Becoming the Best Marketer You Can Be, with Nick Bennett

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode Benji talks to Nick Bennett, Director of Evangelism & Customer Marketing at Alyce. 

Discussed in this episode: 

  • Why ABM is misunderstood and wrongly used
  • How to use content to scale your career
  • The importance of having a strong POV

Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is B two B growth. Today I am joined by Nick Bennett, Director of Evangelism and customer marketing at Alice and Nick, we are privileged to have you here with us on B two growth. Man, welcome in. Yeah, thanks for having me. Super excited to be here. Yes, I love the content you're putting out on Linkedin. We're like minded in the podcast space as well, so pleasure to get to chat with you. I know one of the reasons when we've been back and forth for like the last few months, but one of the reasons I was pumped to chat today is just because the content that you preach on Linkedin, I'm like, okay, there's there's some similar stuff going on here, and I even like took one of your posts and I was like we need to talk about this right off the top, because I think it sets up so much of how we're like minded and thought. But you were talking in the last week about just develop your P O v Create demand by creating content, captured demand through search, and then you actually took it a step further and you talked about how, like that's the part maybe people are talking about, but optimizing for sales and a B M. it's like all this stuff, man, that we have been preaching at sweet fish and B twob growth as well. So I was just like slow clap for Nick. I was gonna say. So many people get caught up in like the ability where they think it's just like, you know, create demand, captured demand, but like they forget the other two pieces of it and so like yeah, I mean I'm sure you see it too, like people on Linkedin, like all they talk about captured the men create demand, like we get it, but like what's that next step after that? Yes, I think that's a really interesting conversation because it's almost like in B two B we do have to continue to beat the drum of like create demand and especially as I know you're really into branding. We're really both into content. You see the effect fiveness of it. So it makes sense that we would be like preaching create demand and then you can talk about content. You can, but I have been asking a lot more questions, nick, to about that that that latter stage. Like how do we actually use the content that we're creating in a more effective way for sales? What are the like a B M plays and I know account based marketing even has evolved quite a bit in the last couple of years and it's it's definitely a I don't know, just one of those terms people may be avoid a little because it could mean a little different things to different people. Let's let's just go there. I think for a few minutes I'll be really, really good for the marketers listening to this to be thinking beyond just the content creation and and creating and capturing demand. When you think of optimizing for sales and that a B M effectiveness, what what are you seeing there? What are you thinking about there? What are the questions you're asking to be more effective? Yeah, I mean I think it's it starts with, like the goal is to lead with education and insight, because so many people, like the A B m term is such a buzzword that like everyone wants to do. But I join a lot of like prospect calls and I join a lot of customer calls and they're just like I want to use gifting for a B M, and the first question that I'll ask them is like okay, great, what's your a B M strategy? And I get a different answer every single time. It's like either our leadership team wants to do it, or like our sales team gave us three accounts and said, like this is what we need to go after on the marketing side, or like a variety of other things. And it's just like, if it's not a company wide initiative, in more than just like account based marketing, it's like, okay, account based everything from an outbound perspective, like okay, sales, marketing, reboups all coming together like it's not, if you think about it's not just marketing developing that list or sales developing that list. It's like everyone collective, including your revops or marketing ops person, coming together...

...to create what does this this look like? That then supports, you know, everything else, from the creation of demand, the capturing of demand, the messaging and point of view that, honestly, you shouldn't come up with yourself. It should be your customers that are helping you, you know, basically create that unique point of view. And it's more than just s features and capabilities. Because listen, like, and we run into this all the time, like anyone, like people can just still features and capabilities, like they'll just build it, like it's not that hard, but like if you stand for something, and this is always just something that I've done on like Linkedin and just personally in general, it's like I have a strong Pov when it comes to certain things, like around events or around field marketing or around a B M that like may not be the same as everyone else, but I feel like that's what helps me differentiate as well and then educate everyone around it. M Hmm. It's so interesting how all of these pieces flow into each other. Like some people would think of like oh well, we can run some sort of a b m play without doing the what some people think of Po v as like a brand exercise. It's like, well, that's actually the strongest way to get those people behind your message and like see if they actually want to buy into what you're doing is to to know what that P O V is. And you said this before we started recording, so I wonder if this is your experience. I know you spent time in sales before marketing. So I did too, and the common thing I think of now is I'm like, man, they built out their sales team before they added anyone from marketing. So we're having all these brand conversations way too late, like their sales team isn't properly equipped to go to market because they haven't really had any P O v Type. They know the products and features that they're selling, they don't know the message they're taking to the market. Yeah, absolutely, and I feel like that's what happens a lot. Like if you think about a lot of these like early stage tech companies especially, it's like what's the first thing that they invest in? It's like usually sales and so you have the C s people and you might have one marketer, but how can one marketer do all of these other things as well until you start to like raise funding, start to build out the team? It's it's hard and like we're a marketing team of, I believe, ten people right now, and so we still struggle with like some of these things and being able to hit on like all these big rocks that we want to do, and we know there's more that gets needs to get done, but it's again it's like, you know, hey, you're a smaller team, like we need to basically dominate where we can dominate and like tackle the things that we know we can do well. Because if you're gonna have asked stuff like what's the point of doing that? It's like all right, like you're wasting cycles at that point. M Hm. Did you ever read Dave Your Heart's book founder brand? So I haven't yet. It's it's on my list. Good. It's a good book to be on your list. The idea of it's gonna it's probably just gonna have you saying Amen quite a bit, like because it's it's just saying your founder should start producing content. Content is the easiest thing to like get people to buy in early on, especially if you're early stage, and then if you can scale that out over time and have a founder that cares about marketing, you know like all the advantages of that. I've been thinking about that quite a bit where I'm like, okay, if you were to start with a marketing minded CEO, which I think will happen more and more as we go into the future. They start that way, you could still actually, technically, I think, build out your sales team before you build out your marketing team. If your founder really knew like the P O v, because they have some of that right there doing sales, but if they were to document in a different way there p O v and do some of what you were advocating for in your post. If they did that early on and modeled it, I think you can still scale the same way and just build out marketing later. I don't know, that's maybe a side tangent, nick, but that that is something I've been thinking about a lot. Okay, so let's let's go back to that sales and a B M effectiveness. If someone came to you, nick and there, let's say they're...

...the perfect customer, like they're playing, you're playing this out with Alice, so they know their a B M strategy incredibly well. What would that conversation look like like? The best client you could possibly work with, knowing their a B M strategy, because then we can glean some things from that. I think. Yeah, no, absolutely so. I think it's I think it's the ones that realized that, like you know, in using Alice as an example, it's the ones that understand the gifting is not a silver bullet, it's an amplifier to the other channels that you're running. And so, honestly, it's funny because we actually just recently came to market with a new messaging in a P O v ourselves a couple of months ago. It might be like two months old now, and so we decided we're gonna go. We call it outbound love. So again, gifting nice to have like in your, you know, a B M strategy. Like yeah, like people just send gifts randomly, one off to break into new accounts or like accelerate deals, but like there's no strategy behind it. But if you're using it as an amplifier to the other channels that you're already running, like paid events, communities, like you know whatever, like you then amplify that and you have a strategy because you're not just using it as a solo channel. So when I think of, you know, some of our our best customers, that's how they're using gifting in the way that they're thinking about in their a B M strategy. It's across the entire biased journey. Is it to break into new accounts? Absolutely is that. Is it to break into cold accounts? That hasn't haven't been warmed up at all? No, absolutely not, because you're gonna be wondering why your conversion rates are so low and why your gift spend is through the roof. But, like people aren't actually following through with the meetings that they're being booked, but if you're using it strategically throughout the events that are curated to do elevated experiences, if you're doing it for dinners, as a follow up or as a way to get people to fail, like you know v I p, and then, as you're using it through to advocacy when they're a customer or to prevent churn, to just celebrate them for being them, especially in the market that we're in today. Like, think about that. Like people, like people, aren't loyal to the companies that they're like, you know, purchasing. It's like hey, whatever is the cheaper product that can help me and still have the same functionality. Like great, but if you go that extra mile and you tie in that gifting experience to that, again it's it's an amplifier to everything else you do. Yeah, that connectiveness is, I think, such a big part. Like you're not gonna run a B M and a vacuum in a corner and then also have it's like it needs to be infused in in all of your marketing and again, not in beyond marketing, but that's that's great. Okay, so one of the things we were thrown around as an idea before this this podcast, is it's one thing to look at our organizations from okay, here's the macro, like our entire team, here's all the marketing channels we're running, the plays we're doing right now, our budget. It's an other thing to be thinking of yourself personally as a well rounded marketer and to go like what are the areas for me personally that I can continue to grow in to be more valuable in my company, in my future career? And so for you, even with your thinking around branding a lot of your content on Linkedin. It's beneficial to Alice that you would do that stuff, but it's also beneficial to you. So I wanted to take this in a way of going, all right, let's talk about for you, Nick, how have you continued to develop as a marketer, and then maybe how can we encourage our audience to continue to improve personally so that we can be at our best? So for you, just tell me a little bit about your journey as a marketer and like what's what's been most valuable to you to continue to grow? So I've been a traditional field marketer and a B M Marketer for the last almost ten years for different tech companies and like the series B, two series d stage. So like I feel like as a field marketers, someone that understands it inside and now understands how to be a revenue partner to the...

...sales team. Like I get that. Like I feel like I've kind of, I don't want to say like plateaued at that point, but like I feel like I know as much as I can know, which is why I'm actually in a new role, because I've never done customer marketing before. It's a completely different shift, and so it's part of the reason that I wanted to move into this. Plus Evangelism one. I feel like everything that I've done on like linkedin like the brand building, like all of that over the last two and a half years. Not like you mentioned. Not only does it drive actual pipeline revenue for Alice, but it also helps me come across to do podcast, to do events. Like also from the long game, I'll never have to apply to a job again in my life, hopefully, and if I do, I did something completely wrong these last couple of years. But hopefully I've built up a big enough network where, like, if I was to get laid off tomorrow, like I could put something on Linkedin and be like hey, unfortunately, you know, my time's over at Alice. I'm looking for that next role and hopefully my inbox would flood with people like Hey, like I would love for you to come here. That would be ideal. But, like I think it's you know, I feel like the pandemic has kind of accelerated learning for a lot of marketers and I think community is a big piece of that community and then the content piece to right. It's like it's there in tandem. Exactly. Yeah, because, like, if you think about it, like so many communities popped up during like when covid started, and like more just seemed to always like pop up, and like you've got these slack communities, you've got discord communities, facebook communities, but like there's so many brilliant marketers there and there that, like, you know, before stuff started coming back in person, like you would hop on calls with them, like one to one calls. We would do these roundtables around different topics or themes and like I learned so much stuff about things that I didn't know. Like, you know, I use customer marketing as an example. Like I am not a customer marketer. I'm not even sure if it's something I want to do long term, but like I'm doing it because understand retention is such a big part of, like, especially in this market, what we need to focus on. So I'm being a team player, but, like, I don't know, like I understand the basics of it, but I've had to go to other people that I built relationships with that are really that have been doing customer marketing for five, ten years, and be like hey, like does this, like does this make sense to you? Like, am I thinking about this the right way? And like, honestly, that's helped me be a better customer marketer, just from talking to them, and I think that's what we should all focus on, is building real, authentic relationship, especially through content linkedin tiktok whatever. Like, at the end of the day, the goal is to build those authentic relationships so that you can you know, it's it's like a two way street. Like you know, they may ask you questions, you're asking them questions. I now have access to VPS of marketing and CMOS that, like, I would never have had access to before from creating content, and so like I can ask them questions about like hey, like, like what is your Customer Market Strategy Look like? And like they'll tell me and it's been really refreshing and they'll be in honest seem to see like what happens over the next year too, especially as like even more things like people get back out there, things just kind of like fade away and hopefully we don't have any like you know, monkey pops like crazy pandemic. But like, yeah, I would say that's probably the biggest things, like doubling down on like community and content creation and just building those relationships. It's interesting because it seems like your journey man. We talked about Dave gearhart once already. I'll just bring him up a more time. He's top of mind right now for some reason. But brand, demand and product is usually how I hear him splitting up, like how he thinks about the marketing teams he builds out, and I think those are great categories. But then I was putting that personally in your journey and going it seems like you're actually intentionally spending time like in all three or by necessity right now, and this market was what alse needs. Like okay, I'm doing some customer stuff which is more maybe on the product side of things. so that creates a well rounded marketer to where you can you're not gonna...

...spend all your time fulfilling all three of those functions because your team's been, like you know, it's actually has more than you. So then it's you're able to speak the language, though, of the marketers that are on your team when they're focused specifically in one of those, those three areas. For the last few years, as you've done on Linkedin at least. Brand is this big deal to you? How does that sit with the work you're currently doing with customer like experience, and how has your knowledge with brand kind of partnered with that? Yeah, I think it's. You know, when when I started creating content on Linkedin, it was around the Lens of like field marketing because out of the millions and millions, I don't even know, it was like I think there's like seven hundred or eight hundred million people that use linkedin. I don't know the exact number, but like no one talks about field marketing on a consistent basis and so I was just like great, I can educate people around what it is and how it's more than just events and I can connect to other field marketers and so like I literally took that path for like a solid six to eight months, and so that's what a lot of people started to like think of me as, like Oh, you know, he's a field marketing person, and like that was really cool and like I liked it, but I was just like there's more that I want to talk about, like I don't want to just be like pigeonholed into just talking about this. And so then I branched out and started to talk about a B M and like personal branding and like just marketing stuff and just whatever I wanted to talk about. Like I try to bring my entire authentic self onto the platform, because I don't want it to seem like all right, like hey, he only self promotes or he only does this and like doesn't actually like give back and like seem like a real person. It's like I post pictures of like my daughter, like, you know, me playing baseball, things like that, and like I just want people to know like hey, like I'm just a regular person, just like you, and like I just approachable and like I answer D M, I answer messages, like all that stuff, and it's been really interesting to see. Like now Alice, we sell to that I C P of field marketers, a B M marketers, demand and event people, and so we, like I'm already connected to all of our target accounts, all of our target buyers within those accounts. So they've been seeing my content for a while and that's, I think, partly why I've been so successful in driving a lot of pipeline revenue. Jumping on these calls market to marketer like just showing success. I mean, if it was in I t or another industry like, it obviously wouldn't be as good. But like, we've been able to have a lot of success with this and I think that's partly why was the original path that I took. And being a marketer selling to marketers, it's a lot easier. It makes sense to when you look at the path of most of the linkedin creators that are actually like building some some platform. They start in an area. I love that you started in field marketing because I also think there's still so much space with the content I see on Linkedin at least, which, granted, I'm not connected to everybody, I'm not looking at everybody's content, but I would love to follow some some linkedin like thought leaders or influencers who are really good at like trade shows and they're just showing behind the scenes of how that's working for them. There's so many niches that I'm not in that it would be fun to follow someone who is so that if I was ever at that scale or needed that type of marketing, I would know who sits in that space. So there's so much room for that, that type of stuff, but I don't I think linkedin has barely scratched the surface of like what thought leadership is, because for so long it was text and now it's like, okay, people are sharing their micro content, but it's not really a creative micro content. It could be funny, but it's like not behind the scenes as much. It's not. There's so much room to play that. Man, think about the content you create now, man, and then what you would you created two and a half years ago if you had done like fun creative stuff in field marketing. There's just there's so much greens or white space, absolutely and it's I feel like that's where tiktok's coming in, though, and I feel like leveraging those tiktok videos onto linkedin, like are good it,...

...but I feel like B two B is just scratching the surface on Tiktok and like there's a good chunk of us that are on there. But like even myself, like I don't give like day in the life or like back stuff, and I'm still trying to figure out my strategy there. Like I've just been like repurposing podcast content, like I gotta figure like better ways, like an actual strategy. I just haven't had the time to like devote to it. But yeah, it's you know, it's it's so interesting because I think I completely agree, like there's so many things I would love to know about like content marketing and like other aspects of marketing that I feel like I know a little bit about, but like I would love to learn more. Like I want to see like a day in the life, like I just want some series of like days in the life of different aspects of marketing on like a weekly basis. Well, maybe we just created like a series or something that needs to happen with our our favorite creators. I love it. Okay, so I want to I want to start to round this conversation and wrap it up with two questions. So the first one is we've talked about some of the content strategy, some a B M stuff. We've talked about sort of rounding ourselves off being better marketers. If someone's leaving this episode with you and I having this conversation, nick, what would be your advice to someone who's like trying to continue to improve? Is there a specific thing that you've implemented that you're like, man, I recommend doing this, reading, this, this type of rhythm, anything like that's been really helpful for you to continue to to improve as a marketer that you want to give away to our audience. So, I mean it's pretty simple, but I would just say reach out to people that you are, like I like, minded to you that maybe you want to learn from on Linkedin, especially if their content creators, and just send them a message like Hey, I love your content. Tell them why. I'd be like, I would love to like just pick your brain for like thirty minutes just to dig deeper into what you talk about, because I'm hoping it could help me from my career, and you'd be surprised at how many people will actually say yes to that, regardless of title. Yep, I would, and I would add to. Sometimes people are like nervous. So, if we want to go personal for a second, my I started podcasting just because I wanted to be like a better creative, a better leader. I did not think, nick that this could ever be a job and now it's like my full time thing, which is so mind blowing. But I was too nervous, and people live far away from me to be like, I cannot, can we grab coffee, because I have nothing to offer. But if I start a podcast, then I can bring you on the show and you're more likely because it's content that you can share. Like I was already thinking that way, so that's why I started it. If you make an ask of someone on Linkedin that, especially if they're like really busy macro influencer type person, just even offer hey, I would love to offer this, like give something of value to them, even if it's like a post on linkedin about it, or like gratitude after the fact that they gave you some time. I think that's such a big deal. You can ask anyone, and I'm so glad that you highlighted that. You can ask anyone and the worst thing they could do is say no, sorry, man, I don't have time right now, like you're no worse for the wear. You're fine, exactly that. That's a great point about that too, because I have a lot of people that will reach out to me and they'll be like hey, like, you know, do you have like thirty minutes? And I'm like I do, like do you mind if we like just do it in like a couple of weeks and they're like yeah, and like we do in like a lot of them will like write posts like saying like how thankful they were, like, you know, do something and like some of it's turned into actual like deals for Alice, just because I took the time to like have a conversation and like it goes. It goes a long way for sure. Yeah, to just show appreciation, to go the extra mile to know that like you're just hitting someone up randomly. So we've all had the cold email, the cold d m on Linkedin hit us. That's like it just feels like it's off versus the people that I've also met with and it's been amazing. It's been an incredible experience all the way through. Most of the time it's because of the attitude you come in with, like don't expect something but come prepared, have the questions ready for conversation and then whatever you can offer, why not offer it? So I love that. Okay, here's my last question. This one's just more of a...

...fun one that I wanted to end with you on, and I'll just read it straight from my nose. I said, if I granted you the necessary budget to run a marketing experiment of your choosing, what would you want to explore right now? So not something that you know would work. You don't have to like, but like this is what nick would try. If you had budget to try a marketing experiment. I would try content creation in person through micro events. And I know, I know, partly it works, but like, I feel like it could be so much more versus just like a one type of event, and so like I would double down on that, especially as in persons coming back. Like why not just get like ten marketers together to hang out? Like no, like it's not even Alice related, just like get together, talk about a B M or whatever, and like we're all hanging out, we have a video person that's shooting content from it, capturing thoughts from the conversation. You've got audio grams coming from you've got video pieces of it. You've got a nice little recap that then everyone can like use and repurpose however they want. Like. Plus, you're building those relationships and like I would love to do that around the US. Yes, I like that. I think we had the covid year and like the time when we were all just like in our house, soloed out, and it gave us time to think about content creation in a new way, or or for some people to like have time to finally scale that and see the importance of it, bringing back and infusing, I think, in person creation of content together. There's something that that's something I hope to tap into as well. I love that. Well, nick, this has been a really fun conversation. Thank you for sharing your insight, your wisdom. Tell us a little bit more about Alice and then, obviously you don't need to tell us where to connect with you. We know it's Linkedin, but maybe just a little bit about about Alice and where that we can check that out. Yeah, absolutely so, Alice where be Theo B gifting platform. So if you want to break into new accounts, accelerate deals, surprise and delight your customers, you can definitely check out alice stock calm and if you want to actually try it yourself, alice dot com slash tour I built a brand new product tour self guided. Experience it at your own and yeah, if you have any questions, I want to learn more about gifting or how it plays into an a B M strategy. Always feel free to reach out. Perfect well, if you're new to the show and you're listening right now, go ahead and follow so you never miss an episode. We're having conversations like this. We're talking to original research and we have two thousand episodes in the archive, so we're always bringing back some of that content as evergreen content to continue to make us better marketers. and Uh so, with that, you can connect with me on Linkedin as well. We'd love to hear from you talk marketing. Nick, absolutely great to have you on the show man. Yeah, it was a pleasure. Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed it. B Two B growth is brought to you by the team at sweet fish media. Here at Sweet Fish, we produced podcasts for some of the most innovative brands in the world and we help them turn those podcasts into micro videos, linkedin content, blog posts and more we're on a mission to produce every leader's favorite show. Want more information? Visit Sweet Fish Media Dot Com.

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