page title icon Agile Marketing: How to Achieve Business Agility During Uncertain Times

B2B Digital Marketer
B2B Digital Marketer
Agile Marketing: How to Achieve Business Agility During Uncertain Times
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We are living in uncertain times. Yearly plans become too rigid and resistant to change. Marketers need to be quick, nimble, and adaptable, and agile marketing helps you do that.

Marketers love to make plans. It’s essential in almost any endeavor. But no matter how much we try to plan our activities, there is simply no escaping the unexpected and inevitable. From the beginning of last year, marketers seem to have made well-laid-out plans for the upcoming year. Little did they know that the pandemic would hit and their plans would be thrown out of the window. The answer: agile marketing.

Agile marketing is an approach to marketing that takes its inspiration from the software development agile methodology. It takes a little bit of a different approach – things like adapting to change over following a plan. It’s about iteration over campaigns.

Marketers do all kinds of activities in big campaigns, and sometimes they cost a lot of money without seeing a lot of results. You have to test it out first and find valuable data before you spend a huge amount of money. If you need to track your digital activity ROI, here’s a tool to help you do that: What is Your Digital Activity ROI? – Understanding Return On Investment (b2bdm.com)

During uncertain times, your business needs to be quick, nimble, and adaptable, and marketing is no exemption. You have to be agile.

Jim Ewel began his journey with Agile Marketing in 2010 and is one of the leading bloggers on the topic (www.agilemarketing.net). He is the author of the essential guide to implementation, The Six Disciplines of Agile Marketing.

He was the co-organizer of the first gathering of Agile Marketers, called SprintZero, in June of 2012, and is one of the authors of the Agile Marketing Manifesto.

He is frequently asked to speak on the topic of Agile Marketing at industry conferences, and he has helped companies as diverse as T-Mobile, Salesforce, Best Buy Canada, SpaceSaver, Great Dane Trailers, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, and Zenprise learn about and adopt Agile Marketing.

Jim is also an accomplished CEO and marketing executive. He spent 12 years at Microsoft, where he was VP of Server Marketing, working on products such as Windows NT Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and Windows 2000. He has also run emerging and very high-growth mid-market companies such as InDemand Interpreting (sold to Stratus Video), Adometry (sold to Google), and GoAhead Software (sold to Oracle).

Ewel completed his B.A., with honors, at Furman University, and continued to graduate work at The University of Pennsylvania. He has also been an adjunct professor at The University of Washington. He resides in a suburb of Seattle with his wife and is the parent of five children. He enjoys travel, photography and cooking.

Podcast Timestamps/Outline

00:55 – Introduction

01:23 – About Jim Ewel and his background in Agile Marketing

03:06 – What is Agile Marketing?

04:53 – Can solopreneurs benefit from agile marketing?

08:39 – Moving from campaigns to continuous improvement

10:02 – What is a marketer’s biggest Achilles heel?

15:33 – What does a B2B digital marketer need to be asking themselves today?

20:00 – What marketers need to stop doing

22:30 – The shift of balance between marketing and sales

24:45 – What is your digital activity ROI?

26:57 – Budget reallocation

29:27 – What is currently overrated with B2B digital marketing?

34:37 – “Hacking” marketing

35:27 – How does a B2B Digital Marketer become a disruptor?

37:39 – Fail in small ways

41:39 – Connect with Jim Ewel

Memorable Quotes

“Agile marketing is a relentless focus on the customer and the customer experience.”

“Don’t huddle in a room and figure out we’re going to spend all this money on this big campaign without any data about how the campaign is going to be received. Instead, get a little idea, go out there and test that idea with some real customers, and get the data about how it’s received before you start spending the big bucks.”

“The world changes, and you’ve got to realize and pick up on those changes as soon as they happen. If you can pick up on the changes as soon as they happen, you’re going to be ahead of 90% of the other marketers out there.”

“It’s not about the number of sales qualified leads. It’s about the revenue that you’re contributing.”

“You’re not in control anymore, the customer’s in control. You got to help that customer make a better decision and do that more quickly. That should be your focus, not on SQLs”

“You need to fail regularly. You need to fail often. If you’re not failing, you’re not taking enough chances. You’re not doing enough things that are different from other people.”

Episode Links and Resources

Agile Marketing website: https://www.agilemarketing.net/

Jim’s book: The Six Disciplines of Agile Marketing

Jim Ewel’s email: [email protected]

Jim Ewel’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimewel/

Digital activity ROI assessment: https://b2bdm.com/digital-activity-roi/

Get your FREE Guide to Agile Marketing: https://www.agilemarketing.net/subscribe/

More episodes on the future of B2B digital marketing: https://b2bdm.com/social-audio/

Episode Transcript

Click to access unedited transcript

Unedited Transcript

Jim Rembach (00:00):
Okay. B2B DM gang. I am excited today because I have already had a great conversation and we’re going to make sure that we pull it onto this particular episode. Cause I have Jim Ewel with me who is the Titan of agile marketing.
Jim Ewel (00:12):
Thank you, Jim. I’m excited too, man. I got some energy today. Okay.
Jim Rembach (00:16):
I’m telling you. So if you could, Jim, tell us a little bit about your background and your experience before we get into some meaty content talking about your book, you know, the six disciplines of agile marketing and what we need to do differently today.
Jim Ewel (00:28):
Yeah, well, I’ve been doing marketing for a long time now, about 30 years. And uh, I started out, uh, Microsoft, uh, spent 12 years there, uh, doing a bunch of different things, uh, working on early versions of windows and then a product called SQL server database product. And then I was vice-president of all of the server products, uh, for my last couple of years there. Um, I left Microsoft in 2001, uh, and uh, I got involved in the startup world here in Seattle and I did three startups here, uh, really had a good time and a good ride, uh, doing that. Uh, we took one of them from 30 people to 300 people. And I learned a lot about, uh, you know, how do you scale those kinds of organizations and how do you differentiate yourself when you’re small and you’re going up against big players, you know, things like that. So, um, for the last 10 years I have been, you know, the flag bearer for applying agile into marketing. Agile has been around since 2001 in software development. It’s incredibly successful there over 90% of organizations who develop software, apply agile to software development. Uh, but it’s just starting to take off in marketing. Uh, and I’ve been, you know, pushing it and carrying that, that, uh, carrying the water for that for a long time now. So that’s, that’s kinda my background.
Jim Rembach (01:46):
Well, okay. So that is very helpful, you know, because a lot of folks who may not have bad exposure to the tech world may not understand how that connection exists. So thank you for sharing that. Yeah. And so for many of us who are digital marketers, um, and marketers in general may not be aware of what agile marketing is. So if you could please tell us what is agile marketing?
Jim Ewel (02:11):
Yeah. So agile marketing is an approach to marketing that takes its inspiration from that software development, agile marketing. Okay. Um, but it, it takes a little bit of a different approach. Okay. So it’s things like adapting to change over following a plan. Okay. It’s about iteration over campaigns rather than do a big campaign and sort of what I call a one and done campaign where you’re, you know, you’re running the campaign and then you come back with the data and you declare victory. That campaign was great, but you go on to the next campaign, agile marketers, they do things in terms of a little idea that they try to see, how can we test this idea? We test it, we get the data and then we improve upon it. And we’re doing that iteration before we spend the big dollars on, on the campaign. Okay.
Jim Ewel (03:07):
It’s a relentless focus on the customer. Okay. And the customer experience to what I talked about earlier, that’s, you know, a real part of agile. Okay. And it does use some of the processes that the software developers use, but adapted for marketing. Because one of the things that I hear from marketers all the time is that we don’t have enough resources. Right. And when you don’t have enough resources, the thing you have to do is prioritize and agile gives you a way to do that. A way to think about how you prioritize things and how you get things done. So it’s, it’s a way of getting things done.
Jim Rembach (03:43):
Well, as you’re talking, I may start thinking that, well, this isn’t relevant to me because I’m not a marketing team. You know, I don’t have that. And I think it’s important to note that there’s there’s, even if I’m a solo, I could benefit from agile marketing campaign. Yeah,
Jim Ewel (03:58):
Absolutely. I just got through teaching a class to, uh, credit unions nationwide. Okay. And many credit unions are small and they have one marketing person. Okay. I would say half the audience. So that class was singletons, you know, PR people who are they’re there yet, as far as the marketing organization and they still have to prioritize, they still have to tell somebody, you know, here’s where the work is. They still need to, instead of running these big campaigns, do some iteration and figure out what works and what doesn’t. So all of those things still apply. And all the techniques that I teach in there will apply. Now, there are some things that won’t okay. Like my second discipline is how do you structure the marketing team, right. That, that obviously doesn’t apply if you’re a Singleton. So skip that chapter and go on to the next thing. And that’s okay.
Jim Rembach (04:50):
I, you know, I would actually add it may, it may be a scenario where maybe I’m not making a structure, but maybe it gives me an understanding, you know, that there are different disciplines and you know, these, this could be other people because I, even though you talked about the credit unions example, um, I am even thinking about it from a perspective of being an entrepreneur and I’m a solopreneur and I still need to understand that there’s different disciplines. Cause I hear this all the time. For example, people will say, you know, well, Hey, I’m a digital marketer too. And I’m like, okay, I understand. But you know, this is what I do. I’m a growth specialist. Right. That’s right. There’s a difference. So what is, what is your specialty, right? Yeah.
Jim Ewel (05:29):
So the other thing is that even if you’re a Singleton, you probably use some outside resources to get stuff done that, that you can’t. Okay. And how do you coordinate with them? How do you figure out, okay, the work is going to depend on them, getting things done in a timely way and how do I track that and how do I, you know, work all that into my process. Okay. So sometimes you’re a virtual organization, right? You have people who are not part of your organization, not part of your team, but you need to kind of manage the whole thing. And that’s something that you can do. And we talk a little bit about that
Jim Rembach (06:04):
In the book, and that is a vital scaling scenario. So you, because regardless of what you’re attempting to do, if you’re focusing in, on, on growth as a primary objective and outcome, at some point you’re going to come to the realization that you cannot do it all yourself. It’s just not the way that it works. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So when I start thinking about, um, agile marketing and in the book, you know, you talk about, you know, the six disciplines that are necessary. So I mean, for me, I’m asking myself and I’m sure listeners and Watchers ours are like, what are the six disciplines of agile marketing? And I’ll read those real quick. Um, you have alignment, alignment, structure, process management, validated learning, adapting to change, and then creating remarkable customer experiences, which we talked about. And then you said also in the book that in order for individuals or organizations, to be able to take advantage of agile marketing, there’s four shifts that need to occur.
Jim Rembach (07:06):
Right? So again, it’s like, what are the four shifts that marketers need to do, um, in order to be successful? Uh, and if they need to move from outputs to outcomes, they need to move from campaigns to continuous improvement. I want to talk a little bit about that a little bit more. Um, and then we need to move from internally focused to being customer focused. Yeah. And then we need to move from top down decisions to the centralized decisions. So let’s go back to the campaigns to continuous improvement because when you were talking about that, somebody could get the pressure impression to say that don’t run any campaigns anymore. I don’t think you’re really saying that. Right.
Jim Ewel (07:44):
I’m not saying that what I’m saying is don’t huddle in a room and figure out we’re going to spend all this money on this big campaign without any data about how the campaign is going to be received. Okay. Instead, you know, get a little idea. Okay. Go out there and test that idea with some real customers and get the data about how it’s received before you start spending the big bucks. Okay. And once you do that first little test, then optimize it. Okay. You want to make sure that you optimize things before you spend a lot of money on it. Okay. So that’s really what I’m saying. I’m not saying you don’t run campaigns. Of course you run campaigns. Those are part of what we do as marketers. Okay. But you don’t do it just based on lots of internal meetings about what we think the customer wants. Okay. We need to know for sure that that’s one of the reasons why I call it validated learning. Right. I mean, it’s, it’s not about what we think the customer knows it’s about what we can validate that the customer is actually going to do. It’s all based on customer behavior, not on what we think about the customer. Okay. And as you’re that I have to
Jim Rembach (08:56):
Think, and I would love to get your insights and experience on it. And when I think about what is a marketer’s biggest Achilles heel, or what is a marketer’s biggest fear or risk, and to me, it’s that.
Jim Ewel (09:08):
Yeah. I mean, it is it’s, it’s like that old saying that I think it’s attributed to Mark Twain, although there’s no evidence that he ever said it, it’s not the stuff that we don’t know that gets us into, into trouble. It’s just stuff that we know for sure. That just isn’t true. That gets us into trouble. And I think that is the, the marketer’s Achilles’ heel is that they, they, I just know our customers are this, you know, whatever it is. Okay. And then that turns out not to be true. Okay. And so you’re sitting there pushing, pushing, you know, this sort of thing, and customers are saying, ah, that’s not, that’s not it for me. You know?
Jim Rembach (09:41):
And I think it’s important to know too, because here’s, here’s what I often find is I may have done some validation, done, some testing and I lay, lay it out. And then I have some executive with power that says, Oh no, no, that’s not the way we should do it. And then, so essentially talking about Achilles heel, they just sliced mine. Um, and then, so therefore it’s not going to have the effectiveness that it could have had otherwise I’ve got to do it anyway.
Jim Ewel (10:09):
Yeah. I tell a story in the book about an example of that very thing. Okay. Um, where a guy, Oh God, I forget his name right now. Okay. Uh, Oh, uh, I’ve got the book right here. Let me just grab this thing. Okay. So I gotta, I gotta hold this up. Sarah, Joseph Simon, you can’t see with my background here, Sarah geo Simon, the end of marketing. As we know it, it’s a book from the nineties. I think it’s a long time ago, but he was the first chief marketing officer. I mean, literally the guy first guy to have that title. Okay. And he was chief marketing officer of Coca-Cola and he tells a story in the book about how he went into the new CEO guy by the name of Roberto wise Weisman. I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing that right. But anyways, really a legendary CEO at Coca-Cola.
Jim Ewel (10:58):
And he showed him the ads that they were currently running. And Roberto said, I don’t like him. And Sarah geo said, respectfully, I don’t care if you like them. Okay. Because unless you’re going to buy a billion dollars with a Coke this quarter, I’m not selling to you. Okay. I’m selling to these kids who like the Coke and all that sort of stuff. Let me show you the data that shows when we run these ads and these, you know, particular, uh, uh, areas of the country, how it’s improving our market share against Pepsi. Okay. And to Roberto’s credit, he said, okay, from now on don’t show me the ads, just show me the data. Okay. And, and that’s a good CEO. That’s what you want. Okay. It’s not that they can’t be part of the decision, but they need to do that based on data, just like the rest of us do instinct. How many times have you run an ad and you think, you know, you do an AB comparison. And I think I know who’s is going to win. And B I get surprised not all the time, but I’d say, you know, 30, 40% of the time I get surprised. Okay. I don’t want to miss those opportunities. I want to test those things.
Jim Rembach (12:03):
I think that’s vitally important because we’re talking about intuition, gut bias. And that’s another thing that could be a marketer’s Achilles’ is because it’s that differentiating point. So even if you say, gosh, I’ve been doing this for an extremely long time, and I’ve done all these, these tests and I have this previous data and you know what, we can just let this one run. It’s it’s that little difference of just a few percentage points that could mean the difference between being viral. Right. And just being okay. Yeah,
Jim Ewel (12:33):
That’s right. And, and the other thing about experiences. Okay. I have the experience of, you know, all these years that I’ve done marketing, but you know, the world’s changed, you know, and, and my experience may not be current. Okay. That’s, that’s another reason to always be testing. Okay. Is that the world changes. Okay. And you, and you’ve got to realize and, and pick up on those changes as soon as they happen. Okay. If you can, if you can do that, if you can pick up on the changes, as soon as they happen, you’re going to be ahead of 90% of the other marketers out there.
Jim Rembach (13:06):
Right. So I think I’m talking about the being agile and having the agility to spot it, test it, run it. Yep. That’s right. Okay. So, you know, you bring up a really good point. Cause I was just doing some calculations on a case study that I, I want it didn’t end up being a case study. It turned into one because what happened, uh, on LinkedIn, where I was doing some content marketing and I experienced a, uh, you know, I got the number here, 726.9, 3% improvement on, on my marketing or on my content engagement on LinkedIn because of, uh, what I had done. And I’m like that. I mean, I used to be able to do that with, you know, a few years ago when there wasn’t as many people that were doing digital marketing, digital marketing to get that. Now I’m like, I’m shocked. Yeah. I’ll have to go run the numbers again.
Jim Ewel (14:00):
Well, and the thing is, whatever you did differently, you probably expected to get some kind of improvement, but I bet you didn’t expect to get 726%.
Jim Rembach (14:09):
No, that’s all right. Not even close.
Jim Ewel (14:12):
Nope. Not even close. And so that’s, that’s when the magic happens is when you do those kinds
Jim Rembach (14:18):
Of things. So that’s why I have to go test my numbers again.
Jim Ewel (14:21):
There you go. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Absolutely. I love it. That’s the thing.
Jim Rembach (14:25):
Okay. So, uh, that leads me to, and we’ve kind of hit on these a little bit, but I think we need to be a little bit more succinct because you know, what should, or what does a, B to B digital marketer need to be asking themselves today?
Jim Ewel (14:38):
Yeah. So I got to say the first question, which is about agile. Okay. Uh, so last year is actually kind of a watershed year for agile applied to marketing. Okay. I mean, you know, people in February say in January of 2020, okay. They wrote their marketing plans for the year. Right. Then came COVID and whoops, that’s out the window. Right. And so a lot of people, well, it started saying to themselves, look, I’ve heard about this agile thing for years, but I haven’t done anything about it. Maybe this is the time to do it. Okay. I’ve seen some really interesting, uh, statistics on this one organization, just fresh data said that 85% of marketers are looking at converting to agile as their way of managing marketing in the next 12 to 24 months. Okay. 85%. Um, there’s another study. That’s about to come out. I haven’t seen the data yet.
Jim Ewel (15:34):
I know it’s finished. There’s still be the fourth annual survey of agile marketers. Okay. Last year it was right around 40, 42%. If I remember correctly of marketers who were applying agile, I expect this year, it’s going to be over 50%. At least I’m hoping it will be. And that’s kind of a watershed percentage, you know, of people who are doing it. So I think you need to ask it’s yourself. If you’re a B2B marketer, what’s your strategy regards to agile, right. If you’re already adopting it, then you need to say to yourself, am I just doing agile? And by that, I mean, you’re holding standups and you’re applying Kanban boards and that sort of stuff. Or am I being agile? What I mean by being agile, are those things that we talked about with the shifts, right. Am I focused on outcomes over outputs?
Jim Ewel (16:23):
Okay. Am I really doing continuous improvement over just running campaigns? Right. Am I really customer focused? Okay. And our decisions in our organization decentralized. So you’ve got to ask yourself, you know, how am I doing that if you’re already practicing, right. If you’re not practicing agile yet, ask yourself, well, why not? And what’s our plan, you know, do we have a plan to get to agile in the next 12 to 24 months? So I think that’s, that’s an important question. Um, a second question that I think is really important for people today is B2B marketers in particular, is, are they getting the most out of their account-based marketing strategy? Okay. A lot of people are doing ABM, but are they doing ABM? Right? Are they getting the right things out of it? Okay. One of the things that I don’t see enough people doing an ABM is focusing on their existing customer base.
Jim Ewel (17:16):
Right? Those are your best customers. You know, you can grow that existing customer, you know, and double them. That’s his good is bringing in a new customer of the same size. Right. So there’s a lot of things that they need to be doing there. And then the third thing, third question, I think you have to ask themselves is what is their strategy regarding AI? Right. For many years, I thought AI was, you know, just a buzz thing. Right. I don’t think it is anymore. I’m seeing some real, you know, applications of that. Right. Uh, we’ve talked about credit unions earlier. Uh, my local credit union, the one that I bank at data project using AI, where they customize the mails that went to all of their members. Okay. And they say, they went from like 17 emails a month on average that were not customized to two very targeted emails. Okay. The result is like a 10, a 10% improvement in their loans, loan, loan volume, which for a big credit unit, that’s a big deal. Okay. To do that. So, so I think people have to think about their AI strategy. That that’s something I’d be. Yeah.
Jim Rembach (18:28):
Well, I think those are really great points and I just want to make sure to all listeners and washers are aware that we are covering on the B2B digital marketer, AI for content and, um, being able to create content that’s going to be more effective and rank better. Um, we’re going to be doing that. We’re also focusing in on something that you had talked about, which I call, um, you know, our digital activity, ROI, uh, you know, w what are we getting from a value perspective? Uh, because that also, um, ultimately leads me into a question that we must answer is, you know, what do marketers need to stop doing?
Jim Ewel (19:06):
Yeah. I, one of the things that I see is they need to stop focusing on leads as much as they do, and that may sound kind of heretical. Okay. But I get so many people they’re focused on how many SQLs am I delivering? Right. Classic B2B thing. Look, it’s not about the number of SQLs. It’s about the revenue that you’re contributing. Okay. So if I get just three SQLs and they generate this much revenue, I adds better than having hundreds that don’t generate. So it’s quality, but it’s also the pace at which that revenue comes in. Okay. And understanding how I think today for B2B marketers, it’s all about helping businesses make those decisions. They’re in the driver’s seat today. It’s shifted. Okay. The, the, the, it, you’re not in control anymore. The customer’s in control. That’s just a fact of life. Okay. And so you got to help that customer make a better decision and, and do that more quickly. Okay. And, and, and that should be your focus, not on, not on SQL.
Jim Rembach (20:16):
Yeah. And so there was a statistic and I actually, it wasn’t in the report, but I was able to take the data from the report, uh, and be able to calculate that there was 130% increase, um, and the search phase in a B2B buyer’s journey. So think about that. I, myself, um, in a, in a different passion, uh, have a, uh, uh, it’s a leadership development system and platform, uh, for customer service, frontline leaders, it’s called call center coach. Um, and in call center coach, um, uh, we, you know, we really focus in on the entire blended learning process, uh, and, and being able to look at that whole transformation is critically important. Uh, and we, we use, you know, a whole lot of different things associated with content or those people who are trying to obtain and not. So here’s what happened to me. One time lady calls me up and she says, um, okay, we’ve done all of our due diligence. And we’ve looked at all of our different options and we have 20 supervisors that we want to enroll in your program. And I stopped there for a second. I said, who are you
Jim Ewel (21:26):
Exactly, exactly.
Jim Rembach (21:28):
She made they, their company, this is committee made a purchase decision without me being involved at all.
Jim Ewel (21:35):
Absolutely. So I have a statistic for you Gardner put up the statistics several years ago that on average, okay. Your, your, your example wasn’t average, but on average buyers are two thirds of the way through the buying decision before they ever contact anybody at the organization. Right. So in your case, they were 99% of the way through, okay. Before they contacted you. So, you know, that’s on the tail of the average, but what that does, because this is really important for marketers to understand, is it shifts the balance between marketing and sales, right? Because now marketing has to carry the water for two thirds, at least of the buying process. And that means marketing needs to be doing some things that sales used to do. Okay. And they need to make sure that they are helping buyers get through to that buying process as far as they can to get those things to sales.
Jim Rembach (22:33):
So I’m glad you said that I actually offended somebody in sales, because what I said was my objective as a digital marketer, a B2B digital marketer today is to, because of all these statistics and the way that the market has changed is to make it to where it becomes a scenario where the sales group is taking an order. They’re like, we’re not order takers.
Jim Ewel (22:56):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, no, but they’re not okay. There’s still that critical third. And, you know, a lot can happen to screw up the sale in that last critical third. So they are absolutely critical. But one of the things that has to happen is there has to be better integration between marketing and sales. You know, if you’re doing something where you’re just tossing SQLs over the wall, you’re doing the wrong thing. Okay. You’ve got to be in there with sales and absolutely working with them for that last third. Okay. You need to be providing them the sales tools. I mean, part of that’s part of what ABM is about, right. Is really working closely with the salespeople to close those larger accounts. So, um, uh, sales is still critical. They’re not just order takers, but can’t just hand things over the wall. They got to be integrated with sales for that last third.
Jim Rembach (23:50):
And that’s part of what we put together in the digital activity assessment. We did. It’s a very short, quick assessment that we put together based off of all this data, it’s post COVID and what it does. It gives marketers really quick understanding how they are currently fairing, you know, in all of their digital activity because of what you and I were just talking about. Um, things have shifted. And so that’s what I need to stop doing. There’s probably more on that than you would’ve ever imagined before.
Jim Ewel (24:18):
And do you mind if I relate that back to the book for a minute, because I want to talk about that. So the first discipline is alignment and the first place to get alignment is with the sales organization. Okay. When I used to teach this course in person, uh, and I, I don’t do that these days, but I do a virtual version of this when I taught it in person. I said, okay, make sure that sales is there for lunch for one of the two days in which we’re, we’re, we’re teaching. We brought in sales for lunchtime, and then we sat down and had a conversation with them about what is marketing doing well today? What is marketing not doing so well today in the, you know, if you could have marketing do one thing in the next 60 days. Okay. What would it be? You know, they’re just a little simple questions of asking of sales, but that getting sales to be actually working with marketing and regard marketing is having value. Okay. I mean, it makes a huge difference in the organization if marketing and sales are working together and they respect each other’s contribution to the process of, of helping the customer make the best decision.
Jim Rembach (25:28):
Most definitely. So I think the shift is really the important part. Um, when, even when you, when you start talking about alignment, I think we all have to take a step back and say, okay, what I was doing a B a lot of the things that I need to stop doing, you know, and we need to start some things that are new, or put more effort into things that we already have. And part of that comes into budget, right? So if I’m looking at, you know, Hey, I’m now a B2B digital marketer, I have a budget. Um, if I do have the authority to move and reallocate work, where should I be pulling from and applying to,
Jim Ewel (26:02):
Well, the obvious thing that we stopped spending as much on was physical events, right. And trade shows and things like that. And thank God, because even before COVID, I never thought those things were very valuable and I would have told people to shift, shift money from those anyway. Um, so then now we’re doing virtual events. Okay. But don’t think about shifting all that budget to virtual events, because I think virtual events are best when they’re low budget and authentic. Okay. There, you should not have a big budget for virtual events time. Yeah. You want to spend some time on that. Okay. But you want to spend your time on differentiating yourself and that doesn’t require money. It requires, thought it requires, you know, doing things. Okay. Um, you know, the other piece that I would shift is the digital advertising. I, yeah. Digital advertising can be valuable, but boy, there’s so much competition there, you know, uh, to, to do that thing.
Jim Ewel (26:59):
And I would shift that into some other areas. Like I mentioned earlier, a sophisticated ABM strategy, you know, and, and doing that now that may require a little bit of a budget on the digital advertising to do that sophisticated ABM strategy. And that’s fine, but the advertising has to be handmaiden to a strategy. And it shouldn’t be the thing, you know, Oh, we, we, this is how we do our thing. We’re spending these big bucks on advertising. No, no, no, no. You do these other things and advertising supports those things. So that’s how I’d shift both the budget and the mentality of, of the organization.
Jim Rembach (27:37):
And as you’re talking, I even started going back to where we had referred to me that, Hey, I’m a solo. Well, what does that mean for a solo? That means that I’m really paying attention because I can still do ABM, even if I’m solo. But I know that, you know, potentially this person is a buyer who is, and this part of the organization, this person is a buyer. This person is, and I need to talk to each one of those. Otherwise you’re not talking to anyone. That’s right. That’s right. And I’ve, I’ve seen people say, okay, this is my, you know, communication and connection strategy, my indoctrination, my welcome series, whatever you want to talk about. Right. And it’s like, well, you only have one. Yeah. That’s all I need.
Jim Ewel (28:14):
No, no, no, no, no. You got to have multiples. Yup. You got to customize it.
Jim Rembach (28:18):
Not the way that it works. So if we start talking about, and I think he may have hit some of these, but I want to, I want to be more succinct in this. What is currently overrated with B2B digital marketing?
Jim Ewel (28:33):
Um, yeah, I was talking about leads. Um, what else is overrated? Um, you know, I, you know, I, I don’t know. I mean, that’s the big thing is the, is the focus on leads, uh, you know, other than that, there’s still so much to do. Um, and, um, and the hard thing today is that you almost have to do all of it. Okay. You can’t just simply, you know, do this one piece of it because it’s, it’s all the pieces working together that really make the difference. Um, so
Jim Rembach (29:16):
Two, you also said this, and this is maybe where I think, um, clarity may help with this particular question is that you, you talk in the book about how, while we have this model, while we have these disciplines, while we have this, you know, trans transformation that needs to take place, it’s not a one size fits all. No. Right.
Jim Ewel (29:35):
That’s right. And so you need to figure out what’s going to work for your organization. Right. And I talk about that in terms of, I do think the very first place to start is alignment. Okay. If you don’t get alignment, you’re not going to be doing the right thing. So you kind of have to go through that discipline first. Okay. But for example, structure, the second discipline, maybe for your organization, maybe not, you’re a Singleton, you know, it applies, but that may not be the next place that you want to spend some, some time on. Okay. Um, uh, another one is validated learning. You know, I think it’s one of the most important things out there. People would talk about growth hacking. Nah, it’s a good buzzword, but you know, the truth is that it’s not about hacking, you know, customers it’s about constantly delivering value.
Jim Ewel (30:31):
And how do you do that? You learn what customers really want. You validate your assumptions about customers and you’re constantly checking on those things. Okay. So I, I think if you do nothing else, okay. If you focus on that validated learning, that’s another important place to start, but you know, maybe for you, the biggest thing is the customer experience. So that may be, you know, maybe you start there next. Okay. So I don’t think that there is a one size fits all. You gotta do it in this order. Okay. You gotta do what’s right for you. And maybe you do the customer experience part, and then you validate the parts of that customer experience. And so you flip the order of those and that’s fine. Okay. Um, I do think that it is important to think about that difference that I mentioned earlier about being agile versus doing agile and thinking about the shifts, not just doing all of the, the process of agile, I see too many people who say we’re practicing agile because we’re holding daily ups.
Jim Ewel (31:37):
Right. And that sort of thing. I know that’s not enough. It’s not going to get you to where you want to go. Okay. You’re not going to be agile in the dictionary definition of that fast response to change and adapting to these different things. If you’re just holding daily, stand-ups, it’s not enough. Okay. So you’ve got to figure out how are we going to change the culture and the mindset and the behaviors that people do. Okay. And it all comes down to how do people make those individual little daily decisions that add up to, you know, a culture because the culture is a bunch of individuals making little decisions. Okay. And they make decisions based on the values and what the organization says that it values. Okay. If the customer talks happy, talk about, you know, yes, we value customers, blah, blah, blah. But every single decision is in favor of the, the, the organization and against what is best for the customer. People pick up on that really quick, you know, and they’re going to make the decisions that, you know, are the wrong decision for the customer. So you have to make sure that you not only express the values, but you walk up, walk the talk. Okay. You gotta make sure that you help people understand that every decision they make affects the customer and what they’re trying to do. So you’ve got to make that happen. Right.
Jim Rembach (33:05):
As you’re talking, I started wanting to ask the question, you know, what is hacking in marketing? Or how do you hack in marketing? And, and for me, I think the mindset of hacking and marketing is really important. So if you think hacking, for example, is taking shortcuts, you will find that it’s going to have a boomerang effect. You’re going to miss something. You know, you’re not going to get the results that you would desire or that you could have received. So I think hacking is really about, from my perspective about doing it correctly, because what ends up happening is you will move faster. You’ll get more marketing velocity when you do it correctly.
Jim Ewel (33:42):
Yeah. Scott Brinker wrote a great book about hacking marketing. Okay. And what Scott talked about is not taking shortcuts. It’s about applying the best of what some of the technologists have done to marketing. Right? So, you know, using some of the same techniques and some of the same technologies and, and, and how do you take these things that have worked in other disciplines and apply them to marketing? That’s what really hacking marketing is about. Okay. And if that’s what you’re doing, man, I’m all for it. If you think hacking is a shortcut to trick the customer, forget it, that ain’t going to work.
Jim Rembach (34:22):
Definitely not. Okay. So then that leads me into, you know, really looking at how does a B2B, digital marketer be a disruptor.
Jim Ewel (34:32):
Yeah. So, um, the short answer is you need a fail regularly. Okay. You need to fail often. Okay. If you’re not failing, you’re not taking enough chances. You’re not doing enough things that are different from other people. Okay. What I tell people is thinking about how you budget your time. Okay. Because your time is the most valuable thing. It’s not your, your dollar budget, it’s your time budget. Okay. And I tell them, you should be spending no more than 40 to 50% of your time on the baseline stuff that keeps the lights on and keeps your business going. Okay. Yes. That’s important. You got to do that. Okay. But it shouldn’t be consuming all of your time. If it is something’s wrong, you’ve got to find a way to do that more, more efficiently and effectively. Then you should spend 25% of your time on optimizing the things that you’re doing well, and you’ve got to optimize all the time.
Jim Ewel (35:26):
Okay. That thing that you did in LinkedIn that got you to 726% improvement that comes in that twenty-five percent of the time. Okay. So you’ve gotta be doing that and then fully 25 of your time. And nobody spends this much time. I, I just I’ve yet to meet the customer who spends a full 25% of their time, disrupting doing totally different things, doing things that, you know, seven or eight of, out of 10 of these things are going to fail. Okay. But the two or three that work, those are the things that are going to make all the difference and make you grow and, and make real things happen in your business. So you need to find at least 25% of your time in disruptive type things and innovative type things.
Jim Rembach (36:11):
Well, you hit on a really important point that I’d like to add on because some people could potentially take away and say, Hey, I just need to go make mistakes. And it’s all okay. And that’s not it because, because it starts affecting your time shoot as well as your money issue, your credibility issue. That’s just the issue. And so you have to be a little bit more disciplined in deciding of the things that I am going to attempt to test, which may result in a failure. You know, that I have some, you know, discipline, uh, and it’s an educated more of an educated type of guests, but then also you need, I think you need to test some assumptions. Right?
Jim Ewel (36:44):
That’s right. And the other thing is you got to fail in small ways. Okay. Better that are correctable, right? You can’t do these big failure things that are going to take all your budgets and all that sort of stuff. Right. I mean, you need to run the smallest possible test. You can test out this, this new thing. Okay. It shouldn’t be a big budget thing. It shouldn’t, you know, take all of your time, all that sort of stuff. You just want to run this small thing to see, Hey, is this going to work right? And don’t say anything about it in advance, right? Don’t, don’t set up expectations about this thing. And the ones you want to talk about are the ones that start to work. Okay. But you’ve got to start small and start tiny, tiny start with a tiny little test, you know, th this, this concept from the lean startup of the most, uh, uh, minimum viable product. Right. Okay. Well, it’s not a product at all. It’s a test is what it is. We need to think about that from a marketing point of view. What’s the minimum thing that we can test of this crazy idea. So we’re not risking a lot. Okay. And we’re not, you know, setting up a big failure that it’s, someone’s going to pay attention to. We’re trying out a little thing and if it works, then we’re going to publicize it.
Jim Rembach (37:58):
Okay. So I like clarity. Cause I mean, I’ve, I worked for an organization where we mentioned the customer experience for more than 15 years, and this would always come into play when people start talking about statistics and sample sizes and things like that. So we don’t want to go too tiny. So for us, when we started looking at samples and started looking at normalization of data and when do things kind of level out when you can you start seeing a pattern, right. You really, you really need to get up in your sample sizes to be above 30. Right. Um, and, and even of the samples, you know, you have to look at who are you sampling? You know, what’s your population. So there’s, there’s you can’t, I mean, you have to have some around statistical testing as well.
Jim Ewel (38:36):
Yeah. You, you do. And, and the number depends on how many people you interact with 30 is a good number for B2B. Okay. Uh, but I mean, if you’re doing large scale things, uh, and you’re talking to thousands of people, you may need another larger number. I don’t think you have to get to the 95% confidence interval, which is the usual thing for statistics. 80% is good enough for me to, to start experimenting, uh, on something. So, yeah.
Jim Rembach (39:06):
And then I would say then also it’s graduated. So I don’t necessarily say, Hey, I have, you know, an, um, you know, 80% competence in the responses. And so therefore now I’m pouring all this into it. Now maybe we raise it up a little bit and tweak it a little bit and iterate. And I think that’s all part of the agile discipline.
Jim Ewel (39:24):
Yeah. Yeah. I liken it to the old battleship game. Did you ever play that game? Oh yeah. Yeah. Right. So you need to be doing things that are sort of locating the ships. Okay. And then you, you, you, you bomb the ship, you know, you wipe it out. Okay. And so what that means is you need to be doing in your marketing, some things that are exploratory and you know, that they’re exploratory and you’re not expecting to get a 95% competence level, and you’re not expecting to get, you know, huge changes or whatever. And then you have to do things that are the optimization. That’s when you found the ship, you, you found the channel, the new channel that, that has some promise and you’re optimizing it for that. So you need to have this mix of exploratory and optimization things that you’re doing
Jim Rembach (40:13):
Most definitely. Jim mule, man, we also are going to have a little giveaway. Um, if people go to B2B, digital, Mar, or B2B, dm.com, and you can just do a search for either agile marketing or Jim Yule, which is E w E L um, you’ll get access to a guide to agile marketing, and we’re going to make that available as well. And we’ll also have some other tools and resources on Jim’s show notes page as well, including a link to his book. Uh, the six disciplines of agile marketing. Jim, I’ve had a great time with you today. Can you please share with the B2B DM gang, how they can get in touch with you?
Jim Ewel (40:45):
Yeah. So you can reach [email protected]. Okay. Just send me an email or go to my website, agile marketing.net. Okay.
Jim Rembach (40:53):
10 mil. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, and we wish you the very best.

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