Brand & Revenue Marketing: A Delicate Balance

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Marketing leaders have long struggled with the seemingly conflicting demands of building brand and driving revenue.

In this episode of Marketing Spark, Steve Watt, V.P, Marketing with Grapevine6, talks about the importance of branding, messaging, and positioning as important foundational elements that underpin marketing and sales success. 

A highlight of the conversation was how content such as eBooks, case studies, and Webinars should be un-gated (no email addresses required) to drive distribution as widely as possible.

For more about Steve and this Marketing Spark episode, check out the show notes.

Welcome to marketing spark, the podcast that delivers insight, tools and tips from marketers and entrepreneurs, and small doses. By small doses. I'm talking about conversations that are fifteen minutes or less with marketers about their successes, failures and what they've learned along the way. Today I'm speaking with Steve Watt, experience bdb marketing leader who's expertise ranges from messaging and strategy to ABM. Steve is currently VP marketing with grapevine six. Welcome to marketing sparks, Steve. Thrilled to be here. Mark, thanks for having me on the show. One of the things that you've been writing a lot about on linked recently, linked in recently, and that I've been commenting on your on your on your post, is the balancing act, or the Yin and Yang between brand and revenue marketing or performance marketing. You know, on one side of the on the on the house, you've got the people who are about the brand experience and a brown brand awareness and a building a brand aura, and then you got people who are it's all about revenue, it's all about driving revenue and brand is less important. So how do you bounce it to as a as a marketing leader. How do you make sure that what you're doing at Grapevine six straddles both camps? Yeah, it's great question because a lot of people do think of it as this versus that scenario, and I really don't. I I think it's a pulse dichotomy really, this idea of brand marketing versus revenue marketing. As actually think when you do brand right, it drives revenue. It's like the rising tide that floats all boats. You know, brand is the tide that floats all your revenue at tricks. So I don't see it as this or that, you know, I see it as you've got to nail brand or else you are trapped forever in high volume, low quality, transactional sales and marketing and it's not a good place to be. So I...

...guess fundamentally, I say it's not one or the other. It's not even so much about the balance. It's about get brand really, really strong, such that it drives revenue. You know, what I find interesting is that right now people are very distracted, as you can imagine, they've got different priorities. They're probably doing a lot more with fewer resources and so it's tough to get their attention. And from where I come from, brand is important because brand makes an impact, brand makes a difference. So even if you've got a great product, you're going to struggle if you've got a weak brand. Do you see brands maybe having one one hand tied behind their backs because they've they're trying to they're trying to sell on the strength of their product, meanwhile they're being handicapped by the fact that their brand is not as strong? I do. I think they're. They're handicapped in many cases by senior leadership that has a very short time horizon. You know, they want they want to measure tangible outcomes from every piece of content. They want to know every activity you do, how many leads is that driving, how many mqls is that driving? And the result of that pressure coming down into the marketing organization is that you just say, all right, forget about anything that's not just a quick, transactional win. So we're not going to do that big rock content that's going to change people's mindsets and get people to see the world in a different way because it's going to take too long, it's too much of a lift. Let's just pound out a whole lot of little things and try to capture some email addresses and get a pat on the back. And we're not gonna write that book or we're not going to do that podcast or we're not going to do that series of videos because they're hard to gate. That...

...we got to gate everything. Everything's capture, a lead capture and MQL and you get this race to the bottom of crappy marketing. And and I don't blame the market RS, I blame those who set up the measurements and the expectations and the incentives that drive them to do that, drive them to to feel that that it's necessary. So yeah, I do think that a lot of marketers have one arm tied behind their back. Yeah, one of the things I wrote recently is that being a marketer is kind of like being the it's kind of like being a professional sports coach, is that you're hired to be fired. And I think right now, because of the focus on metrics and mqls, is that a lot of marketers they don't perform, then they're under the gun right away and there's so much pressure, I believe, on marketers because they're being assessed with us, with with a very focused lens, as opposed to all the other things that make a brand powerful, that drive your sales and marketing, which is about brand affinity and brand loyalty and building an army of advocates out there. And it's really unfair to a lot of marketers because, you know, it's a different set of rules and maybe they're not fair. More importantly, I mean fairness is important, but more importantly, let's face it, they don't drive the right outcomes for the business over time. They drive short term outcomes. I was in one role a number of years back where it was all about mqls. was like two hundred mqls a month or or will fire you and get someone else who will get us two hundred mquels a month. There's like, well, hang on a second. I mean these things were calling him to owls or our crap. I mean they're not turning into revenue. They're creating busy work for SDRs to harass these people and everybody feels like they're doing something because they're busy, but they're not actually driving revenue. Meanwhile, how about we do this over here? You know, we have opportunities to work on things that are going to save customers that are in jeopardy of churning and other things we can do to grow...

...advocacy and expand our share of wallet in some of our best customers. I mean that will that will put money in the bank as like, what part of MQLS aren't you understanding? Go get us mqls, and it was a really demoralizing situation to be in and it just drove a lot of low quality short term behavior. Okay, I guess we're doing content syndication because we can capture some mqls. I guess we're gating everything, even though we know ninety percent of people are going to bounce when they see that form. Wow, but we're going to get a few mqls out of it. So we have no choice. And we were doing the wrong things for the business, but we were doing the right things for the metrics that were hung around our necks. Yeah, that's what I find really interesting. Is this who I do of MQOLS and weather? In fact, mqls, and I see this a little bit tongue cheek, are relevant these days, or maybe they're an achronism, because when you think about it down on in an Ebook or sign up for Webinar or giving your email address so you can see a case study. It doesn't suggest that you're necessarily interested in a product. It means that maybe you want that Ebook, maybe you know you're curious about whether it's going to deliver some value. Maybe that Webinar is interesting, but you may or may not go. But as organizations, we look at him qls as gold. The more you get, the better you are, and it's almost made us it's almost distracted us in a sense, it's distracted us from the things the matter. What do you think the futures of the MQL and, as important, what do you think the futures of gated content? Whether in fact we should get content, kill the MQL and free your content. I mean seriously, if you're making quality content that really tells the story of Your Successful Customers, tells the story of your amazing products, really tells the story of how...

...you see the world differently and how you're making your clients world a better place, don't you want maximum number of people reading that and hearing that and watching that and sharing that? Why are we doing something that is cutting off ninety percent of our traffic and then we're pissing off the ten percent that fill out the gate. In most cases, it only makes sense to me if your content is garbage, if your content is an excuse to capture an email, if there's no real nutritional value to your content, well I guess you may as well get it and then play the numbers game of cadencing the hell out of people who are, you know, foolish enough to give you their email address and their phone number. But I'd really rather create amazing content that really inspires and really helps champions advocate and and really get maximum number of the right people reading that and not artificially restrict that through gating them. So, you know, let's let's create better content, let's promote it into the right industries and the right rolls through the right channels and let's measure our success on the consumption of that content because we know that it's really, really good. Yeah, it's a great point. In fact, it's ironic that I was I'm working with the client and we're doing account base marketing and I wanted to improve my knowledge get some more insight, so I did what you do, is I want on to Google and I search for ABM and I came across this content from this, I believe. They're a UK agency called alias partners, and their content is completely ungated and it is fantastic. It is probably some of the best content, best design content, best written content, that I've seen and it's sort of reminded me of the fact that content for the safe...

...of content is a waste of time. But if you can create content that delivers value, delivers insight, that provides perspective, then that's going to drive your sales and marketing forward, and so I'm curious to get your take on how your approaching content and how brands in general should approach content to to really embrace the whole notion of content marketing. I am doing my very best to walk the walk, or of what I'm talking about here. I've really trying to put into action exactly what I'm saying. Now I have the benefit of working in a sixty persons scale up where we are figuring out a lot of things as we go and we don't have a whole bunch of legacy metrics and expectations. We don't have a big team of SDRs to feed. We are very much an enterprise sales motion and we also have really superior product. I mean we have fantastic product and I've heard time and time again from our sales team that when we get in a serious head to head due diligence process, we win. The problem is it's hard to get there, and that says to me loud and clear there all right, we we need to get ourselves into the considerations set of all of the all of the deals and play in the industries that matter to us. But a tremendous number of those people in those roles, in those companies, in those industries don't know who we are. So we need to we need to create compelling content that is signal from the noise that disrupts their sleep walk into renewing with the incumbent, disrupts their sleep walk into looking at a couple of big brands and saying that they've done their job. We need to disrupt that sleep walk and make damn sure that we are in their consideration set. So I'm not trying to capture email addresses...

...and MQL's, I'm trying to change the way our core industries see their world and see their options and recognize that there is a really strong contender here that they don't know about. So I want to create the best possible content and I want to get it into the hands and into the minds and into the hearts of the people we need it to so I'm not going to gate it or do other things that's going to cut down my ability to do that. But here's the question, though, and here's the and here's the is is the tough questions. Everybody says that. Everybody says that I'm going to create high quality, high value content, and believe me, I'm an advocate for all that kind of thing. But how do you actually do it? How do you create content that makes an impact? Because there's a there's so much content these days and there's a lot of good content, there's a lot of, like, an awful lot of crappy content. So walk me through how you would put together content that's going to resonate with the people that matter to you. I think the key is you need to lead to your product, not lead with your product, and and to me the litmus test of where their content is any good is whether it's actually valuable to someone, even if they choose not to buy your product. You look at engage, you and demand base and terminus and others. They create content that is educating a generation of beab marketers about account based marketing, about how to flip the funnel and think differently about their entire go to market motion and whether they ever buy that product or not, they are better for having read that content, attended that Webinarre, listen to that podcast. That is quality content. That's the kind of content you share with your peers. That's the kind of content you go back and you start binge consuming multiple things they do and then when you move into a buying motion, they are a hundred percent in your consideration set.

How could they not be? You know they like I'm not saying you're going to immediately buy them, but they're in your top two or three or four for sure, and that's a huge part of the battle. So I think we're marketers go wrong. So, Oh yeah, we're going to create great content. And then you look at what they actually created and it's just a sales pitch with a thin veneer of value. And if you strip out the by our product aspect of it, there's nothing left. There's there's fumes. All right. So so does the content have real value, even if they don't shop with you. That's the litmus test. I've been there, done that, and I've been in situations where senior executives have said we're going to do an ebook and it's a sales brochure, and that's a killer for a marketer and a storyteller like me. That's a sales that's a killer because you're so deflated you go what's that's not about the customer, it's about you. We've got a few minutes left because I promise people that I would. I would keep this to fifteen minutes or less. One of the things that I'm and I think this is one of the reasons we reconnected, is that you in the as the pandemic, this global pandemic, became front center and everyone's lives, you got a new job and it was like, hold on a second. You become a VP marketing at grapevine six in, was it march or April, when everyone else is sort of losing their jobs and you're stepping up and getting a new job, telling about that journey and what it's been like to be a new employee, when I suspect you're never going to the office or you've ever been to the office. Haven't been there yet. Yeah, started in April. There's this whole cohort of people out there and I'm one of them who on boarded into a new company entirely remotely, in in the midst of a pandemic, and I think we're kindred spirits and many ways. And it's been it's been challenging and it's been fun and it's been it's been great in some ways. And I look at so many of my co workers who I feel this really strong bond with and I feel like I know...

...them really well and I sebaka reflecting. Yeah, I've never met that person and I've never met with the money and it's so weird for me to realize that the great majority of my colleagues, who I work with every day and you know I will, I will consider friends forever, I've never met them. So, yeah, it's been really interesting in that regard. But I mean it sure has proved that. I mean I think tech companies, buy and large, were pretty good at work from home, work remote. We all traveled a lot. We all worked from hotels and conference lobbies and airports and Ubers and everything anyway. So I don't think it's been a huge stretch for a lot of tech companies that. I think it's really cool how a lot of companies in other industries that we're quite convinced that they couldn't work remotely have learned that. You know, with with necessity comes, what is it? Necessities, the mother of invention. And then turned and here they are absolutely working remotely, in a lot of cases more productively and more successfully than ever before. So it's been a really it's been a really interesting time. I mean, I'm loving the ride, I'm loving the opportunity great find. Six is a extremely high potential organization with amazing big brands as clients and tongue of white space yet to conquer and and really strong product and amazing people and Amazing Passion for what we do and who we do it for. So I consider myself extremely luck. Let me ask you the most difficult question of this entire podcast. I've gotta answer really quickly. Here we go, explain to me and very simple terms, what grape fine six does. That's the test, you know, that's what we've we've all got to get better at, including me, and that's actually been a big focus of my time. There is distilling down to the real core message, I mean at the heart of it. We are a enterprise social engagement platform. We help people engage effectively and confidently on social media, on Linkedin, facebook and twitter in particular,...

...and we focus on regulated industries like wealth management and banking and insurance, where that's really hard. They don't on one hand they want to empower their people to leverage social media to build their personal brands, build the corporate brand and grow their book a business, but two things hold them back. A lack of content, a lack of knowing what to share and what to talk about, is one thing, and compliance is the other thing. There are so many regulatory hurdles and fears, legitimate fears, about falling on the wrong side of regulatory compliance, and we solve for both of those. The right content to share and done in a compliant way, and it enables large banks and wealth managers and insurance companies and others to activate their people in social media, which can be really transformative for the organization. That was terrifix eve. You know, really appreciate your insight. We covered a lot of ground and a relatively short period of time. This is an amazing marketing landscape right now. It's terrifying and exciting at the same time. It's great to have you on marketing spark. Your energy and your enthusiasm is palpable and I'm sure you're going to be doing some amazing things a great, fine six thanks for listening to another episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, please leave a review, as well as subscribe by Itunes or your favorite podcast APP. If you have questions feedback, would like to suggest a guest or you're looking for help with BEDB marketing, send an email to mark and Mark Evans Dots A. See you next time.

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