of course.

Jonathan Loriaux
Thank you in advance. There you are. See you later. Thank you for your time.

Marion Duchatelet
Ciao.

Text transcript of podcast part 2

Marion Duchatelet
Hi Jon.

Jonathan Loriaux
Hi, there.

Marion Duchatelet
How are you?

Jonathan Loriaux
Long time no see! Yes, I'm fine.

Marion Duchatelet
We decided to interview ourselves after eight months of publishing our Sobriété Marketing podcast. And for me, as I listen to people and interview them, it helps me advance in my professional writing and, as a result, in my reflections within our beautiful agency Badsender. If you'll allow me, I'd like to ask you a few questions about all this.

Jonathan Loriaux
Go ahead, make yourself happy. I know you won't set any limits, so go ahead.

Marion Duchatelet
My first question. Do you consider yourself eco-anxious?

Jonathan Loriaux
It comes and goes, so I'd say yes, but I think I get this anxiety when everything else is going well. It takes over. And when I have other stresses in my life, it's not that I forget about it, but it's less stressful because maybe there are other things that, on a day-to-day basis, aren't so easy to deal with. So yes, I think so. But I don't think it overrides my desire to act.

Marion Duchatelet
That's the main thing. I have the impression that by talking about all this on an almost daily basis, and sometimes surrounding ourselves with an ecosystem of service providers with whom we talk about it a lot (I'm thinking in particular of SAMI, the people who do our carbon footprint and with whom we have regular videoconferences), we could perhaps shut ourselves away in an eco-bubble and distance ourselves from what's really preoccupying companies. Do you have the same impression?

Jonathan Loriaux
I think so. And it's funny because I was thinking the other day when I was looking at my Linkedin news feed, which is changing over the months. Obviously, I'm interacting more with some people and less with others. And inevitably, the beautiful algorithms of these platforms mean that I'm gradually being exposed to more information. Clearly, I feel that my convictions are gradually reinforced because I have them and because, as a result, my ear is more attentive to those who have them. And it's clear that this is a real subject. "Don't we discuss these subjects in isolation? "Don't we talk to each other about these issues on a daily basis? "Can we really reach people who are slightly on the bangs of these reflections, or who have started them, but who perhaps haven't yet gone very, very far? "And above all, are we able to bring ideas and reflections on the ecological impact of marketing and digital technology to circles who either don't feel concerned, aren't informed, or are even skeptical about all this logic?" Even if, in the end, the skeptics, we see them because they troll the discussions of people who are engaged. Trolls are always everywhere, and it's unfortunately not the skeptics with whom it's most interesting to discuss and exchange ideas. So yes, I think I come across more people who think like me. And you have to be careful. You have to remain audible. Even when you're an activist.

Marion Duchatelet
Do you think things are really moving, even in our industry?

Jonathan Loriaux
I find that we regularly receive testimonials from people thanking us for what we do and for the voice we carry. I think it's interesting. And even though I know we haven't always agreed on the subject, I do see a beneficial effect on companies' CSR strategies, not necessarily because it creates a real impetus towards an ecological transition, but because at least, but because, at the very least, it enables certain employees and company staff to say "OK, my company, even if its CSR strategy is perhaps because it has to be, legitimizes me in the fact that I can apply principles that I already had in mind before, but which I perhaps didn't dare say out loud. " Maybe we'll talk about it later, but when it comes to eco-design, for example, we're a little more in demand. I'm a little further down the sales chain at Badsender. I'm the one who receives the raw requests from our prospects, the contact requests, etc... And there are more people than before who spontaneously come up and say "By the way, eco sub-design issues could be of interest to us." We've published a methodology for assessing the carbon footprint of emailing strategies. Even before it was officially released, I had a few people say to me, "By the way, I'd be interested to know what the ecological impact of our strategy is." So yes, I have the impression that there is a movement. It's still timid, but it's less timid than before, because in any case, publicly, the big companies are obliged to say they're doing something.

Marion Duchatelet
You're the CEO of Badsender. What's more, I bother you every time with this title, which I find rather pompous for what you do. Just kidding 😉

Jonathan Loriaux
In real life, that's what I put in my email signature and on Linkedin, but I'm never just president in the small print.

Marion Duchatelet
That's true. But what keeps you from getting caught up in the drive for maximum revenue and profits? What makes you not want to take the time to develop Badsender commercially? Why don't you want to resell to make as much money as possible? Why don't you get involved in the classic?

Jonathan Loriaux
For those of you who listened to the previous episode in which I interviewed you, my background is somewhat the opposite of yours, in that I was an activist before working in marketing. On political issues, in associations, etc... Clearly, I consider that I arrived at the head of a company with 12 employees by chance. I think a lot of entrepreneurs say that. I say it too, and I have the impression that it's true. At the end of the day, when Badsender was a little more traditional in its thinking about how to do business, how to earn a living, how to pay salaries, personally, I was less satisfied with what we were doing than I am today, when we're involved in projects like email expiry dates, content on issues linked to ecology, ethics, etc... I don't have the impression that if we wanted to grow and be bought out for hundreds of thousands of euros, or even millions in a short space of time, we'd have the time to work on these values.

Clearly, I'm more in the mindset that we need to be profitable to have some peace of mind in the fact that we'll be able to pay salaries at the end of each month. That's why, on average, we need to be above zero at the end of the year, that's for sure. And if, on top of that, we've built up a little safety cushion over the years, because there are bound to be years that are a little less good than others, then that's the kind of philosophy I'm getting into. I have no idea whether we'll still be here until the eve of our retirement, or whether we'll have done something else entirely in our careers. But I say to myself, the more things go on and if we manage to transform the business, I wouldn't mind it if we managed to renew and revolutionize ourselves on a regular basis to get to that point. And I think that requires a small team and a determination not to chase crazy figures that might satisfy investors or potential buyers one day.

Marion Duchatelet
Precisely, I remember that at the end of 2018, we had a financial slump. We were a little freaked out. You took back the reins of the business, which you'd let go of a bit at the time. And we said to ourselves, "We need to do one sales email a month to try to sell." At the time, we had a lead scoring system for our customers. "We're going to take the hottest ones, and then we're going to have more aggressive sales marketing than we had at the time. That was just three years ago. And in fact, three years later, we're feeling better financially, but we've only done one sales email, if I remember correctly. We've never done another.

Jonathan Loriaux
We planned them, but never had the time to do them. And in the end, we didn't need them.

Marion Duchatelet
And since then, we haven't collected any data. Even for our live shows, we decided that everything would be accessible without registration. Our white papers are no longer white papers, they're guides accessible without any "You have to sign up, fill in a form, etc." in return. How do you go from "This is crap, we've got to make more money" to "Actually, we're going to have aggressive marketing and we've never implemented it, but it's getting better all the same"?

Jonathan Loriaux
The first thing is that to turn things around, for a year we paid the three shareholders at the time far less than we were paying ourselves before. What's more, the year that followed... (It was in 2019 that it was really complicated, it wasn't 2018.) was the COVID year. Our sales were way down, but on the other hand, we regained profitability, which ensured that the following year we were back on track. That's for the purely economic part. After that, there were in fact two paths. One was to be a bit aggressive, where we'd just do what everyone else was doing: we'd just keep plugging away, we'd advertise, we'd pay a company to generate leads for us. But today, I'm attacked on a daily basis by lots of companies on Linkedin, or by email, trying to tell me that they're going to generate lots of leads for me every week in order to sell. So, in the end, we chose the other path. Above all, we persevered with our fundamentals, i.e. creating content, proving our expertise, showing that we were independent and that we had a certain freedom of tone. And this has enabled people who have been following us for years to continue to do so. So, in the end, it was back on the editorial side, on authenticity, that we managed to get back on track.

Marion Duchatelet
Don't you feel that the sales phase you've taken over, with your personality (you who sometimes give free advice before selling), your way of selling, your authenticity, is what has given people confidence?

Jonathan Loriaux
Perhaps, as recently as yesterday, I told a prospect at the first meeting that frankly, I think he'd be better served by a freelancer than by an agency where the people involved would be different depending on the discipline, and that I felt he rather needed to have a single contact who was capable of doing a bit of everything. Mind you, at Badsender, our people are capable of doing a bit of everything, but we're still ultra-specialized, already on the subject of emailing and still within, on the different disciplines that make up this subject. I don't know if it's me, because that would be a bit pompous. After all, it's a bit paradoxical because it's not what I prefer to do in life, making sales presentations and quotes. But then, I do have the advantage of having done a bit of everything in this line of work and of being able to discuss everything, whereas a hardcore salesman, even if he has a good grounding in marketing, isn't necessarily going to be able to say "You don't need us" or "You should change a comma in your DNS record and everything will work better. You don't necessarily need us to give you a day's service for so little." Maybe that helps. It's true that sometimes I've had exchanges with people who've come back a year later and said "We really enjoyed the exchange and now we're ready to do things that are a little more ambitious." But I still think content is important. Well-qualified contacts are the ones who go so far as to fill in a little form to ask for a service. That's the sinews of war. It's because they've been convinced by what they've found on our blog, service pages, etc...

Marion Duchatelet
Yes, that's what we call "inbound marketing".

Jonathan Loriaux
Exactly.

Marion Duchatelet
What have you changed in your sales pitch and in the services offered by Badsender, as a result of interviewing people and listening to the podcasts we publish? How would you like to see things evolve?

Jonathan Loriaux
To be honest, I'm still very shy in the sales phase, because I don't know who's in front of me... But it depends. The first reflex when you have a sales contact, someone who comes for a service that's either a bit vague or well identified, is to go and see who the person is and who the company is behind it. Clearly, when WWF comes to ask us questions, we know that they're going to be very open to ecological and social issues, etc. For other structures, it's neutral, we don't really know. It depends a little on the state of mind. And for others, and this is starting to happen to us, we say to ourselves "No, that's not going to do it." The two or three times I've done it this year, at the beginning of 2023, when I've said "Sorry, but it's not going to be possible, we're not going to work together because on these issues, it seems complicated to align our values", I've sent my little message and I've had no response at all. I don't know if they went up to the table or if the guy said "I understand, my job's a pain in the ass too. I don't know. Maybe one day they'll get back to me when they've changed or through other channels. So I kind of forgot the thread of your question.

Marion Duchatelet
It was "Since we've taken on this side, can we change things?"

Jonathan Loriaux
Since we've been doing our carbon footprint (a little over a year ago), we've added a layer on ecological issues in our presentations, where we clearly state in our slides that for less than half a day, we won't travel more than two hours to visit a customer or run a workshop. Today, depending on the customer, I'll stop on the slide. If I know in advance that they're involved in these issues and that they're going to like it. However, I still find it a little difficult to stop there when I don't know, when I haven't yet had a clue as to the level of openness of the person in front of me.

Marion Duchatelet
Does that mean you adapt to the position?

Jonathan Loriaux
It has to be. In any case, adapting to your audience is the key to success. Here, I'm really talking about the first sales approach: the contact has made a request, we've set up an appointment and we're talking for the very first time. The first thing is to get them talking. After that, I present who we are, our products, services and methods. And clearly, I'm adapting, because I think I'm a bit afraid of being laughed at. I've been on a sales call where someone turns to the person next to them and says something like, "Well, they're kind of nuts, aren't they? That's the kind of feeling that's not particularly pleasant. So it's true that I'm still walking on eggshells. But then, it's also in the way it's presented. Today, in my sales speech, I first give a little history of Badsender, then explain that we come from the blog, that we're an agency and then an email builder. The value part comes a little later. I think I'm the one who has to gradually turn that around by explaining the turn we've taken and the direction we want to take tomorrow. But almost from the outset. I have to force myself to make two or three mistakes in the way I say it before it becomes a bit more natural.

Marion Duchatelet
And assume the giggles.

Jonathan Loriaux
Potentially, yes. Even if we'd really like them not to happen anymore, but for it to be natural to say "In our services, we've integrated dimensions linked to ecology, social issues, ethical questions."

Marion Duchatelet
I'm asking you this question because you know exactly what I'm getting at. But as you said, we're doing our carbon footprint. I have the impression that we've been doing quite a lot for a year or two now, from a policy point of view, purchasing policies, server location, etc... I don't think we're doing too badly. The concern, in my opinion, with a carbon footprint like an emailing carbon footprint, is who do you serve opposite? We're talking about climate shadow. You know, the notion of climate shadow allows us to measure the consequences of our activity, and therefore the consequences of our services. So, basically, who do we serve as a customer? This means that if we want to reduce our carbon footprint, we'll have to calculate this climatic shadow, which isn't obvious, but which can be calculated. But ultimately, to reduce our carbon footprint, we'd have to select our customers. As you said, we have to start telling customers that it's going to be complicated working with you.

Jonathan Loriaux
It's more than "it's going to be complicated", it's "it's not going to be possible". Some cases are very obvious to us today, while others are a little less so.

Marion Duchatelet
How can we, as CEOs and/or sales people, already realize the impact of the climate shadow - in other words, of the customer in front of us? And what can we do to minimize it, while maintaining our cash flow and our community?

Jonathan Loriaux
You may have to remind me of your question in 30 seconds, because obviously I'm going to go off on a tangent before I start. There's a subject that's close to my heart, and that's that in most organizations, the number 1 goal is often to keep the organization afloat, to survive. This is something that sometimes leads a company, or even an association, into problematic territory. It's that they're sometimes capable of denying themselves just to guarantee their survival. That's a really important point to bear in mind, and it's why we're doing this podcast. Does a marketing agency have a place in tomorrow's society, in a more sober society, in the objectives of ecological transition? The first thing we did for ourselves was to educate ourselves, to get an idea of the scale of our direct impact. When I say "direct", we're not going to go into the carbon footprint methodologies, but having the footprint of Badsender's operations, I thought it was really important, even if it can be frustrating, to work on our legitimacy. Legitimacy means "Are we, for ourselves, doing the job properly on climate issues?" before arriving at "How do we ensure that the services we provide to our customers are beneficial for the ecological transition and for a whole host of other issues?" By the way, we have a strategic committee at Badsender, of which you are a member. We asked ourselves this question a little over six months ago, "How do we sort out our customers?" saying to ourselves, "Yes, we have customers who have a negative impact on the ecological footprint, we have customers who are relatively neutral, and above all we'd like to have customers who have a positive impact. How do we go about defining criteria that will enable us to say: Okay, we want to keep this one. That one, we don't want to keep having". And we realized that, in fact, we weren't even necessarily clear about Badsender's mission and raison d'être. For me, this is a key step. Having a raison d'être and having thought about what our mission is, will enable us to derive criteria that will be a little more concrete to know which customers we want to support and which customers we don't want to support in the future. Having worked on our raison d'être, which will be enshrined in our articles of association in June, we're gradually beginning to get a clearer idea, and this has led us to ask ourselves the question: "Is it our customers' carbon footprint that counts, or is it the trajectory they've taken? "Will the services we sell them help them and their own customers to reduce their carbon footprint or carbon equivalent?" Or "Is the opposite not the case?" The example we've always taken in our reflections is the energy sector, hydrocarbons, etc...". Are we ready to work for companies that sell gas and energy?" And we do. And the answer, and this is the kind of answer you don't like, is "It depends." Does it really depend on what meaning they put into it? Do they really want to help their own customers reduce and change their energy consumption patterns? Or do they just not care? They want to keep making money as long as they can with this type of product.

Marion Duchatelet
It reminds me of the last podcast we published with Thomas Bourgenot. He was saying that, yes, there have been standards for advertising, i.e. for precisely everything that involves fossil fuels, not to advertise oil rigs, etc... But to advertise renewable energy. In reality, this represents 2% of their business, and that's not why they're cutting back on more harmful activities. Aren't we also in danger of falling into greenwashing?

Jonathan Loriaux
Yes, that's what we see in the automotive sector, for example. Personally, I don't watch much TV advertising, but from what I can see, most car ads are for electric cars, even if the brands that advertise their electric cars are lobbying the European Union hard to postpone the end-of-sale date for combustion-powered cars. Unfortunately, sometimes legislation that aims to combat greenwashing, or at any rate to encourage a reduction in consumption that is problematic from an environmental point of view, has the opposite effect, because it legitimizes the communication of companies that are not very virtuous, communicating exclusively on the small portion that could be virtuous.

Marion Duchatelet
I'm going to ask you one last question. I need you to answer me honestly. Are you ready or not?

Jonathan Loriaux
Go ahead.

Marion Duchatelet
For real. For real. Do you think our profession is useful? Or like all consulting jobs, jobs that, according to some people like Timothée Parrique, (I don't know if you've read his book) but in his book, he says anyway, there won't be any more advertising. Is our profession useful for tomorrow? In all honesty.

Jonathan Loriaux
I think it's extremely useful in the medium term. In the long term, I'm not sure. That's why I was telling you earlier that we'll have to reinvent ourselves several more times if we want to keep working together all 12 of us and keep this company moving forward. I think that today, we need to communicate better to change consumer habits. If we can really, radically change them, we could potentially become useless. I say potentially, but if I project myself back to 2050 in an ideal world, someone who launches a patisserie (because I hope there will still be patisseries in 2050) and who launches his business anywhere, expects people to come into his store... For that, just creating a sign for him, for me, is communication. But if he expects people to spontaneously come into his shop by walking past and seeing the good cakes in the window, he's not likely to last long. I think there will continue to be communication professions. But will they be communication professions in which a single brand tries to attract 500,000 customers a month? Perhaps that's where we'll see some radical changes. For example, not everyone can write easily. I know it's something close to your heart and mine too, because I love it, but writing even a brochure to explain your services isn't easy for everyone. For example, I hope people are still getting married in 2050, and if I take over the patisserie, they'll need a pièce montée. We'll have to write about the different options for the pièce montée. On that alone, there may be people who'll call themselves "writers" rather than "marketers", but we'll need people with a way with words who can inspire and make pleasant things that aren't necessarily pleasant to read. A catalog of products and services isn't necessarily fun, but it can be made a little more enjoyable if it's well written, well laid out, etc. I think there will continue to be communication professions. Will there still be traffic managers? I don't know. Personally, I'm not necessarily in favor... I'm sorry for the traffic managers who listen to us, but there may be professions that will have to reinvent themselves.

Marion Duchatelet
Okay. Thank you, Jon.

Jonathan Loriaux
With pleasure.

Marion Duchatelet
See you soon.

Jonathan Loriaux
See you soon. Ciao

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