CMO Confessions Ep. 21: Cradlepoint’s Todd Krautkremer

Hello and welcome again to another episode of CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast exploring the real stories of leadership behind sales and marketing in B2B companies today. This week, we have Todd Krautkremer, CMO at Cradlepoint.

Cradlepoint is an industry leader in cloud-delivered 4G LTE network solutions for businesses, government organizations and more. It’s currently working to extend its lead into the 5G space as well. But we’re not here to talk about Cradlepoint specifically, we’re here to talk about how Todd got to where he is today and learn what he has to say about marketing in general.

And he has a lot to say thanks to his wealth of experience in software engineering, sales and, of course, marketing. Todd started his career as a computer software engineer building networks for AT&T. There, he watched his sales comrades succeed where he couldn’t. So, after leaving AT&T, he found himself a position in sales.

But after he joined sales, Todd realized there was a massive gap in customer-centric marketing. So, he moved into marketing. Since then, Todd has approached marketing with an engineer’s mind and an obsession with approaching marketing from the customer’s perspective.

In this episode, you’ll learn a lot about the similarities and differences between engineering and marketing, why data is now the de facto engine behind marketing today and the marketing tech stack has so drastically changed from even five years ago.

If you’re interested in discovering what Todd has to say, you can find his Twitter profile here. If you’re interested in exploring his background, you can check out his LinkedIn profile here.

If you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Table of Contents:

Cradlepoint’s Todd Krautkremer’s journey to CMO
Todd’s early marketing homing beacon
How an engineer approaches marketing
The must-have marketing skill sets and using data to the best of your ability
Handling tech stacks now vs. five or six years ago
What was once old in marketing is now new again
On getting marketing and sales to play nice


Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions, a Weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24, and joining me this week from the Bay Area is Todd Krautkremer, CMO of Cradlepoint. Todd, how you doing?

Todd Krautkremer:

Hey, doing great Joe. Thanks for inviting me to the show.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I love having you on. I really appreciate the time. Okay, so let’s dive right in. I get asked a lot, from younger marketers to tell them the path to becoming a CMO, and I think they, most people think there is a very deliberate, set of roles that one needs to get into this chair. You have a you have a different path, or perhaps a less common journey. And I’d love, I’d love to hear more about it.

Cradlepoint’s Todd Krautkremer’s Journey to CMO

Todd Krautkremer:

Yeah, sure. I think everybody carves their own path, but, what is consistent is really being able to have a sense of what the life of a customer is all about. So my path is a very circuitous path. I was trained as a computer software engineer, and my first job was writing software for some of the world’s largest networks. The company I was working for was at the heart of many of the world’s largest networks at the time. And that’s how I stumbled into networking. I got completely driven by understanding how this code that I’m writing actually works in the real world. I had to understand how you build networks and I took a job with AT&T at the time that was building their networks at divestiture, it gives you some idea what my age is for those that are counting. And we needed to build one of the world’s largest networks, literally overnight, by that I mean within a year and a half.

And it was a life-transforming experience because I became the IT guy or the guy in this case, the network engineer, and all the vendors were trying to sell to me and they were trying to get me to buy their technology and their solution. And it was a, it was a life-altering experience. And then from there I, I also noticed that, while I was doing all the work, the cars lined up outside of my window were a Porsche with a personalized plate and a BMW with a personalized plate and the Mercedes with a personalized plate. And I realized that in the world of sales you kind of control your own destiny.

So I decided to get into sales. I went to AT&T and I said, hey, “I want to get into sales.” And they said, “No problem Todd here is literally a seven-year road map of how you can get into sales from where you are today.” I said, “I was kind of thinking now, not seven years from now.” I took a job with Neiman’s that was building at that time, public packet switching networks for the carriers, went through product management, got into sales in about two years and then did my first startup. And I got so frustrated that the, the utter lack of marketing and was complaining all the time because I really had a feel for what customers were going through and how to talk about our value proposition, in a way that matters to customers. Finally, the CEO of the early stage company said, well, if you think you can do a better job, the role is yours. I said, I think I can. And I got into marketing and found my true calling. And it really is the ability to live the customer’s life, to relate to what’s important and to translate the value of what you’re doing into terms that the customer can resonate with and value.

Todd’s early Marketing Homing Beacon

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I love that. Said a little differently, empathy is so important for great marketers and really being able to see things from other people’s perspectives and walk a mile in their shoes, so to speak. Do you think, starting on the, on the programming and coding side and going over to sales and then kind of completing this journey over to marketing, do you think the stops in multiple different disciplines or departments helped you have a more well-rounded view of the customer’s challenges? Or was that just dumb luck and that happened to be your path?

Todd Krautkremer:

Well, gee, how do I answer this both truthfully? It was a little bit luck in that the opportunities had presented themselves. But on the other hand, I had to seize the opportunity and I was clearly moving in a path towards sales and marketing. Otherwise, I would be a CTO somewhere, right? Cause that path is also very fruitful. So I think the way I was wired, what was important to me, what interests me, what I was passionate about, even as I was a developer, remember cause I was writing this code and I wasn’t happy just developing the code, I had to really understand how customers used it. So there was always that attraction in my life that homing beacon, if you will, that I was locked onto.

But let me tell you this, what’s really funny today, and you and I see this all the time, as CMOs, right? For some reason, an engineer walks in the room and says, “I’ve examined the problem and I’ve taken this approach and I’m developing this kind of solution.”

He goes, “Wow, that guy is amazing. He’s gone through all this education and we see it at work right there. Then you go to the next conference room and you say, “Hey, I’ve got this marketing challenge”, and everybody in the room, sales, engineering, customer service, the receptionist all say, “Hey, here’s what I think you should do.”

How a Software Engineer Approaches Marketing

Todd Krautkremer:

So, I don’t know why that’s the case, but to bring it full circle marketing is very, very technical. Let me just draw a comparison here. Let me compare the life of engineering with the life of marketing today to make good on this point. So right? The product and the engineering team, they care about product market fit. We care about product customer fit. They have a DevStack, right, with all this advanced technology that helps them write code and and manage code and deliver products…

we have a martech stack, which is extremely complicated and sophisticated and we can’t do what we’re set up to do without it. They have a DevOps function; we have a marketing ops function. They do continuous integration; we do continuous campaigns. They have sustaining engineering; we have sustaining influence that’s essential to keeping our name in front of the right people, that at some point in their own journey, will decide they’re going to buy something and you’re there, you’re top of mind and you’re relevant. They do QA testing; we do A//B testing. They do user experience, that’s a real big thing to stay in the engineering side; we do persona and customer journey maps. Kind of the same thing. And now the big thing in the engineering side is everybody’s got to hire data scientists. Well, you can’t be an effective marketer today without a quant. So my story here, Joe.

Joe Hyland:

It’s true. It is true. I mean there’s just slightly different personas. Right? But you just touched on data, which I think is, I think it’s fascinating. And you’re right, I know a few marketing departments that aren’t either strongly leveraging data or having plans to do so in the immediate future, and really more the former than the latter with, with every group I’m talking to. It’s a pretty wildly different skill set that when you think about most traditional marketers in the paths they take. You came from the programming side. I think you naturally draw these lines of comparison between engineering and marketing. And I think they’re pretty damn close. Do you guys at either Cradlepoint, or you can go back to previous roles; one, are you utilizing data to the best of your ability? Do you feel good about it? And I guess the second part would be do you feel like you have the, the skill sets within marketing to best do so? Or are you hiring non-marketers to do it?

The Must-Have Marketing Skills Sets And using Data to The Best of Your Ability

Todd Krautkremer:

That’s a lot of questions within that question. But in the world of SaaS, which is the company I was previously at was really a SaaS-based approach to networking. Getting real-time telemetry data from the product was essential and it allowed me to understand the customer journey, not on the outside of the product, which, which is my job, and to the other point about data I’ll cover in a minute, you can’t do that data. Once that journey flows into the product you need that telemetry data to really understand how that customer is consuming your value and are they having success and are they solving business problems and will they churn or not at the end of that journey?

So that I think is, of course, the way you think in SaaS, but increasingly, it’s the way you have to think about all solutions. And in order to map that internal product journey where I get product telemetry data that’s easy to external, I need external telemetry data on the customers and where they’re visiting and what they’re reading and what they’re consuming and where they are in their journey. And am I serving up to them content and insights that meet them where they are in their journey or am I constantly shooting ahead of them and behind them? Which means I’m not being effective and really moving them towards us and our solutions.

So yes, data is essential. It’s what makes marketing different today than it was five years ago. And in order to really get those insights, because nobody delivers to you an exact picture, you have multiple sources. You have to have quants, you have to have people who enjoy finding insights in seemingly unrelated data that now become actionable insights. And the only way you can do that is really to have, you know, our version of data science with people with real business analytics and quantitative analytics backgrounds.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I guess, one, I agree, two, it’s interesting seeing this skill set in marketing departments. You’re right, a lot has changed in the last five years. We’ll talk about technology, you referenced it before, but there really weren’t quants, at least in the marketing departments I was working in, in marketing. They may have sat in different parts of the business, right? But, so many dollars are going into growth marketers and growth marketing. And if you’re not really, if you’re not analyzing the data and making smarter decisions off of all these signals you’re getting back you’re kind of missing the point, right? So, but yeah, it is interesting to see the difference in skill sets required because it’s pretty, pretty stark.

Todd Krautkremer:

Yeah. And kind of the, I would say, the pinnacle of executing based on data-driven decisions and doing this in real-time, which is where we all aspire to get to, right? This notion of real-time [inaudible] in marketing. I had the, the opportunity to meet with a team at IBM and literally they took me into their real-time marketing team and they had a whole bunch of quants crunching data, streaming real-time from their website, and while they were crunching data you could see there were people on the website, they were, they were doing firmographics on that individual in realtime and they were copying offers in front of that individual based on real-time data feeds. All of this in real-time. It looked like a top trading room. The level of activity was crazy. And of course I don’t have the budget and the staff to do that, but it doesn’t necessarily quell my desire to get to that kind of outcome in the not too distant future.

Handling Tech Stacks Now vs. Five or Six Years Ago

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Well, I mean, that sounds like a pretty sophisticated shop they had. But, what’s cool about marketing today is you don’t necessarily, everything is a spectrum, right? And if that’s on one end of the extreme side of the spectrum I think we’re all using data in much smarter ways and technology is making life simpler. It’s also making life a lot more complicated. I’d love to get your perspective on this. So I’m seeing tech stacks grow and grow for marketers, with many great promises of kind of solving all of the marketer’s challenges. How are, how are you handling your tech stack and without actually walking through it from a macro perspective, what’s it look like now versus, you know, five or six years ago?

Todd Krautkremer:

Yeah. You know, it’s the modern version of a gym membership. Just because you have a gym membership doesn’t mean you lose weight.

Joe Hyland:

It’s true. That’s a great idea. That is great, I’ve never heard that analogy. That’s a great one. Combining the two. Yeah, you’re right.

Todd Krautkremer:

So, you know, these amazing technologies, right? There’s whole companies that are just trying to advance the marketing capability set. But just because you buy one of those solutions, plugging in your stack doesn’t mean you’re going to get benefits. So what we’ve done here is we tie kind of, it really gets to a business objective. Let’s take ABM that’s kind of top of mind. I mean that’s a whole different way in which we drive demand through influence and have more of an account based approach, right? So it starts with that business objective.

Then you have to figure out what are the tools I need in the stack in order to execute in a measurable way, our goals of the business around account-based marketing. But then you have to get people that have a dedicated responsibility to leverage those tools to execute against that business imperative and deliver the results. And then you gotta be able to measure the results and have the programmatic elements in place that ensures that it provides basically an operating system for the technology and the people and the business objectives to follow and execute in. And if you don’t have all of those pieces, then you’re likely to have a gym membership that you may visit once a quarter and spend about five minutes on the bike and call it good and think that you’re getting the benefit. That’s just been our experience.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. So I agree with you. I’ll add one element in there is if one is not careful, you get an increasingly large toolset of technologies and if you’re not careful, they operate in silos, which point cleaning data from them is never going to happen. I love that you started with the business imperative and objective. I see too many marketers today either starting with tactics or starting with technology and ABM is a good example. ABM is not a strategy. ABM might be a means through which you can accomplish what you’re trying to achieve. But that is, you know, because of our space that I’m in, I go to a lot of marketing conferences and if I hear that one more time that the new strategy is ABM, I don’t know what I’ll do, it’s not a strategy. And also this,

What Was Once Old In Marketing Is Now New Again

Joe Hyland:

And so you referenced your age or your tenure earlier and ABM is a perfect topic for this. So many things in marketing that were once old are now new again. ABM is all the buzz right now, but it’s not as if personalized marketing and delivering a highly customized message is a new concept for marketers yet it’s talked about like this is some brand new thing that never existed before.

Todd Krautkremer:

No, that’s exactly right. In fact, you know, we’ve always used sales as kind of being that last mile transformation layer that takes our messaging, positioning, our personas and everything else and really brings that together at the point of engagement with the customer. But as we all know, customer behaviors, have radically changed. And where in the past, the salespeople was one of the primary ways they got insights and information about new technologies, what other people are doing. That’s not the case anymore.

So now they’re really on their own self-guided journey and we’re having to figure out new tactics of how do we get in front in more of a persona based in more of a spear phishing type of approach to get the right information to the right person at the right time so we can influence their direction and do that before, long before the salespeople even engage. So you’re right, it’s many of the same things that marketing’s always been about. But because the customers are forcing us to switch up when we apply these tactics in the sales cycle, it’s forcing us to look at technologies like account-based marketing to execute what was done perhaps later in the sales cycle through more face to face engagement.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I mean, it’s a cool time to be a marketer. I always strongly believed that marketing is never about you, it’s always about them, whoever them is, whoever your audience is. And you just said it well: purchasers or consumers are taking themselves on self-guided journeys that is, that started six or seven years ago and I don’t, I don’t actually think it will ever end. But marketers have more and more control now and I’m seeing marketing departments, not just leaders, but departments, becoming much more strategic to the business versus just being the chotchkies and making a pretty department.

Todd Krautkremer:

That’s exactly right. In a good, a good metric of that shift just in my own life when you think about board meetings, right? Our board is spending more time talking about the role of marketing in achieving our business objectives than ever before. So they are recognizing that it’s not just a tool for getting a company brand out there and getting heard and having people resonate. It’s a tool that can really facilitate and drive leverage and scalability in sales and the partners that do the selling on our behalf.

On Getting Marketing and Sales to Play Nice

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, similar to my experience. When we have our quarterly board meeting I present our sales pipeline, so I’m incredibly close with our sales leader, my counterpart, on the sales side. But the board feels that marketing is the key upstream indicator for pipeline. So I stand up there alone and present it. It just, I think that was rarer five or 10 years ago.

Todd Krautkremer:

Absolutely. In fact, that used to be that the sales teams and marketing teams and even boards, they kind of encouraged this tension between sales and marketing and they had to be an odds because that way truth lies somewhere between. That is a very passe view of marketing.

Todd Krautkremer:

Today, you should not be able to see the light between a sales and marketing department. There should be no gaps. They really should be an extension of each other — if you’re doing it right and if you’re really leveraging the full capabilities of marketing together with the things that sales can uniquely do. And, that’s a very different place than we were even three years ago. Certainly five years.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, completely. When I started my career almost 20 years ago, my job was to literally write letters, this is sales and marketing alignment back then, I would write letters for our sales reps, I would print them, I would sign them in the sales rep’s name and then mail them off and hope that, you know, whoever I sent them to write back. So things have changed a little bit.

Todd Krautkremer:

They’re putting more power in the hands of us to do what we’re ultimately paid to do. And that’s really transformed the shape of the business growth. Right? That’s what we’re here to do is to create an inflection through one to many activities and provide more sales leverage.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. And your experience coming through sales after your programming days, I think is an interesting breeding ground. But I think many, many, many people still struggle with the relationship with sales. We talked about empathy earlier. If you’re empathetic and you see things from other people’s perspective, life’s actually pretty simple. And you’re right, if you can, if sales and marketing have ultimately the same goals, there should be no light between the two groups. And I actually think the tension, if any existed before really should, should go away. Our marketing department’s goal for the year is our sales team’s goal. I think that’s a pretty simple way to structure it. You just, you just need to think differently about how you set up objectives.

Todd Krautkremer:        

Yeah. I mean it used to be, of course, we talk in the terms of MQLs and SQLs, and that’s just like plumbing, right? If a marketing department is talking about MQLs, there’s still a fence between sales and marketing. Our terminology is pipeline coverage and that is we’re going to guarantee we’re going to deliver this amount of pipeline to meet the number. So we’re in the trenches, we’re committing to delivering that pipeline so sales can do their job. And then helping to find where those other pipeline factors will come in because we have influence over those too. Partners are a great example. And through partner marketing and channel marketing, we can now drive pipeline contribution through our partners.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. That’s wonderful. And you’re right, an MQL doesn’t go away, you know, marketing needs to, needs some way to measure these key upstream indicators. But yeah, the, I hope…

Todd Krautkremer:

It’s the outcome, it’s just a milestone in the process to achieve an outcome.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. And so I joined our company four years ago and I said to our CEO, and we’d had some troubles with sales and marketing alignment. I said “Let’s just set the goals the same and it’s all about for us.” So our use case was demand gen, and I said, “Set the goal at pipeline. Let me worry about MQLs. Cause you don’t want me sitting in the room saying, ‘Oh, I know we’re behind our sales targets, but marketing set our MQL goals.'” Like that’s when BS starts and you never get rid of it.

Todd Krautkremer:

Exactly. Spot on.

Joe Hyland:        

All right, well Todd, listen, I told you this would go by fast or we’re at the bottom of the, of the hour. I love your passion. I love the data-driven approach. I don’t think I could ever mimic your background, but it’s fascinating hearing someone who went through it. So thank you so much for the time. I really, really appreciate it.

Todd Krautkremer:

Thanks, Joe. Let’s do this again sometime. I had a blast.

Joe Hyland:

All right. Over a beer next time.

Todd Krautkremer:

You got it. Cheers.

6 Elements of Modern Content Marketing

B2B content marketing is having a rough go of it lately. Optimism is low even though content marketers are creating, sharing and promoting more content than ever before. The content created gets lost in the digital noise, the data collected isn’t thorough and the audiences reached aren’t receptive.

We know why and how B2B content marketers are failing. But how are they succeeding?  According to a joint study between ON24 and Heinz Marketing,  the marketers that get the most out of their content know how to drive engagement. What’s more, the successful marketers in the study all share certain traits.

More Content Marketing Tips

To provide you with a better idea of what’s working, we’ve consolidated the traits found in successful content programs into six attributes. These high-level qualities cannot be easily shoehorned into a content program, but marketers should use these attributes as guideposts as they move towards a content program based on engagement, rather than clicks.

Attribute One: Personalization

Successful content marketing programs customizer messaging for individual audiences. To do so, content creators must have a keen understanding of audience pain points, industry terminology and a robust library of personas to draw on — even at the expense of campaign efficiency.

Attribute Two: Interaction

Audiences need to interact with content, not stare at it. This means taking advantage of two-way conversations through digital media and in-person events. Driving a two-way conversation can help an audience understand what they need from a solution and help marketers better target and engage with audiences.

Attribute Three: Curiosity

Great content programs evoke curiosity in audiences. News updates, product releases, in-depth installation guides, expert commentary and more can all pique the interest of relevant attendees. Again, having a well-defined understanding of a target audience is necessary to know what makes them curious and what makes them click away.

Attribute Four: Personas

This entry should be no surprise given how much of content marketing depends on well-honed personas. With quality personas, marketers can bring out the personality in content and craft work that’ll actually get read, rather than glanced at.

Attribute Five: Precision

Up to 90 percent of content marketers create for sales goes unused. The solution isn’t, however, to create less. Instead, marketers need to make their content more precise. Assets should address the unique pain points their prospective customers face in the buying journey — even if it’s a single slide or quote.

Attribute Six: Brevity

Brevity is the soul of both wit and good marketing. Knowing when to say less — or provide less — can help marketers engage more. So, take a step away from the 20-page white paper and send a summary to your audience instead.

How to Turn Your Webinar Into a Podcast

This post is the latest in our series on scrappy marketing – an approach can help you achieve better results in less time.

Recently ON24 has been turning webinars into podcasts and other content for its CMO Confessions series.

Many ON24 customers have been asking what are the steps behind this process? Well we are happy to share these with you!

With podcast listening on the rise, repurposing your webinars is another scrappy marketing technique that can help you get more out of your marketing.

The steps below assume you already have a topic in mind – if not, read our checklist on running a content marketing brainstorm to surface some ideas.

Secure Guests

Guests are a critical element to many webinars and podcasts. Not only will they help create an engaging session, but they will also help promote your content more widely. To get guests onboard, follow these steps.

  • Set some provisional dates. Your potential guests will have busy schedules, and you have a marketing calendar to fill. Before you reach out to them, have provisional dates in mind to make sure you can align calendars.
  • Create a shortlist. With a topic and dates in mind, now you are in a position to figure out who might be a good fit. Get names and emails together so you can start reaching out.
  • Conduct outreach. Get either one of your senior team members, the webinar host, or a co-worker who knows them to get in touch and see if they are interested. If you don’t get a reply first time round, send a reminder to get back to the top of your inbox.
  • Get acceptance and their bio info. Once they’ve accepted, confirm details such as their exact title, bio and headshot. You can offer to take these from LinkedIn to save them time.

Agree on Talking Points

So your guests are comfortable on the day, run through these steps to get agreement on what you’ll discuss on the day.

  • Schedule a pre-call. Get your guests on a call first to run through the session and what you’ll be discussing.
  • Use a shared document for ideas. A good way to collaborate before the webinar is to use a shared document (such as Google Docs) that you can edit and work on while you’re having the call.
  • Cover what the guests will be saying. Use your shared document to confirm questions and topics so your guests can prepare and won’t be asked questions they aren’t comfortable with.

Set Up Your Webinar Page

Now you have a date, topic, speakers and their bios, put together your webinar registration page as normal and carry out your promotion. If you need more guidance, read our post on driving webinar registrations at speed.

Do a Test Call

Before every webinar, it’s always good to do a test call on your webinar platform to ensure everything works and the audio quality is clear for all of your guests.

If audio could be improved during this test call, make suggestions on how your guests can make it better – for example, by using a separate microphone, or by finding a quieter meeting room.

Run and Record Your Webinar

With the date, time, topic and guests all lined up, all you need to do now is run and record your webinar.

While speaking, try and keep your distance to your microphone consistent to ensure the audio quality for the podcast will be as high as possible.

Download The Recording

After you’ve run your webinar (and followed up with those leads of course!), download your recording — or, in the case of the ON24 Platform, Presenter Media — so you can get it ready to publish as a podcast.

Edit the Recording

Make any light edits as required to improve the audio quality of your session. In line with our other advice on scrappy marketing, keep this to a minimum to reduce the time it takes you to turn around your podcast.

Add Intro / Outro Music

Just as you should brand your webinar console, you should brand your podcast with intro and outro music. This will help add consistency to your sessions and let your listeners know when one episode has finished and another has started.

Make Creative for Podcast Channels

To help promote your podcast, put together creative (such as banners, icons, headshots) and your promo copy so those browsing for content will know what you are covering.

Upload Podcast Episode to Podcast Channels

With your podcast and creative ready, now you can upload it to your podcast channels to start gaining an audience.

ON24 uses Podbean, but there are other podcast hosting services that you can experiment with.

Transcribe Your Podcast as a Blog Post

To help your podcast work even further, consider getting it transcribed to use as a blog post.

This can be particularly useful for those who prefer not to listen or might otherwise not be able to do so.

Share the Podcast with Your Guests

Your guests will likely be delighted to be featured on a podcast! As such, they can help you market it.

Share the podcast link with them so they can promote it to their own networks.

Share the Podcast More Broadly

In line with our other scrappy marketing tips, you want to get better results for less.

Make sure you share your podcast on your other channels and get your coworkers to share it too.

Happy Podcasting!

Tune into our CMO Confession series to listen to tips from those at the forefront of the marketing industry.

4 Marketing Mindsets That Don’t Cut It Anymore

According to content marketers, content marketing today is in bad shape. It should be no surprise as to why: more content is being created, shared and promoted than ever before, but with little to focus on what content audiences actually want.

According to a joint study between ON24 and Heinz Marketing, marketers have shown a significant decline in the confidence they have in their content marketing strategies.  The problem has gotten so bad, in fact, that most marketers don’t know if they’re delivering the right content to the right audience, don’t measure performance and don’t measure results.

More Content Marketing Tips

The uncertainty around content marketing and its performance is unfortunate, but it doesn’t have to be fatal. Marketers can pull themselves out of their rut by understanding the four marketing mindsets that don’t cut it anymore.

Bad Marketing Mindset One: Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is a popular marketing mindset that exploded in the past decade. There are many different growth hacking definitions, but, in principle, the strategy centers around “grow the company no matter what.” Often, it does so through rapid campaign iterations.

The problem with most growth hacking efforts today, however, is that it distracts from the important, foundational elements a marketing program needs. Foundational strategies are thrown out the window in favor of whatever works. Buyer personas are inaccurate, not done or are targeted as “anyone and everyone.” The buyer’s journey

Growth hacking may work for a short while and provide early-stage startups with some numbers to show investors. But these early-growth sprints deplete marketing reserves at the cost of long-term, consistent growth.

Bad Marketing Mindset Two: Guesswork

Too many marketing campaigns today operate on guesswork. Marketers will share content they perceive as relevant, or popular, for an audience without considering actual pain points, needs or objectives. The guessing problem is prevalent and stems from a variety of factors.

Instead, marketers should use what they know and build from there. The scientific method — where marketers hypothesize, experiment, measure and assess — can add certainty to any content program. For example, editorial calendars can be used to plot out iterations on popular blog posts or content. They can also be changed based off of measured results.

Bad Marketing Mindset Three: More Means Better

Adding more to the pile of blogs and white papers and e-books inundates and intimidates clients and prospects. It’s also emblematic of something worse: that you don’t actually know your audience all that well.

Take the time to understand what your customers and prospects actually care about when it comes to your content. And a better understanding includes more than just the substance of the content you’re creating. Know which formats and channels drive more interaction, engagement and interest and deliver content for those channels.

Bad Marketing Mindset Four: Follow the Leader

There are a lot of marketing success stories out there. In fact, sharing those stories is a mini-industry unto itself. It’s tempting to look at the success of others and copy what they do, but copying a tactic or strategy and applying it to your marketing situation ignores the needs of your audience.

Remember that every business, yours included, is uniquely different. Your customers, selling environment and your industry add up to one requirement: content created from your organization’s unique perspective. To create this unique perspective, you need to have a strong understanding of your audience, their pain points and where and how they engage with your content.

How ON24 Does Webinar Registration Without the Forms

This past month, we tested a new registration process for our Webinar Best Practices Series. Instead of filling out a cumbersome form, users simply click a button to add the webinar to their calendar, and voilà, they are registered. This simplified process lowers the barrier to registration and, so far, has led to an uplift in our numbers. After a few requests for an explanation of how it works we decided it was time to share it with our fellow webinerds!

How it works

The mechanics are simple. Note that, while we are using Marketo to accomplish this, it should also be possible with other automation platforms.

The first thing we did was create a simple landing page with buttons to add the webinar to the user’s calendar. We marked the page with both noidex and nofollow so search engines can’t find it. We’ll explain why soon.

ON24’s integration with Marketo means we can use any action to trigger a webinar registration flow. Generally we wait for a form-fill, but, in this case, what we’re looking for is a click on either of two particular landing page links.

The information in the calendar invites is stored as query strings at the end of the links, so make sure you strip everything after (and including) the question mark off of the end of the link.

After we set up the trigger, all we have to do is add our standard registration flow steps to the smart campaign. Once that’s done, we’re ready for the races.

Things to consider

This process does have two major limitations to consider:

  1. This only works for people who have your Marketo cookie. To combat this, we only included in email sends from Marketo and we made sure that page was not findable on Google.
  2. The process doesn’t work if people forward the email. Depending on your audience, this could be a big problem. So far, it hasn’t been for us, but we are still in the testing phase.

How to Pass Off an Old Webinar As Brand New

This post is the latest in our series on scrappy marketing – an approach can help you achieve better results in less time.

Do you have a webinar in your archive which could do with being promoted again, or that you just think deserves a wider audience? Have you thought about rerunning it, as if it were brand new? How would that even work?

The good news is that your old webinars are likely to be a treasure trove of content that can help get you results. The hard work has been done, and as scrappy marketing is about doing more with less, refreshing your previous content can be a key pillar of a scrappy program.

There are a number of different approaches you can take in repurposing your old webinars. Some ideas include:

  • Running a new webinar with existing content. This is where you take your notes, slides, promotional material and other assets but run the session completely new. This can be particularly valuable if you think a tweak of the title might bring in more viewers, but want to use your content again.
  • Running an old webinar as simuliveFor this type of session, it’s easy – your recording from the previous session is presented as if it were a live, scheduled event. There’s no material difference between running a webinar live or simulive. All of the interactivity offered by polls and chat and are retained, and it still ‘feels’ live, although you should check it first to make sure that there is nothing to impact the experience. Product demos work particularly well as simulive, especially as you can have your sales team on hand for chat and typed Q&A.
  • Mixing old recordings with live content. There are two different ways you can blend this approach. The first is to take video recordings from your previous webinars and put them in as video clips and run a live webinar session either before or after these clips. This can be valuable if you’ve had a speaker that can’t present again, but you still want to use their words and presenting. The other method is to run what ON24 calls a “Sim-2-Live” session – this is where you run a simulive webinar, complete with all functionality, before rolling over to a live audio feed.
  • Promoting pre-recorded webinars as an “always-on” session. This is where you take your old webinars and host them for people to view whenever they are available. This can be particularly useful in building out evergreen content, syndicating them on third-party sites, and serving customers in different time zones.

Whichever approach you take, here are the stages you should go through to make your refreshed webinar a success.

Review your old webinar along with any related materials

Before you promote your old webinar, watch the recording and review any related assets.

This is particularly important if you plan to run your old session as simulive or Sim-2-Live. In this case, keep a careful eye out for dates and times. Check any slides don’t have a date on them that is in the past. If you happened to do a screenshare, check that there is no giveaway date or time in the menu bar.

For an “always-on” webinar, these dates are not as important, but you may want to reconsider their use on slides going forward to keep them as evergreen content.

If you’re running a brand new webinar using old content, have a quick look over your materials to see if anything needs a refresh.

Set up your webinar ready to go

Whatever type of webinar you will look to run with, make sure you get everything set up ready to capture registrations.

Use your webinar console to set a date and time for your session, or to publish it as an always-on asset.

For practical guidance on this, the Webinar Best Practices series can show you everything you need to do.

Drum up interest on the topic through social media and other channels

Start posting existing content that’s related to the webinar, such as blog posts, to social media. Look at using other tactics to start driving traffic and building authority.

Taking such an approach helps you achieve two things: firstly, it renews interest in the subject of your webinar, and secondly, it allows you to gauge the level of interest. This can help you decide which of your old webinars you will look to promote the most, which can be particularly important if you have limited budget or resources.

For live and simulive sessions, start promotion at least two weeks out

It’s best to promote your webinar over a longer period, ramping up intensity as the date of broadcast draws nearer. We suggest starting promotion at least two weeks before the day it’s due to go out, based on data in our Webinar Benchmarks Report.

If you want to take the paid route, take advantage of retargeting tools and lead gen forms offered by both LinkedIn and Facebook, which you can integrate using a platform like Zapier. Retargeting tools let you target those who have demonstrated interest in your content before, while pre-filled lead gen forms reduce the friction of signing up to the webinar, through whatever device.

You can also syndicate your webinar through demand generation platforms and third-party sites. Services like NetLine can automatically connect with your webinar and marketing automation platforms, making sure you get accurate data and a great experience for registrants.

Reap the results

If you have your webinar as “always-on”, your efforts will now start yielding registrants. Check how your promotional efforts are going and make any tweaks to keep the stream running.

For new recordings, simulive or Sim-2-Live, the date and time of the session will be the proof of your efforts. Assess how it’s worked and use that insight for your next revived webinar.

There’s no reason you can’t repeat this cycle again for any of your webinars to save you time and drive results.

For more tips, make sure to register for ON24’s session on How to Bring Your Webinars Back From The Dead.

CMO Confessions Ep. 20: Arity’s Lisa Jillson

Hello and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions, our weekly podcast encapsulating what it means to be a marketing leader in the B2B space today.

This week on CMO Confessions we have Lisa Jillson, Marketing Leader at Arity, join us to discuss what it’s like working for a spinoff company, why today’s experts should have the courage to take a stand and why the concept of right vs. right now is so important in marketing today.

If you’re interested in discovering what else Lisa has to say, you can find her Twitter profile here. If you’re interested in her background you can check out her LinkedIn profile here.

If you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Table of Contents:

How Arity was Built
Lisa Jillson’s Thoughts and Experience Behind Building Arity
The Evolution of Marketing Skill Sets Over The Last 20 Years
Where Can You Have Persuasive Advertising Power
Brands That Succeed Are Invested in Thought Leadership
Authenticity, Conviction and Controversy
Building the Right Brand With the Realities of Growth

Joe Hyland:        

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast, where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week from the chilly Chicago area is Lisa Jillson, a marketing leader at Arity. Lisa, how you doing?

Lisa Jillson:

Hi Joe. How are you?

Joe Hyland:

I am doing great. Thanks for being on the show.

Lisa Jillson:

Thanks. Thanks for having me.

How Arity was Built

Joe Hyland:        

All right, cool. Let’s dive into to things that you love doing in your day-to-day. So this can be what you’re doing on the team or just kind of broader marketing things. What are you, what are you passionate about and what do you love in marketing these days?

Lisa Jillson:

So I will start with what I am loving at Arity. I really have the unique opportunity with Arity to build something from the bottom up. You know, it’s kind of almost a marketer’s dream to be able to start a business and design and build all of the components of that business from the bottom up. So, little history Arity is, it’s a relatively new, we’re about two years old, data and analytics company. We were somewhat probably used the air quotes here, somewhat, spun out of Allstate, when we realized that the data and analytics that we were using around transportation data actually could be used in a lot more areas than just an insurance company. But we had nothing, so we got to really build the brand and the mission and the vision for where the company was going from the get-go.

Lisa Jillson:

So I don’t know that I would necessarily equate it to a true startup in that we certainly didn’t start off with anything. We started off with some assets in the tank, which is great, but we got the opportunity to be able to do things like really map out how we wanted marketing to contribute to the business. But nothing existed. So for me it’s really exciting to kind of be building everything from the bottom up and delivering some of the foundational marketing aspects without having to like either undo or build on top of things that maybe weren’t working ideally at the get-go.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s incredibly exciting. And it’s, it’s nice to do it out of a spinout of such an established brand. I’ve started from scratch at a true startup which was wonderful, I loved starting with nothing, right? You’re not wallpapering over and over existing wallpaper. What I don’t miss is the, “are we gonna make it to payroll in two weeks and we need to do another round of funding and financing?” So you do have the luxury of not having to worry about that. What’s it at? So you’re building, in a lot of ways, correct me if I’m wrong, you’re building a brand within a brand. You’re your own entity of course, but what is that like as a spinoff of Allstate and then building out this brand from scratch?

Lisa Jillson:

That’s a great question. You know, I think while we had a good overarching vision for where we wanted this to go, there were a lot of questions that we had to dive into. You know, we are a wholly owned company within the Allstate Corporation, but we had to make some decisions on how closely we wanted to tie ourselves to the overall organization. In some aspects, especially from a sales perspective, that was a huge benefit. And in other industries, it was a huge hurdle for us. So we had to think through as we were mapping out how we wanted to go to market; how we were going to play both sides of that coin. So we had to think about, you know, gosh, for these constituents, for these potential prospects, they love the fact that we’re connected to Allstate because it says credibility and history and security and data integrity and all of that. On the flip side, in some cases, we were the dinosaur and you know, I think some would say spinouts out of established companies have a high likelihood of not having success because you’re burdened with some of the more traditional stuff. And, and frankly, we were also going to be, and we are, selling to Allstate insurance competitors. And how comfortable are they going to be buying from an entity that is actually owned by somebody that they would traditionally see as a competitor?

Joe Hyland:

So how’s it going?

Lisa Jillson:

Actually, so far better than I had anticipated. I had expected that there would be far more hurdles put in our way. And I think it helps that the senior leadership of the corporation believes in the vision. And to your point earlier, we’re not worried about keeping the lights on or making payroll in two weeks. So we’re well-funded in that respect. We’ve been actually seeing a whole lot of success given that we’ve really only been around for two years and a few months.

Lisa Jillson’s Thoughts and Experience Behind Building Arity

Joe Hyland:

Okay. That’s fantastic. So you come from the advertising and agency side. So you’ve worked with a lot of big CPGs and kind of household names. How, I’m curious how that experience has shaped how you view and your philosophy on building a brand for such an established company? Whereas now even as a spinout, you’re still in early entity and you know, you’re only a few years old, so what’s the brand vision and what are the thoughts behind what you’re building?

Lisa Jillson:

So, I believe that there’s one more component in there that we’ve had to think through. And make and keep conscious as we were building out different components of the business and the brand and that is what the markets that we play in are decidedly B2B. And you know, to your earlier point, most of my career has been on the B2C side. So frankly, when I came into this role it was a little daunting. I mean do I really have the skillset to work in a B2B setting? It’s very, it can be seen as very different. I think what I’ve learned thus far is that it’s not as different as people make it out to be. Actually, if anything, I would say in the last 10 years our society has made it with the advancement of digital and an ability to use digital to communicate and persuade people.

Lisa Jillson:

There’s much less of a difference between B2B and B2C than there used to be. And when you have companies like IBM spending millions of dollars on a brand like Watson, which is a B2B entity, it kind of changes the equation of how you think about what you need to do. So, I would say our vision continues to be, two years out is that awareness is still a big portion of what we need to build. And, and that doesn’t change whether you are selling a, I dunno, laundry detergent or soda pop or you’re selling a business that’s going to be to other businesses. If you don’t have a share of mind, you can’t build some credibility around what your brand is going to stand for, then it’s going to be hard to drive them down the funnel, whether they’re going and buying a dollar item at a convenience store or they’re spending millions of dollars on a software-as-a-service contract. Both of those require the same kind of tools.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I totally agree. I think these long-held notions of pretty rigid walls between the consumer side and the B2B side of they’re crumbling. I mean, what it’s all about the scenarios you just walked through. The most important thing is you know everything humanly possible about the person at the other end of that decision or that purchase, right? And as long as you can do that and you have true empathy and you really understand what drives them, obviously there are other different levers; there’s obviously wildly different personas. That’s okay, but that’s what, to me, that’s what great marketing is about. There’s no like one-size-fits-all marketing philosophy. You have a different business than, I have and we have here. Right? And so we, you have different challenges, but you came over here and ran marketing for a webinar company you would adjust based off of what people are looking for when they’re thinking of digital marketing and buying webinar software. Right? Like you just got to know the other person, that persona.

Lisa Jillson:

I will have to say that, you know, in the last, well it’s been about three years that I’ve been kind of functioning in this role as a head of marketing for Arity. I love the flexibility that you get and the innovation that you get in the B2B world. You just have much less opportunity to do that, I think, in the B2C world. And maybe it’s because they, there’s more at stake, but I actually think it’s just because your target is so much broader that you’ve got to use more of like blunt objects to try to get the awareness built and whatnot. Whereas on the B2B standpoint, you’re a narrower target gives you actually an ability to try so many different things to figure out what levers going to get that person to be persuaded to, you know, listen to your pitch and actually sign a contract.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I agree. I think focus is a beautiful thing, right? So, and the more narrow you can get with your audience and your user more targeted you can be in your messaging and you generally have more success. What’s interesting, what I was always jealous of, so I’ve never done B2C, so while I have opinions that really they’re not grounded in experience on the consumer side. I was always jealous of how quickly data would come back. So you ran a sale or a special and you know, really quickly you can analyze sale data and behavior data and you can determine if it worked or not. And on the B2B side, 10 years ago, you just didn’t have that, right? Like it was, it was a little more of a black box, but yeah, you just started talking about the digitalization of everything we do. I mean, it’s so cool. We just get so much information back so quickly. We really should be making pretty informed and targeted decisions. And I think that’s true in the B2B side right now.

Lisa Jillson:

Yeah, definitely. I think as we all lean more into using analytics to help make smarter decisions, again, I don’t know that it changes. To me if you’ve got the right instincts to do well in marketing, it almost doesn’t matter what you’re marketing, it matters how you lean into those instincts of understanding what’s gonna persuade that user to move in a certain direction. You have to start with what are those instincts; let’s get those nailed down. Let’s get those documented and then how are you going to measure whether or not those instincts are right? Then you can drive the analytics to actually help you make those decisions. And for as much as I would say even in my early career of getting data, yeah we’d run ads and get to see the Nielsen sales data coming back. You never were quite sure where advertising played in that. Now there’s an ability on all sides to say, [inaudible]

Lisa Jillson:

Hey, stay out. You’ve got this instinct that if you pull levers, let’s say like a webinar and an email and a banner ad, you’ve got an ability to say, we think it’s going to work this way. How do we make sure that we can get some reaction or some idea of what that data is going to tell us whether our instincts were right? And if you go in, and I’ve told this to my team, we don’t have to be right; we just have to have an opinion and we have to be able to measure whether that opinion is right. It’s worse if you say “Oh, I’ve got to be right” and so, therefore, I’m not going to measure it because I don’t want to know if I’m wrong. That’s, that’s not a good position to be in.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. No, no, I agree. Yeah, where we could, where you can move from correlation to causation and really see that the drivers and the levers that are working or to your point or not, I would rather know that something’s not working than be unsure if something is working.

Lisa Jillson:

Yes, that’s exactly right.

The Evolution of Marketing Skill Sets Over The Last 20 Years

Joe Hyland:

So this is, for me, this is always a fascinating topic is so a lot’s evolved in marketing and as marketers, it’s cool because things change pretty quickly. I’m curious to get your sense on the evolution of skill sets that we as marketers have seen over the last 20 years. Because you’re right, there’s so much — there’s a wealth of information in seas of data which can be problematic as well. But you know, understanding how to make sense of that data and make smart decisions is imperative. Yet that said, there’s, I don’t think the art of marketing is going away anytime soon, but I’d love to hear from someone who has a strong agency background.

Lisa Jillson:

Yeah. You know, what was interesting when I started off at, in, some of the more traditional ad agency types out there I struggled to explain to my parents what it was that I did. And I worked in the account service side of the business, the client service accounts service. “Are you in sales?” I’m like, yeah, not really. “Are you doing ads?” No, that’s not really what I’m doing either. “Well, are you in the media on NBC?” No, that’s not me either. I finally hit on what I was doing and what I equated my skill set was almost like being a diplomat or a translator that I could understand what the client’s product was, understand who the user was — the end user, the buyer — and then try to coordinate all of the people that would help us get the product into the hands of the user in the fastest way possible.

Lisa Jillson:

And so a lot of what my skills were is to actually try to translate that equation to be able to articulate that. And I really don’t think that’s changed. I do think certainly there’s a ton of different skills that you need now that you don’t need, that you didn’t need before. I mean I’m well enough long in years that when I started in the industry, I did not have a computer. I was given a yellow legal pad and I have pointed down the hallway and said, there’s your secretary. If you want to write a memo, you can write it on this yellow legal pad and walk it down and that person will type it for you. And I’m like, oh my golly, I actually had grown up using computers, but this agency hadn’t converted. They didn’t have anything, they had some word processing typewriters. And I couldn’t think that way.

Lisa Jillson:        You know, some of my early products suite were packaged goods, but inclusive of that was actually some liquor products, which was fun — for a short time before it wasn’t fun. And you couldn’t advertise everywhere. So we actually had to get creative about what is advertising, what is it other than a message that persuades? So where could we have that persuasive power? And I think I was lucky enough early on in my career that I never was dialed into, well, the only thing that’s going to work is a, you know, a 30-second television ad or a magazine ad or what not. That there was an ability that there were all kinds of things that could persuade and that you had to figure out as those new things came to market, what they would do to change the equation.


Joe Hyland:

Yeah. By the way, I’m thinking of, I have this vision of your first office as a very madmen-esque office or where most of the work was done on legal notepads as you’re sitting on a couch, you know, about to have brandy or something.

Lisa Jillson:

Pretty much that was it without the brandy because we were all too busy to do anything else. And frankly, the agency I worked for was phenomenal. It was a great training ground. I got a really good experience there. But it’s, and I still have a lot of contacts you know, in the agency world. And I don’t think it’s too much different, but I think having the right people succeed regardless of whether you’re on, you know, client side, agency side, B2B, B2C or even ad tech is having the openness to be able to see what might be coming next and how you might choose to incorporate that because there will always be something coming next. There will always be, you know when we talk about, you know, social and things like blogs or Snapchat or whatnot, you know I look at my kids and I try to think about like, what are they going to do in the next five years? I usually don’t know. I don’t know what they’re going to do in the next five minutes, but at least it keeps me open to what’s changing.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. And what I’m hearing as you’re talking about this is like it’s always about, one, never, never fight change, right. And like never, never fight evolution. And, two, the more you can understand about the behaviors and actions and habits of others — particularly if those others are going to be your audience, the stronger you’ll be with your marketing. But I want to go back to something that there was a word that you kept using over and over a few minutes ago and it was what persuades persuasion, the art of persuasion. And I’m curious to get your sense on what feels like a bit of an epidemic right now amongst content marketing, which is more of this BuzzFeed-esque, clickbait, just do anything you can to get someone to take an action, even if it’s truthfully pretty misleading and it won’t actually persuade. I see this as a huge problem, hence using the word epidemic, amongst B2B marketers we’re just so desperate for clicks or likes or some sort of action, that we seem to be losing a bit of the art for persuasion.

Brands That Succeed Are Invested in Thought Leadership

Lisa Jillson:

I completely agree with you. And I’ll give you two anecdotes where I think this is going to play out sooner rather than later. One is — again, I’ll go back to like looking at how my kids interact with different media — they are so cynical at the things that drive them in to interact with, that I think that comes back to bite you. Even from the BuzzFeed standpoint think about it … and I’ve had some interactions with BuzzFeed, you know, in some of my previous roles. They know that is going to be important that they have credibility. Otherwise, at the end of the day, they’d become a fad, not a trend, not a credible source of information. So if as a brand leader or brand owner, all you’re looking at are things that are that don’t help build your credibility, you lose. So the other piece that I would say is evidence that will go by the wayside is that the brands that do succeed are really invested in thought leadership and the ability to be able to drive some information that your organization feels passionate about. You can’t just provide information that is nice to know. You have to kind of take a stand, and I use that term that actually that was a that’s been a key component of Allstate’s marketing for several decades. But that ability to like take a stand is very impactful and I think that…[inaudible]

Lisa Jillson:

Has a lot of impacts whether you’re an end consumer trying to decide to buy a product or your a customer deciding which vendor is going, you’re going to steer a hundred thousand or a million dollar contract to. You want to feel like whatever you’re doing it is bigger than just that one action. And if as an owner of a brand, you can’t help your organization to take a stand within its ecosystem, I think you lose the power of marketing, frankly. You don’t get the ability then you’re always looking for, you know, what’s the Jack in the box? What’s the ClickBait that is going to get you to click this time? You’re always looking for some new shiny object as opposed to having a bedrock of where you’re going to really take a stand on an issue.

Authenticity, Conviction and Controversy

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s brilliant. I think authenticity just cannot be commoditized. It is something that marketers should never, ever sacrifice and unfortunately, it feels like more and more of us are. Yeah. Take a stance, say something real, say something authentic. To your point earlier on, even if you have a point of view on what’s going to work on a marketing tactic or campaign and you’re wrong. Okay, you can get that information and make an informed smart decision. Same thing for your marketing and your content. There’s nothing wrong with being wrong. At least you start a dialogue. People can sniff out BS. Like kids can do it, we can do it as grown adults like and I think we need to move away from, you know, just trying to scratch the surface with content and let’s create some real meaningful stuff. I think our audiences will appreciate it. And that’s how, you’re right, that’s how you build something that, that will last. You need to be a thought leader. You need to be an expert.

Lisa Jillson:

Yeah. And, and frankly, you should push to be an expert in something that actually has some controversy to it.

Joe Hyland:

Exactly. I love it.

Lisa Jillson:

It can’t just be I love puppies or I think traffic accidents are bad because you know what, nobody is going to say that it’s that they’re going to be for the reverse side of that. It actually has to be something that you have conviction behind that may be a bit controversial. And then to think about it within the context of content marketing. If you have something like that, gosh, it becomes infinitely easier to develop 27 different avenues by which we can communicate about that one issue. If it’s vanilla or it is not really a stand, it’s going to be really, really hard to figure out how many different — it’s almost like how many different kinds of wrapping paper can you put around the same topic? It won’t feel different and it frankly won’t drive any kind of content marketing in the truest sense.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. And you know, that’s interesting, boy I could do this for hours, that’s an interesting topic for big established brands versus brands trying to make it in a new market, right? Or, or build a market. So, I think, for example, you know more about Coke’s brand than I do, but if you were the number one player, maybe you don’t take as many risks like you’re okay with the status quo. And you truthfully don’t want things to change. If you’re trying to disrupt a market, you damn better be loud. You better be controversial. Like you just need attention. Yeah, that’s how you start a dialogue. There’s nothing wrong with being controversial. You don’t want to sound like a total jerk, but get a discussion going.

Lisa Jillson:

Well, and you’ve even seen some of the big brands, let’s go back to Coke. They have taken a stand on things. They have been controversial. Some of the recent advertising that they even did on the Super Bowl pushed the envelope.

Joe Hyland:

It’s true, it’s true.

Lisa Jillson:

That have of that conversation more on a B2C standpoint. But I don’t think any brand can afford to be safe. Because of the way that users are interacting with brands, and I think that holds even from a B2B perspective, that a — if I’m expecting somebody to write a check to my company for services that we’re going to provide, it’s not just going to be about a price. It’s going to be because they believe that we bring something to the table, that we bring a lot of value and a conviction to the table. They don’t necessarily have in-house. Otherwise, why would they pay us?

Joe Hyland:

That’s true. Yeah. And to your point, they got to believe that they should believe in your vision, right? Like, no one wants to write a seven-figure check for something that you’ve done years ago. Right. Like they want to feel like they’re picking the right partner to bring them to the next chapter, whatever the chapter is going to be.

Lisa Jillson:

That’s exactly right.

Building the Right Brand With the Realities of Growth

Joe Hyland:

Well what about pressures to, what about pressures on growth? So this is a brilliant discussion so far on brand and the right way to do content. What do you say to marketers out there who would respond to us and say, “Okay, Lisa and Joe, that’s great, but like I’ve got an incredibly aggressive pipeline target like next month? Like I need to, yeah, maybe I’m getting out shitty content, but I’m doing it because you know, I got to have volume but I need to get things in the market.” How do you balance building the right brand with the realities of growth?

Lisa Jillson:

Yeah, I do think of it as a balance. I don’t know that there is one right equation for any of that. You have to calibrate it at the end of the day. As my boss, our president would like to say, you either are in sales or you work for sales. We don’t have jobs if we don’t drive growth. It’s that simple. So we can say that we want to go all in it for the bigger picture, but if we can’t also show that that will actually help us drive to growth, then you’re, you’re kind of SOL. But it is, it’s a hard balance. And I think it’s especially hard from a marketing standpoint because oftentimes I think, especially on the B2B side, it’s actually easier on the B2C side because they’re all run by, those companies are run by marketers.

Lisa Jillson:

You know, we’re a voice at the table and we know we have the experience to understand what levers will help drive forward. But you, you’re often trying to make sure that that voice has the credibility needs to have in the C-suite that you’re all kind of coming at it through the lens of your own viewpoint. And I’ve gotta be able to convince the sales team and the product team and the engineering team and the customer success team that the vision through marketing is actually going to have a net benefit and be helpful to them because it’s, if I’m a team player on this team, I’m not driving all the decisions. And you know, if there’s something that has to be done tomorrow, then it has to be done tomorrow that it, you know, that’s all there is to it. You do have to make that balance.

Joe Hyland:

First of all, I love that quote. You’re either in sales or you work for sales. I think it’s so true. And you just said that very well. As long as you’re looking through the growth lens that can, that can dictate, dictate and shape the decisions. I think where marketers get themselves in trouble is when they decide to be totally agnostic of growth at least in the B2B world. You will not be received very well on the sales side. And ultimately the CEO is held accountable for growth, right? So everyone is in sales.

Lisa Jillson:

Yeah. We, we actually even looked at our plans because a lot of what we’re still building is like the foundational components of how we’re going to do this in the future. We have two columns: the right, and the right now and we have filled both of those columns because if we just do the right. We’ll get screwed. We and if we just did right now, we will never get it right, so we actually have to have both of those columns filled.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Wel,l that’s brilliant. I think that’s a perfect, perfect place to end. Lisa, thank you. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed the time. And, thanks. Thanks again for joining us.

Lisa Jillson:

Thanks, Joe. Was a lot of fun.

How Marketers Are and Are Not Breaking Through the B2B Noise

Most of what constitutes content marketing today is noise. While papers are drafted, reports are written, social media is scheduled and ads are bought, the marketing needle sits still. That’s because noise doesn’t stand out, drive interest or engage audiences. But that doesn’t mean content marketing isn’t worth the effort.

A joint report between Heinz Marketing and ON24, “Cut Through the B2B Noise: Drive Engagement, Action, Conversion and Loyalty,” found that while content marketing today is suffering in general, there is a path to success.

Learn How Content Can Drive Engagement

The Bad News Around Content Marketing Today

The report found that most ineffectual content marketing programs aren’t organized around data, measurements and audiences. Without a proper content infrastructure in place, marketers, in the short-term, are taking a step back from where they should be.

First, the report found only one in four content marketing professionals are confident in their strategy. Up to 47 percent of respondents rate their strategy as “somewhat effective.” Another 20 percent say their strategy isn’t effective at all.

Second, marketers are having a hard time generating relevant content. The report found that more than 45 percent of respondents are somewhat or not confident at all that they’re creating relevant content. By contrast, only one in five respondents say they’re very or extremely confident they’re creating content relevant to target audiences.

Third, marketers aren’t confident in their ability to measure the impact of content. According to the report, more than 70 percent of surveyed marketers say they’re only somewhat or not at all confident in their ability to measure the impact of their content marketing efforts. Only 13 percent of respondents say they’re extremely or very confident in measuring content impact.

All this adds up to an ecosystem where marketers lack confidence in their content. According to the report, more than 65 percent of marketing professionals claim to be only somewhat confident or not confident that their content is driving desired revenue results.

What Is Working In Content Marketing

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The small percentage of B2B content marketing programs that are successful share remarkably similar patterns. These programs, according to the report, tend to prioritize engagement, personalize content and are aligned around a customer story.

The report found that, of the marketers who have high confidence in the ability of their programs, successful content is usually shared through certain formats and channels. These media clearly have a preference for two-way, interactive engagements with audiences — increasing the time spent with high-performing content.

But what makes for high-performing content? The report found that the most successful content programs focus intensely on personalizing the experiences. In fact, many of the marketers who report content marketing success say they focus more on the experience than they do for scale and efficiency — especially when it comes to high-target accounts.

Part of what makes this personalization possible, the report found, is the ability to empathize with the buyer’s story. For example, instead of sharing the company’s story, successful content marketers develop content focusing on the prospect’s story first. Doing so lengthens the buying cycle, but it builds interest and engagement in accounts that matter.

Finally, found that great content marketing programs are a team effort. Marketing, sales and customer departments tend to be heavily aligned and share a consistent story across channels. The added benefit of tightly-integrated teams, in fact, is the ability to use the same content and story from team to team, providing customers and prospects with a consistent experience.

Most content marketing efforts today are in a bad place. They’re disorganized, uncertain and need a foundational platform to build from. Over the next few weeks, ON24 will explore the basics of building a content marketing program that breaks through the B2B noise and connects with the audience. Keep an eye on this space to learn more.