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 podcastthat 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 lesswith 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 frommessaging and strategy to ABM. Steve is currently VP marketing with grapevine six.Welcome to marketing sparks, Steve. Thrilled to be here. Mark, thanksfor having me on the show. One of the things that you've been writinga lot about on linked recently, linked in recently, and that I've beencommenting on your on your on your post, is the balancing act, or theYin 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 thepeople who are about the brand experience and a brown brand awareness and a buildinga 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 doyou bounce it to as a as a marketing leader. How do you makesure that what you're doing at Grapevine six straddles both camps? Yeah, it'sgreat question because a lot of people do think of it as this versus thatscenario, 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 youdo brand right, it drives revenue. It's like the rising tide that floatsall boats. You know, brand is the tide that floats all your revenueat 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 trappedforever in high volume, low quality, transactional sales and marketing and it's nota good place to be. So I...

...guess fundamentally, I say it's notone or the other. It's not even so much about the balance. It'sabout get brand really, really strong, such that it drives revenue. Youknow, 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 lotmore with fewer resources and so it's tough to get their attention. And fromwhere I come from, brand is important because brand makes an impact, brandmakes a difference. So even if you've got a great product, you're goingto struggle if you've got a weak brand. Do you see brands maybe having oneone hand tied behind their backs because they've they're trying to they're trying tosell on the strength of their product, meanwhile they're being handicapped by the factthat 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 pieceof content. They want to know every activity you do, how many leadsis that driving, how many mqls is that driving? And the result ofthat pressure coming down into the marketing organization is that you just say, allright, forget about anything that's not just a quick, transactional win. Sowe're not going to do that big rock content that's going to change people's mindsetsand get people to see the world in a different way because it's going totake too long, it's too much of a lift. Let's just pound outa whole lot of little things and try to capture some email addresses and geta pat on the back. And we're not gonna write that book or we'renot going to do that podcast or we're not going to do that series ofvideos because they're hard to gate. That...

...we got to gate everything. Everything'scapture, a lead capture and MQL and you get this race to the bottomof crappy marketing. And and I don't blame the market RS, I blamethose who set up the measurements and the expectations and the incentives that drive themto do that, drive them to to feel that that it's necessary. Soyeah, I do think that a lot of marketers have one arm tied behindtheir back. Yeah, one of the things I wrote recently is that beinga marketer is kind of like being the it's kind of like being a professionalsports coach, is that you're hired to be fired. And I think rightnow, because of the focus on metrics and mqls, is that a lotof marketers they don't perform, then they're under the gun right away and there'sso 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 thingsthat make a brand powerful, that drive your sales and marketing, which isabout 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'sa different set of rules and maybe they're not fair. More importantly, Imean fairness is important, but more importantly, let's face it, they don't drivethe 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 allabout mqls. was like two hundred mqls a month or or will fire youand get someone else who will get us two hundred mquels a month. There'slike, well, hang on a second. I mean these things were calling himto 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'redoing 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 towork on things that are going to save customers that are in jeopardy of churningand other things we can do to grow...

...advocacy and expand our share of walletin some of our best customers. I mean that will that will put moneyin the bank as like, what part of MQLS aren't you understanding? Goget us mqls, and it was a really demoralizing situation to be in andit just drove a lot of low quality short term behavior. Okay, Iguess we're doing content syndication because we can capture some mqls. I guess we'regating everything, even though we know ninety percent of people are going to bouncewhen they see that form. Wow, but we're going to get a fewmqls out of it. So we have no choice. And we were doingthe wrong things for the business, but we were doing the right things forthe metrics that were hung around our necks. Yeah, that's what I find reallyinteresting. Is this who I do of MQOLS and weather? In fact, mqls, and I see this a little bit tongue cheek, are relevantthese days, or maybe they're an achronism, because when you think about it downon in an Ebook or sign up for Webinar or giving your email addressso you can see a case study. It doesn't suggest that you're necessarily interestedin a product. It means that maybe you want that Ebook, maybe youknow you're curious about whether it's going to deliver some value. Maybe that Webinaris interesting, but you may or may not go. But as organizations,we look at him qls as gold. The more you get, the betteryou 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 thefutures of the MQL and, as important, what do you think the futures ofgated content? Whether in fact we should get content, kill the MQLand free your content. I mean seriously, if you're making quality content that reallytells 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 howyou're making your clients world a better place, don't you want maximum number of peoplereading that and hearing that and watching that and sharing that? Why arewe doing something that is cutting off ninety percent of our traffic and then we'repissing 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 contentis an excuse to capture an email, if there's no real nutritional value toyour content, well I guess you may as well get it and then playthe 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. ButI'd really rather create amazing content that really inspires and really helps champions advocate andand really get maximum number of the right people reading that and not artificially restrictthat 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 rightchannels and let's measure our success on the consumption of that content because we knowthat 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 doingaccount 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 Isearch 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 andit is fantastic. It is probably some of the best content, best designcontent, best written content, that I've seen and it's sort of reminded meof 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, thatprovides perspective, then that's going to drive your sales and marketing forward, andso I'm curious to get your take on how your approaching content and how brandsin 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 whatI'm talking about here. I've really trying to put into action exactly what I'msaying. Now I have the benefit of working in a sixty persons scale upwhere we are figuring out a lot of things as we go and we don'thave a whole bunch of legacy metrics and expectations. We don't have a bigteam of SDRs to feed. We are very much an enterprise sales motion andwe also have really superior product. I mean we have fantastic product and I'veheard time and time again from our sales team that when we get in aserious head to head due diligence process, we win. The problem is it'shard to get there, and that says to me loud and clear there allright, we we need to get ourselves into the considerations set of all ofthe 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 tocreate compelling content that is signal from the noise that disrupts their sleep walkinto renewing with the incumbent, disrupts their sleep walk into looking at a coupleof big brands and saying that they've done their job. We need to disruptthat 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 changethe way our core industries see their world and see their options and recognize thatthere is a really strong contender here that they don't know about. So Iwant to create the best possible content and I want to get it into thehands and into the minds and into the hearts of the people we need itto so I'm not going to gate it or do other things that's going tocut 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. Buthow do you actually do it? How do you create content that makes animpact? Because there's a there's so much content these days and there's a lotof good content, there's a lot of, like, an awful lot of crappycontent. So walk me through how you would put together content that's goingto resonate with the people that matter to you. I think the key isyou need to lead to your product, not lead with your product, andand to me the litmus test of where their content is any good is whetherit'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 tomarket motion and whether they ever buy that product or not, they are betterfor 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 multiplethings they do and then when you move into a buying motion, they area hundred percent in your consideration set.

How could they not be? Youknow they like I'm not saying you're going to immediately buy them, but they'rein your top two or three or four for sure, and that's a hugepart 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 atwhat they actually created and it's just a sales pitch with a thin veneer ofvalue. 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 thecontent have real value, even if they don't shop with you. That's thelitmus test. I've been there, done that, and I've been in situationswhere senior executives have said we're going to do an ebook and it's a salesbrochure, 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 notabout the customer, it's about you. We've got a few minutes left becauseI promise people that I would. I would keep this to fifteen minutes orless. One of the things that I'm and I think this is one ofthe reasons we reconnected, is that you in the as the pandemic, thisglobal pandemic, became front center and everyone's lives, you got a new joband it was like, hold on a second. You become a VP marketingat grapevine six in, was it march or April, when everyone else issort 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 theoffice. Haven't been there yet. Yeah, started in April. There's this wholecohort of people out there and I'm one of them who on boarded intoa new company entirely remotely, in in the midst of a pandemic, andI think we're kindred spirits and many ways. And it's been it's been challenging andit's been fun and it's been it's been great in some ways. AndI look at so many of my co workers who I feel this really strongbond 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 moneyand 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 willconsider friends forever, I've never met them. So, yeah, it's been reallyinteresting in that regard. But I mean it sure has proved that.I mean I think tech companies, buy and large, were pretty good atwork from home, work remote. We all traveled a lot. We allworked from hotels and conference lobbies and airports and Ubers and everything anyway. SoI 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 thatwe'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 lotof cases more productively and more successfully than ever before. So it's been areally 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 organizationwith amazing big brands as clients and tongue of white space yet to conquer andand really strong product and amazing people and Amazing Passion for what we do andwho we do it for. So I consider myself extremely luck. Let meask you the most difficult question of this entire podcast. I've gotta answer reallyquickly. Here we go, explain to me and very simple terms, whatgrape fine six does. That's the test, you know, that's what we've we'veall got to get better at, including me, and that's actually beena big focus of my time. There is distilling down to the real coremessage, I mean at the heart of it. We are a enterprise socialengagement platform. We help people engage effectively and confidently on social media, onLinkedin, facebook and twitter in particular,...

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

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