I closed my laptop last Friday and was hit with a feeling of exhaustion.
Typically, it’s a feeling of starvation. Friday is fajita night take out at my house. (Shout out La Margarita!)
I was spent.
It felt like Friday Night Lights all over again and I had left it all on the field.
I wanted fajitas, but I kind of just wanted to go to bed.
I think anyone who has worked on a small, highly productive, early stage team knows this feeling.
It’s the feeling of never ending work that is just as satisfying as it is terrifying.
We have to be crazy to do this startup thing, right?
I was feeling this way because I spent the week not only tackling all of my standard priorities, but also meeting with several new content marketers every day.
These conversations are my opportunity to do deep dive to learn more about the people that we will be trying to reach when we launch our company in May.
Content marketers are a really passionate group that holds the keys to create a substantial shift for the better in B2B marketing….more on that later.
I decided to do what you aren’t supposed to do when detaching yourself from work for the week.
I opened my laptop back up because I wanted to make sure I had completed all of the follow ups with the content marketers that I had met with all week.
The fajitas were delayed, but it was ok because I was hit with a breakthrough.
Breakthroughs aren’t supposed to happen at 5:45 PM on a Friday night, but I wasn’t denying it.
This pivotal moment can be described as an epiphany like situation.
I quickly came to terms that all of the answers were never going to be found in our internal conversations.
This is coming from a team of 5 where 3 of us are marketers.
I realized that all of the answers were in the conversations and follow ups that I was scrambling to complete.
Here’s what I’ve learned as a career long B2B marketer:
The best way to level up in the market that you serve is to prioritize conversations with the people that make that market move.
This might sound like some basic information, but I think more people need to hear it.
I spent nearly the first decade of my career in B2B marketing thinking I knew and understood what the audience cared about.
I was dead wrong.
I’m not one to spend too much time reflecting on the past unless I think I can learn something from it.
There’s a lot of B2B marketing sins that I am guilty of from my years in the game.
I did forms.
I wrote blog posts built for algorithms.
I created a lot of campaigns that were obsessively focused on my KPIs and not helping the people I was trying to reach.
The biggest blackmark I put on a majority of my run as a B2B marketer is not having enough authentic exchanges with the people that I was trying to reach.
For us, it’s the content marketer.
There’s two factors that makes these conversations exceptional for me:
- I am a content marketer and can empathize with the obstacles that I am hearing many people work through
- The content marketer is not only the future customer of the Juice, but also a key persona in our member community
ICYMI: We announced yesterday on the 3C Podcast that our company will be called The Juice moving forward. If you want more on the details or curious about what goes into naming a company check out the episode.
We are on a mission to build a frictionless content experience for content consumers.
We are also focused on providing brands the opportunity to use our platform to extend their branded content (e.g. e-books, podcasts, videos, guides, etc.) to our network of members.
It’s a challenging and exciting opportunity.
We’ve all felt the pain of bad content experiences in B2B marketing.
Are you willing to admit that you’ve been a part of delivering those experiences, too?
The content marketers that I have been Zooming, Slacking, or Tweeting with over the past couple of months are saying it to.
The “aha” moment that was interrupting my fajita feast couldn’t be ignored.
I started to write down these thoughts and felt like they were important to share in this post with you today.
These are the perspectives that I have formed from hours and hours of networking with content marketers like me.
I’ll use these assumptions to develop our messaging, write email subject lines, create podcast episodes, build themes for campaigns, and all of the other marketing things that make early stage companies move.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but if we can unite around these concepts I believe that monumental change can take place in B2B marketing.
This change will not only create a better experience for the people who we are here to serve, but will make for more meaningful work for the content creators.
There’s an old v. new way to do B2B marketing
I’ll start by mentioning there are components to the old way that bleed into the new way and vice versa.
Elements of the old way include:
- Lead volume is primary KPI for success
- Forms are used to capture information
- Content is build for algorithms and then people
- Marketing and Sales teams aren’t integrated
- Inspiration for content, campaigns, and other tactics is driven from internal conversations
Elements of the new way include:
- A combination of brand metrics (e.g. mentions, audience growth, social presence, etc.) and sales metrics create go-to-market KPIs that teams rally around
- Frictionless access to content for their audience
- Content is built for specific audience segments and delivered through a developed distribution strategy
- Marketing teams can be found in Revenue Teams
- Inspiration for content, campaigns, and other tactics is driven from customer conversations
Content marketing is the catalyst for change
In almost every conversation that I’ve had since I started at the Juice I’ve learned that content marketers are either:
- Operating in the new world of B2B marketing and their work is the gasoline that fuels its success
- Pushing their organization or departments to step into the new world and spending each day trying to prove the reasons why
It has been inspirational to hear the passion behind the content marketer when discussing where they are at on the B2B marketing spectrum.
Progressive leadership teams understand the impact that companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify have had on the B2B buyer. They’ve opened the door for experimentation with how they reach their new customers understanding that they are more inclined to “binge” content that's made available rather than fill out a form.
Content marketers who are struggling feel like they are pushing a boulder up a hill. They are a part of teams that are stuck in their ways not adapting to the undeniable changes that are happening around them.
Patience, consistency, and testing are some of the words I hear every customer centric content marketer use
The standard flow of my conversations goes like this:
- REMIND: Present back the purpose of the conversation and the reason I reached out for time
- SET STAGE: Present some additional context for what I am looking to achieve
- CONFIRM: A simple confirmation from the content marketer to make sure we are on track
- INTRODUCE: Share my background, what I am working on, how they can help
- PASS MIC: Let content marketers share information about their point of view on B2B marketing, how content marketing fits in, and how they are operating in their role
- NEXT STEPS: Tell marketers what they can expect from me ahead
This structure has been an effective way for me to understand the motivations and desires of today’s B2B content marketer.
It has helped shed the light on patterns and words used when I am trying to better understand what makes someone a new era customer centric content marketer.
They are patient: Breaking the cycle is challenging and results don’t fall from the sky over night. The customer centric content marketer is confident with the new way and understands that it can take time to gain legitimate traction in their market segment.
They are consistent: Publishing value driven content on the regular is how the customer centric content market thrives. There is an extreme dedication to pushing out messages that are written for the people they are serving.
They test: It can be different messages or different channels. The customer centric content marketer is obsessed with learning and refining everything they are doing to support the best interest of their content consumers.
When I closed my laptop for the second time on Friday night I felt satisfied.
Not fajita feast satisfied, but mentally stimulated by the opportunity we all have as B2B content marketers.
I ended up ordering delivery instead out of convenience.
It wasn’t very good.
A reminder that convenience is important, but we can never forget quality.
If you can deliver both consistently then you’ll gain traction.
Fajitas next Friday.
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Hope you enjoy this episode and have a great start to your week 💯.