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Push and Pull Marketing Nicoline Maes

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Deep Insights on Technology and the Customer Experience John O'Connor

Deep Insights on Customer Experience and Technology

Our world is rapidly evolving, and technology is becoming more advanced. Business operations and marketing efforts are becoming more automated and less personal. However, as we enter into this new digital age, does it also change the way we do our marketing? Listen to this episode as John O’Connor shares why although the digital age has changed, the marketing principles remains the same.

Building a Long-Term Relationship Joe Apfelbaum

Joe Apfelbaum: Building a Long-Term Relationship with Your B2B Customers

Developing a relationship with B2B customers is different compared to B2C. According to Joe Apfelbaum, it’s going to take a significant amount of planning. A good relationship with a B2B customer always involves a lot of digital trust, and it requires marketers to be transformational rather than transactional. If you want to improve your digital marketing efforts then take a listen to this episode as Joe Apfelbaum shares strategies and tactics in helping you develop a long-term relationship with your B2B customers.

Making a human connection with multimedia A Lee Judge

Engaging Multimedia Content: Making a Human Connection

With sales and marketing being done more at a distance, traditional methods for engaging potential customers are becoming more obsolete. Companies need to realize that if they want to stay afloat during these trying times they need to adapt and use content and technology to engage more with their potential customers. But is it really that easy? In this episode of the B2B Digital Marketer podcast, A. Lee Judge shares why it’s not really the technical difficult that companies have to overcome, but rather their anxiety, and having the guts to just hit the record button.

Standing out in linkedin David Ubeda

Standing Out in LinkedIn with Simple Strategies

With the world at the current state it’s in, finding leads and business has become a real challenge for B2B companies. They’ve heard of LinkedIn as a great platform to do that but don’t necessarily know the strategies and tactics to leverage it for their business. In this episode, David Ubeda shares his experience how you can use LinkedIn in your B2B digital marketing strategy and potentially generate 426 sales appointment in a year!

Personal relationship to stand out Linda Ruffenach

Linda Ruffenach: How A Personal Relationship Can Make You Stand Out

Majority of businesses take pride in their product and technology, but no matter how advanced it gets, if it doesn’t solve the customer’s problems then it doesn’t matter at all. Linda Ruffenach shares in this episode why B2B digital marketing is all about building a personal relationship with the customer and solving their problems.Majority of businesses take pride in their product and technology, but no matter how advanced it gets, if it doesn’t solve the customer’s problems then it doesn’t matter at all. Linda Ruffenach shares in this episode why B2B digital marketing is all about building a personal relationship with the customer and solving their problems.

Rehumanizing B2B Digital Marketing Ethan Beute

Ethan Beute: Rehumanizing B2B Digital Marketing

With technology advancing and our world rapidly changing, automation and digital communication becomes the modern approach to marketing. However, this modern approach can sometimes lead to a situation where everything is automated and communication becomes too digital and faceless. The human connection is gone and marketers are no longer able to build a relationship with their customers. Ethan Beute shares in this episode how we can use modern technology, specifically video messaging, to make our communications more personal and rehumanize our businesses.

Making b2b digital marketing more interactive Eric Burgess

Eric Burgess: Making B2B Digital Marketing More Interactive

B2B Digital Marketing have traditionally been operated in a static way. For example, people would send an email blast and immediately end their campaigns. It’s impersonal and does not consider the customer’s emotion or personality. With the current advancements in technology today, communication channels are merging and the line between personal and business is becoming thinner and thinner. Eric Burgess, shares in this episode why B2B digital marketers need to communicate to customers the same way they would with their friends or family. Your customers are people, and people buy from people. According to Eric, B2B digital marketing should be conversational rather than static.

How to optimize b2b digital marketing Chloe Thomas

Chloë Thomas: How to Optimize Your B2B Digital Marketing

B2B Digital Marketer
B2B Digital Marketer
Chloë Thomas: How to Optimize Your B2B Digital Marketing

In this episode of the B2B Digital Marketer Podcast, Chloë Thomas shares strategies and insights on how you can optimize your B2B digital marketing campaigns. With the current situation of the world, more and more companies are transitioning to a virtual platform. Listen to this episode as Chloë explains how you can do better digitally on virtual summits, LinkedIn outreach, content repurposing, and more!

Best selling Author, International Speaker, and host of the Award-winning eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast.

Chloë is one of the Top 50 UK influencers in eCommerce and Shipping (Scurri 2019), and the podcast is regularly included in lists of the top eCommerce & marketing podcasts in the world.

Chloë Thomas has been in eCommerce since 2003, she’s worked client-side, agency-side, and adviser-side. Working with a wide variety of retailers from high street omnichannel operations, to fresh online only start-ups, covering international launches, subscription, B2B and even dabbling in marketplaces.

Chloë’s speciality is solving eCommerce Marketing Problems from how to increase new customer acquisition, to improving the performance of email marketing newsletters, or finding the right new website provider.


01:34 – How Chloë Thomas started in B2B digital marketing

04:10 – Chloë’s passion in networking and virtual summits

06:52 – How virtual summits are different from traditional conferences or summits

09:24 – Using incentives properly to attract the right customer

12:05 – Examples of bad marketing in LinkedIn

14:56 – Why LinkedIn outreach campaigns are overrated

16:33 – How the quality of a content makes a B2B digital marketer a disruptor

18:01 – The opportunity in content repurposing and podcasting

21:56 – Investing in great email campaigns

25:23 – Having unlimited budget in the business: Investing in good salespeople, creating workflows, and increasing advertising spend

28:03 – The importance of testing in marketing

28:56 – The question every digital marketer should ask themselves

31:32 – Learn more about Chloë Thomas and her new marketing podcast, Keep Optimising

Memorable Quotes

“If you cannot target your target customer with keywords that they might have put in their LinkedIn profile, it’s almost certainly going to fail for you.”

“Whether it’s the quality of a tweet, the quality of a Facebook ad, the quality of a podcast or a book or a report, if it’s something that’s high quality then you’re going to get results from it.”

“We’re entering into a space where less is more.”

“What’s going to disrupt is taking a step back and slowing down the content churn so you can actually make each piece pay and be worth creating in the first place.”

“If you want to get the story out there, podcasts are the way to go.”

Links and Resources

eCommerce Marketing How to Get Traffic that BUYS to Your Website

Chloë’s website:

Chloë’s Podcast:

Chloë’s Books:

Chloë’s Twitter:

Chloë’s LinkedIn:

e-Commerce Master Plan Twitter:

e-Commerce Master Plan Facebook:

e-Commerce Master Plan Instagram:

Show Transcript

Click to access unedited transcript

Unedited Transcript

Jim Rembach (00:00):

Okay, B2B DM gang. I have somebody on the show today who is going to give us some great insight from her gosh, approaching. Well, we don’t want, we don’t want to date her, but many years of experience and B to B marketing, and we’re going to focus in on some digital aspects that are gonna really make a difference for you and give you a different perspective. Now, Chloe Thomas is also a bestselling author. She’s a speaker and a podcaster, and she’s actually getting ready to launch another podcast here, coming up shortly. And we may talk about that at the second. Um, but her book, her most recent book that is most apropos for you is the B2B eCommerce master plan, which is an Amazon bestseller that you can actually pick up a on your Kindle version as well as audio book, as well as, um, you know, just that the solid copy that you want to keep as a desk reference. So, Chloe, thanks for joining us on the B2B DM show. Tell us a little bit about your background and experience in this area and in how it actually can benefit our listeners today.

Chloë Thomas (00:58):

So thanks for that lovely intro, Jim, and you’re more than welcome to date me. Um, uh, in terms of age, uh, we’re far too much ocean in the way it’s date me any other way. I think it’d be 40 difficult distance relationship and in these circumstances over the sea, but it’d be, yes, I’ve been in the world of marketing for over 15 years and I probably it’d be more accurate to say nearly 20 years. Um, I started off on purely on the consumer side. So businesses selling to consumers. I worked for Barclay’s bank, one of the biggest banks here in the UK. Then I worked for a high street retailer doing a mix of digital and offline marketing. And then I set up a marketing agency and that was, that was my first experience of the world of B to B marketing and B2B digital marketing ran that for 10 years, uh, tried all sorts of things.

Chloë Thomas (01:46):

We ran our own events, we spoken about it. So we took stands at events, email, social media. You know, you think about how much happened. I think that was 2007 to 2017, how much development there was in the space. We tried all of it. Um, whilst running Google ads and email marketing and Facebook ads and LinkedIn advertising for businesses, both on the BTC and the B to B side of things. Then before selling that, um, I started the business. I now run, which is called eCommerce master plan, which is all about helping eCommerce business owners improve their businesses. So whilst I spend my life talking about e-commerce and selling to consumers, mostly apart from the book, you mentioned B to B eCommerce plan where that’s helping businesses sell to other businesses via the web. Most of what I do day to day is actually B to B marketing, you know, trying to get other business people, to listen to my podcast, to buy my courses, um, occasionally also to, to, um, you know, to buy my services, although these days I don’t do a lot of that.

Chloë Thomas (02:53):

Um, and then on the other side, I suppose the thing which I do, and I did quite a lot of work for other businesses selling to eCommerce businesses. I know it’s a complex world. I inhabit, I mean, you know, so the likes of the big email, SAS providers and other website providers and the big SAS businesses and helping them to sell to other businesses by speaking at their events, um, taking their sponsorship money and various things like that. So over the last 15 years, I’ve experienced B2B marketing from multiple different angles. And I suspect in this chat, we’re going to hit on quite a few of them and hopefully quite a few bits of pieces of that will be helpful to your audience.

Jim Rembach (03:33):

Well, and I think what you just mentioned is so important is that diversity of background and that what a lot of people may not see from a perspective is that while you’re focusing on one particular niche from a, your solutions that you’re offering perspective, you’re still doing a lot of the work that a lot of our listeners are really interested in is how, how do I attract, how do I build brand? How do I build relationship? You know, how do I convert? I mean, all those things that are important for that longer sales cycle, that most of our listeners are, are having to get over the hump on a, so when I talk about, you know, the passion that you have in this particular space, knowing, you know, who our audience is and what we focus in on, give us a little bit of insight into that.

Chloë Thomas (04:16):

Yeah, this is essentially cause my, my passions tend to change almost from day to day. Um, but I suppose the thing which, you know, in these, in these times where here in the UK, every conference has been canceled for this year and for my own sales process, when I’m, you know, a really important part of my business is selling to those SAS companies who sell to other, other businesses to sponsor the podcast, to sponsor my books, to pay me, to speak at events and webinars. And usually the me, the, um, the relationship with those begins at our biggie commerce, expos, you know, those big shows where I will very respectfully trawl my way around the stands going, Hey, do you need someone to speak at your event? Have you seen my book? Would you like some copies? Do you know what a podcast is that person wants to buy from you?

Chloë Thomas (05:06):

Stop talking to me, you know, very, very respectfully. Um, and the, uh, you know, I, it’s a really big experiment for me. Can I, this year will probably be okay, but will next year be all right if I haven’t got those face to face opportunities to make that first point of contact with people. And that’s, that’s something which I’ve really been mulling over this year and trying to, well, not this year in the last couple of months and trying to work out how I’m, how I’m going to fix it. And it’s what I’m, what I’m finding so far is that LinkedIn is doing great things. I don’t know if they’ve changed the algorithm or something, but there’s some really good engagement going on on LinkedIn. And then the other side of it is attending the big virtual conferences that are happening the big virtual summits, which in my industry, everyone’s a virtual summit now, you know, we seem to move past webinars to virtual summits. And within those, there’s some quite interesting networking going on. Some which I think is working in some, which just seems a bit blast everyone. You can find on the attendee list, but I’m currently trying to work out how those work. So I guess those would be my passions at the moment.

Jim Rembach (06:16):

Well, and I think you bring up some really interesting points in that a lot of organizations are taking what they’ve traditionally been doing and just trying to just force it up into the internet or into the cloud or whatever you want to refer to it as. And that has not worked for a lot of organizations. I mean, I’ve heard more horror stories and scenarios where people said, Oh, that was just a bad experience. Um, because it’s not the same thing. I mean, I did a virtual virtual summit, you know, a year and a half ago. Right. Um, before all of this stuff started happening and even then I know the whole user experience became a vital importance for me. You know, part of that is my background being in customer experience and contact centers and all that. But, um, I, you know, I see that the user experience is yet going to cause a whole lot of dropout in a lot of these companies or even trying to do some of the virtual things.

Chloë Thomas (07:07):

Yeah. And what we’re seeing from some of them that have happened in our industry so far is, um, there’s a few businesses who are trying to create a virtual summit and because they’ve never done one before and like you I’ve done a couple of my own in the past. And there are very different beasts to the offline event. And they’re trying to mirror the offline event, which leads to some quite impressive complexity. I spoke at one the other day and we had to log into one thing to move our slide deck. Another thing to meet up with people before we went live, another thing to be live. And there was like, it was just like, wow, this is quite common. I mean, it created a really pretty video screen for the person watching, but I’m not sure it was worth it for that amount of complexity and that amount of stress for quite frankly, everybody involved.

Chloë Thomas (07:55):

And I think the other side of it is how, you know, these big events, even when they’re virtual, they still take a lot of effort to put on. There’s still a lot of cost involved. You’ve still got people who want to sponsor, you want people to sponsor it. And the people who want to sponsor want people to come to their virtual booth. And you know, we, I’m speaking to one person who’s done one of these recently and they were doing a competition. If you come to our booth, you could win some crazy, really nice prize. And they got five people out of a conference that had 10, a thousand signed up and they were, they were hammering that during the day, you know, it was hard to avoid that message and still people weren’t going there, whether they couldn’t find it on the user experience wise on the screen or not. I don’t know, but it’s, it’s difficult. It’s, it’s a much, you’ve really got to change your head space and you can’t just copy and paste it on and offline cause it’s a very different beast. Yeah.

Jim Rembach (08:48):

Okay. So that brings up a really interesting point when you start talking about incentivization and incentivizing and a lot of people think, Hey, you give them a bigger prize and you know that we’re going to show up, but then again, who are the ones showing up for the prize? I mean, are they really prospects and easy to say, Hey, just incentivize. I mean, I was having the same issue and you and I, you know, talk about, you know, podcasting and podcast launches and how, um, you know, there’s some things that are important in regards to, you know, getting noticed as far as your podcast is concerned and there’s tactics and strategies and things like that. And you start asking yourself the question of incentivizing it’s like, Hmm. And the fact is, is that’s a very, very slippery slope, which could have a, you know, a negative boomerang.

Chloë Thomas (09:35):

Yeah. It’s something that we talk about in the eCommerce space a lot as well. It’s like, Oh yeah, you come on a competition to get email signups so you can give away, I don’t know, a big gift box to some big gift hamper or something. But when you, what you actually sell is I dunno, a water bottles. It’s not a very relevant prize. Whereas if you’re giving away a water bottle, then you know, the people are signing up at interested in water bottles. And that doesn’t necessarily correlate in the SAS space. If you’re selling email software, you’ve probably already got a free sign up running. So what’s the competition for, um, maybe it should be for, you know, six months free usage of the platform or something, or, or free consulting when you sign up. But it it’s difficult because I mean, you, I guess quite possibly like you, you like me and like many of our listeners, you go to a conference and you find out which piece of tech is invoked because every stand is giving away an iPad. And then they were all giving away an Amazon Alexa and it’s, you know, then it was an Apple watch came after that. And it’s like, Oh really? What? I’m interested in your software, but I don’t want to, when the Apple watch, it’s all a bit, gets a bit too generic.

Jim Rembach (10:42):

Yeah. It’s funny to even say that, um, I went to a large conference several years back and at the time I was, um, you know, um, a provider of services as well, uh, that happened to be there. And I happened to sit in on this short demo for this one, uh, organization, you know, that their did their little, you know, five, 10 minute, you know, here’s our solution, new updates, that kind of thing. And so I was curious, so I sat down, I listened and they did a drawing for the 15 people that were sitting there and I won a a hundred dollars gift card. Um, and I gave it back to him. I said, actually, I’m a solution provider too. He goes, are you, he didn’t, he almost didn’t want to take it back. And I’m like I said, give it to one of your people who are, you know, that are sitting here. That could be a potential customer. I said, because it’s not me. Um, but so I actually gave back money,

Chloë Thomas (11:28):

But it’s, it’s strange how, um, you know, one of the things which I learned early on in my kind of sales and marketing career was that, uh, no is as useful as a yes. Cause you can take that person off. You can stop wasting time and energy on them. Um, and you can just get on with it with other things. And at the moment, I’m fine. I’m pretty easy to find on LinkedIn. I’m quite visible. And because I have the word e-commerce in my, in my piece, I get a lot of communications that should for retailers. And a lot of people are bulk mailing, massive amount of bolt mailing on LinkedIn at the moment, you know, they’ll connect and then they sale and they sell it. They sell so, but I get some really good connections through LinkedIn as well. So I try and keep that inbox clear by going back to them, going look happy to be connected, but I am not your target customer.

Chloë Thomas (12:12):

So there’s no point in selling to me and you’ll be amazed. People who come back going, are you sure you’re not my target customer? And I’m like, wait, right. One, you were a bad marketer in the first place because you hadn’t looked at my profile yet. Cause I’m looking and I’m going well, you’d be a perfect sponsor for my podcast, but I’m not joining the dots for you. You can join the dots because you know, you clearly don’t know who I am. Um, cause you haven’t looked at my profile page and you kinda like, right. So I’ve gone back and I said, I’m not a good connection. You know, why not? You know, you can see certain amount on LinkedIn mail that this is, you know, podcast host, probably not a retailer. And then, you know, you’re like, all right, I’ve gone back and told you, I’m not a prospect. Why don’t you take a look at my site and go, Oh, hold on. You know? And they might go, Oh, maybe you’ve got clients. Maybe we could do something on the podcast. If they come back with a reason, you know, something that shows they’ve actually put some effort in that I’m all up for it. But yeah, it amazes me. How many salespeople, when you say, look, there’s no point in trying to sell to me, just hold on for grip grim. This is not good marketing. Good.

Jim Rembach (13:12):

Well, I think what you’re just stating right. There is an issue with a lot of B2B digital marketers right now is what do I do? You know, how do I spammy? How do I not, you know, create a situation where I get turned off, but I guess I do have to say this, you know, it also, it also not a situation where it’s, um, you know, if you miss once you’re dead, because there are so many things that are coming up people and, and the, the recall and memory, I mean, you know, I don’t think we can remember, you know, who tried to do something like that, you know, two months ago. So have a little bit of pause there.

Chloë Thomas (13:51):

Yeah, yeah, exactly. It’s a, I think that, I think actually the recall of people for me, I find is less when I’m not meeting them in the physical space. Somehow I remember people less when I’m only ever meeting them on line when I’m only ever meeting them via LinkedIn or email or something. So I have to really consciously try and work a bit harder at remembering the important people and forgetting the ones who keep trying to sell me things I’m never going to buy.

Jim Rembach (14:19):

So with that being said, I mean, we’re chasing a lot of different things, right. And you even talked about going to a show and it’s like, Hey, you know, it’s the brand new, you know, Apple something or the brand new, whatever, Alexa something. I mean, so when you start talking about, you know, B2B, digital marketing, what do you think right now is overrated?

Chloë Thomas (14:39):

Oh, that’s a tricky question. Cause at the moment there’s, um, there’s so many things which everyone’s getting used to and making better, you know, um, people, there’s a lot of webinars that are terrible. There’s a lot of, um, uh, virtual summits that are terrible at the moment as well. But I don’t think that necessarily means that overrated, I think, Oh shit, Oh, such a tricky question. This is the one that on which, which, which I find the most difficult, I suppose, I suppose actually for me in my, the worst thing I’ve done in the last 12 months is run one of those LinkedIn, each outreach campaigns that promises the earth and I can see it would work in some spaces, but if you cannot target your target customer with keywords that they might’ve put in their LinkedIn profile, it’s almost certainly going to fail for you. So I think that’s one of the, for me, that’s the worst one I’ve done in the last 12 months.

Jim Rembach (15:37):

Well, and a lot of people talk about the whole expense with LinkedIn and LinkedIn marketing and, but we’re, and then we’re also on the flip side here and a lot of backlash, for example, on Facebook and Facebook ads and, you know, companies pull in big dollars and, and, and, you know, you look at just some of the spend that is currently taking place and how it’s prioritized and things like that. I mean, you know, w what should a, B to B digital marketer do? I mean, so if I start talking about, I want to be someone who stands out, I want to do something different. I want to be the one that they are paying attention to when they have 10 other things that could potentially capture their attention. So how do I become that disruptor?

Chloë Thomas (16:16):

I’m not sure there’s a marketing method that would make you the disruptor. I think it has to be the quality of the content. Um, whether that’s the quality of a tweet, the quality of a Facebook ad, the quality of a podcast or a book or a report. If it’s something that’s high quality, then I think you’re going to get the results from it. And I think we’re entering a space where less is more so it’s no longer a case of, we need to release a report every month, this year in order to get our leads up and all the rest of it. It’s a case of we should release one report per quarter or one report every six months and really work at, you know, work on making sure it’s high quality and then work on making sure we’re promoting it in the right places. So as people hear about it, and they hear the stories that’s going on, podcasts going on, YouTube channels, doing interviews, getting into the press, but having real value to it and then getting it out in front of people. And I think that’s, that’s, what’s going to disrupt is taking a step back and slowing down the content churn. So you could actually make each piece pay and be worth creating in the first place.

Jim Rembach (17:24):

Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. I’ve seen, um, sometimes the whole, um, as they say, hamster wheel starts rolling. When you start talking about content then, and I, I mean, for me, I see all the time, you know, with clients and non-clients, uh, with my agency is that, um, they’ll create something and just deposit it and leave it behind. And I’m like, well, Whoa, wait a minute. Fantastic. Now let’s talk about repurposing. Let’s talk about, you know, actually leveraging this. And in other ways, um, you know, besides just the whole content, you know, repurposing, I mean, there’s so many different things that could happen, um, that I don’t think people just really look at it cause they’re too busy. Hey, I gotta go move on to the next thing. So I think that’s a really valid and important point. So when you start talking about that and that issue where some of the key opportunities that exist. So if I created something, what should I be looking at doing?

Chloë Thomas (18:19):

I think that the repurposing thing, just to add something in that, which, which comes from my, my second ever job, where I was doing catalog mailings. And if you’ve, if anyone who’s ever been a catalog, mailer will know that you release the catalog and then a month later you put a different cover on it and you send the customers exactly the same catalog and you get more sales from the same people because they think it’s new. And 99% of it was exactly the same. It’s really, really cost effective, very, very powerful. And the same thing happens with white papers and reports. Um, I wrote one, a couple of years ago for Trustpilot the reviews company. It was a thing of beauty. It was like 20 different ways to use your reviews. I was really proud of it, and it was based on all their case studies and they were giving it away at one of the big events in the UK.

Chloë Thomas (19:09):

And I, you know, the following year, when do you want me to do another one that no, that’s okay. Turn up to the event. And they just put a new cover on. And I was part of me was like, that’s awesome. He was like, got it lost is they’re never going to buy another one for me. They’re just going to keep recovering it every year. But so you can recover and relaunch as well. But I suppose if you want to get the story out that I’m slightly biased, but I think podcasts are a great way to go. I think at the moment, in particular, on the webinar front in the UK, everyone is wanting to do partnership webinars. You know, I’ll come on, let’s do a webinar together. We’ll both promote it to our list. We’ll get some clients and we’ll get something and we’ll talk about something interesting and we’ll do it with you, you and you, because that’s better.

Chloë Thomas (19:52):

And that’s what everyone’s up to because they are desperate for interesting content. And the clients are getting bored of having to go on webinars every five minutes. So to go to them and go, we’ve got this brilliant report. Can I come on your webinar and talk about it? If it’s high quality, they’ll agree because they want to put something which is targeted to, to the core audience in front of them. So I think that’s, that’s a good opportunity reaching out and asking if you can come and talk about it so people can hear about it.

Jim Rembach (20:20):

Well, and I think for some folks, uh, in the B2B space, I don’t hear it as much. I hear it, uh, definitely in the expert space where part of their core marketing activities is to get on as many podcasts as they possibly can.

Chloë Thomas (20:35):

Yeah. And it seems to be a few of the SAS people I know have started making moves in that direction. Um, a lot of, a lot of SAS business owners, according to the marketing and salespeople I talked to are very excited about podcasts, very excited about podcasts. So a lot of people are now doing it cause the boss has got excited about, which is a good thing because you know, it’s a great way to do it. So there’s there’s um, and I’m getting a lot more from SAS businesses who I, I would never kind of old world SAS businesses rather than new world SAS businesses, if that makes sense, um, who are, who’ve hired people to do the reach out and to try and get on shows. So it’s, um, yeah, there’s, there’s a lot of opportunity there, I think.

Jim Rembach (21:18):

No, most definitely. Okay. But with that being said, you know, there’s some constraints that we all have to work through. And one of the constraints is I only have a certain amount of money that I can leverage, uh, and all of our all resources in order to be able to accomplish my goal. And my goal from a B2B digital marketer perspective is to be able to present sales opportunities. So to the sales team. So if I were to say given constraints, I don’t have any more to spend. Where would you potentially look at reallocating some funds, uh, given where we are today?

Chloë Thomas (21:54):

I think, I think this is probably something I would have said before COVID-19 struck. Um, but certainly now when the big events are being canceled, which is a huge chunk of many marketers money, is those face to face events that, and that those, you get huge volume of leads, virtual events, you get much smaller volume of leads for similar amounts of effort, if not similar amounts of money. So the really crucial thing is to have great follow up in place. So I’d be investing in great email campaign sequences, potentially SMS sequences to make sure that both the new data is getting the best possible impression of the business and understanding of how they’re going to move into the sales process and want to move into the sales process. But also so that we’re, we’re, we’re picking the greatness out of the database we’ve already got, you know, it’s not about new, new news.

Chloë Thomas (22:46):

You know, we talk about the longterm sales process, certain alien e-commerce, you could have someone on your list for like two or three years before they decide it’s the right time to buy. You know, there’s only certain windows of the year when they’re going to put in place new software and there’s 20 different types of new software where they could put in place. And they can only put one in once a quarter maybe or one in once a month. So however much they like it if they like something else more. So there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of power in that, that kind of legacy database. So I’d be investing in the followup sequence is the work for that. I might even if the relationship with the sales team is strong enough and that’s where this one comes in, um, would you, could you then build some automations that help support the sales team, so to help their process to make sure that they’re right, they’re better equipped to convert because the marketing is really supporting them at that point. Cause that’s often a bit which, which people never quite get as far as working out because each sales person wants to do it differently and all the rest of it. So it can be, can be challenging to do that, but it can be very powerful if you, if you can make it work with your sales team.

Jim Rembach (23:52):

Yeah. I think that’s a such a vital point because much like we were talking about content that gets deposited and left behind the same thing happens with the contact or lead or a prospect. And, you know, it gets deposited and left behind all that was, that event is over. There is not a consideration of, you know, the fact that they may be a customer, you know, many, many of them months down the road. And I have to put that into my consideration set with whatever I’m doing and you’re right. I think that’s oftentimes the disconnect, you know, between the market sales activities is that there’s no continuation. It’s like, Hey, you know, um, first of all, are they quality leads? You know, that’s one thing, well, if you haven’t done any of that sequencing, if you haven’t done any of those automations, if you haven’t done any of that, how would you really ever know?

Jim Rembach (24:34):

Right. I mean, yeah, ends up happening is sales just says, Oh, you’re not giving me good stuff. Or we’re not going to sponsor that again. Or, and they just move on without actually really doing the work. So when I think about all of your background and experience, I started thinking about, you know, having fun with a lot of that and being able to leverage it. And so therefore let’s take off the blinders, let’s take off their constraints and you have unlimited budgets to do whatever you wanted. What would you love to do with that money?

Chloë Thomas (25:04):

Oh man, unlimited budget in my business. I would pay someone else to do the sales so I could spend more time on the marketing. I am, I’m a very well trained sales person, but I am not a natural salesperson. So, you know, to, to have the money, to be able to go out there and find a good sales person who fit in my business would be awesome. Cause it’s something I’ve never achieved today. So I guess that would be the first one on the list. Cause then, then you’ve got someone who can do the selling. So I can just concentrate on the marketing and generating them great leads to, well, Hey, there we go. Um, so that’s kind of the first thing I do then I would probably create some really good flows. Actually. It’s kind of like the, um, in the UK we say that the cobbler’s children’s shoes are always the worst shoes.

Chloë Thomas (25:53):

I don’t know if you have that same phrase in America. Um, so it would be a case of getting, um, getting my own email sequences up to speed and actually outsourcing that, which is something I can never justify because I should, should’ve done it well and I should have done it myself. So I think that that kind of piece I would definitely go after. And then once you’ve got that in place, it will be all about the advertising spend. Um, you mentioned Facebook ads being, um, an interesting space to be at the moment. Um, I think it’s July, everyone’s pulled back in and being very public about the fact they’re not gonna gonna use Facebook ads in July. I’m due to be launching my new podcast in July, which was about to have a huge spend on Facebook. There’s like, I’m not sure I can have brand new on a Facebook ad without potentially getting some negative repercussions.

Chloë Thomas (26:42):

So shifted that budget, um, into Twitter ads, which is something I’ve wanted to play around with for a long time. And, um, I’ve been playing around with that for about two days now and I’m seeing some quite interesting, I mean, far too early to tell really, but I’m seeing some quite interesting numbers on that. So I think, I think a lot would get spent on advertising on different platforms and working out the right thing to do on each. So if that answers your question, I’m not sure I’ve spent, spent a full million dollars, but um, yeah, that’s, that’s what I, what I do.

Jim Rembach (27:14):

Well, I would dare to say, um, some, one of the things that you’ve mentioned there that was really important and you didn’t carve it out per se, but, um, it’s testing. Yes,

Chloë Thomas (27:25):

It’s definitely. Yeah. It’s definitely not a case of here’s a load of money. Let’s spend it all this month. It would be a case of, you know, cause to go from, from a restricted budget to a massive budget is a dangerous thing. If you allocate all the money a month, one you’ve really got to go, right? We’ve got opportunities here, where would the best place be, and test and test and test and test and know. And the thing, the interesting thing is is your budget’s increasing, you start doing more than each of those things affects the other things more. So the whole, the whole, um, kind of structure changes simply because you’re doing more. So yeah. Yeah. There’d be a lot of testing involved as well.

Jim Rembach (28:01):

Well, and with that, you know, you talking about your background and experience and being so diverse in what you do for clients and what you’ve done in the past and your agency background and experience, and you know what you’re doing now and you’re speaking and I mean, you have all this, you know, diversity, which is, uh, you know, has significant amount of value in a lot of different ways. However, I think when you start looking at an individual digital marketer, you have to start saying, you know, what, what are some of the things that really they should be asking in order to be successful? So what are the, what is a question that a marketer should be asking themselves right now?

Chloë Thomas (28:35):

I think, you know, it should always be about taking a step back and seeing the wider picture, you know, right the way from where we get our leads through to retention at the other end and working at what point in that customer journey, your weakest, cause it’s really easy to go, Oh, Twitter ads. We’ll just keep working on the Twitter ads or all the events have been canceled. We need to generate leads, but actually there might be another point in the chain where you’re actually weakest, but the fact you’re able to pick up a few thousand leads at a big event. Do you spend a huge amount of money on every, every couple of months covered up the holes in the rest of the process. So just take a step back and go, where’s the weak point and then to focus in on improving that and to really focus in on improving that for a month or so before coming back up and taking it, that’s the question we should always be asking ourselves is where are we weakest?

Jim Rembach (29:29):

Yeah. And doing that throughout the year. Right? So it’s, when you start thinking about that, how often do we have to kind of do that review

Chloë Thomas (29:38):

In the old world? I would said about once every three months, I like to work on a quarterly planning process. And I find that gives you enough time to really make a difference. Cause we do it every week. Um, you know, you, you don’t make a difference. You, you know, you, you tweak something, you learn nothing and then you go and forget all about it and work on something else. Um, that’s so I’ll just say quarterly in a normal world, but because at the moment, behavior of the end consumer of whatever you’re doing, be their business will be their consumer of human beings. The way we’re living, the way where we’re adapting is changing so much, it’s gotta be a shorter time span than that. So if you’re going to do a less deep review to work out where you should focus because you can’t do, you know what you would do as a quarterly deep review every month, because you’d spent far too much time reviewing and not enough time doing, but you need to, to every month you should be asking the question is what I thought I should be working on this month, what I should be working on this month.

Chloë Thomas (30:35):

And it’s that speed of reassessment. And that speed of being able to adapt is what’s really, um, I think separating the winners from the losers at the moment.

Jim Rembach (30:45):

Most definitely Chloe I’ve had fun with you today. Um, can you please share with the B2B DM gang, how they can get in touch with you and share some information about that new podcast that you’re doing?

Chloë Thomas (30:54):

Yeah. Cool. So the, uh, the new podcast is called keep optimizing, which, because I’m British, I’m spelling with an ass, which I’m sure in a couple of years, time I would deeply regret. Um, but for now it’s spelled with an S a so keep optimizing. And that’s actually my personal mantra, which is kind of a combination of test, test, test, and a combination of where are you weakest? And it’s all about marketing. I mean, it’s coming at it from an eCommerce perspective, but there’s a lot of good stuff in there for any marketer, to be honest, because as you can tell my interest and a lot wider than just, just e-commerce and what we’re doing on that show, which is a bit different to others is each month we are focusing on a different topic. So our first month is all about email and I’ve got a different email expert every month. Second month is about SEO. And then on we go to, to pastor’s new each month, which is going to keep me interested. And I hope we’re getting the audience interested too. And you can find out everything, you know, how to get in contact with me about my podcast or my books and all the rest of it. Just go to eCommerce, master and you’ll find links to everything there.

Jim Rembach (31:56):

Chloe Thomas, thanks for sharing your knowledge and wisdom and the B2B D M gang wishes you the very best.

Chloë Thomas (32:01):

Thank you, Jim. It’s been an absolute pleasure to hang out with you too.

Samantha Stone: Understanding the Buyer’s Voice and Why It Matters

B2B Digital Marketer
B2B Digital Marketer
Samantha Stone: Understanding the Buyer’s Voice and Why It Matters

Understanding the Buyer’s Voice and Why It Matters

Majority of B2B companies focus so much on finding huge opportunities that they forget to deliver on their promises and make a positive, lasting impact on their customers.

In this episode of the B2B Digital Marketer Podcast, Samantha Stone shares on this episode why business should focus less on the quantity of leads they get and more on targeting the right customer and delivering deep and meaningful value to them. According to Samantha, everything you do in marketing is all about understanding the buyers and meeting their needs.

Samantha Stone, author of “Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook that Drives Sales”, is a revenue catalyst who helps unleash the possible in organizations that have complex selling processes.

She’s a fast-growth, B2B marketing strategist, researcher, speaker, consultant and persona coach who has also managed to find time to raise four children with her husband, David.

Throughout her career she has launched go-to-market initiatives and led marketing strategies for award-winning, high-growth companies including Netezza, SAP, Ascential Software and Powersoft.

In 2012 she founded The Marketing Advisory Network to help savvy business leaders unleash the possible within their enterprises.


01:01 – About Samantha Stone

01:56 – The test of endurance on long-term sales cycles

03:15 – Samantha’s passion in B2B digital marketing

04:34 – Why your company should deliver on what it promises

05:46 – Building a relationship with the buyer

07:50 – Making things easy for your customers

09:14 – Why the buyer’s journey is overrated

11:02 – Communicating with people who are in survival mode

13:19 – How often we go through the reengagement process

15:32 – Every company needs to know what it stands for.

19:35 – Shifting the budget from physical events to virtual events

21:32 – Quality vs. quantity content

23:09 – Asking your customers what they care about

24:46 – Understanding the buyer’s voice and balancing our point of view

26:57 – Why the buyer may not understand what you understand

28:24 – Where marketers should invest their money

32:15 – The one question every marketer should ask themselves

37:47 – Connect with Samantha Stone

Memorable Quotes

“Customers telling our stories are far more powerful than those product data sheets that we spend a lot of time on.”

“People don’t need 16 blog posts in their life, they need something deep and meaningful that they truly care about.”

“It’s not about a lot of stuff, it’s about the right, meaningful things.”

Links and Resources

Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook That Drives B2B Sales

The Curse of Knowledge by Chip and Dan Heath

Samantha’s LinkedIn:

Samantha’s website:

Show Transcript

Click to access unedited transcript

Unedited Transcript

Jim Rembach (00:00):

Okay, B2B DM gang. I’ve got somebody on the show today. Who’s now you need a hold on because she’s just full of energy. And she’s going to provide us with a lot of insights about many of the projects that she’s working on, both in client based as well as an interesting community service project that we may want to talk about. Cause I think that also may have some benefit and impact when you start thinking about your own digital marketing activities. Samantha Stone is actually also an author of unleash possible, a marketing playbook that drives sales. She is a revenue catalyst that works with fast growth B to B marketing are actually B2B software companies. Uh, and so she helps with both strategy research, persona building, you know, the things that are important and in order to make sure that you’re connecting with your customers in the most effective way, Samantha Stone, thanks for coming to the show.

Samantha Stone (00:54):

Thanks for having me. I always blush when I have somebody reads the formal bio, it sounds so big and, and um, probably more grandiose than it really is. I fundamentally come in and love working with companies to help them reach their growth strategies. And you know, those are often B2B software companies, sometimes services companies, anybody has a complex buying process. Those are the folks that we specialize in

Jim Rembach (01:19):

Well, and you know, and that’s why I want to join the show is because that’s really what, when you start talking about B to B marketing that we most focus in on, on the B2B digital marketer podcast show, because that sales cycle, you know, can be anywhere from, you know, a few months to maybe even sometimes a couple years for certain organisms, for certain organizations and certain solutions. And it’s a different path that you’d have to go down versus just, Hey, you know, I’m purchase my accounting services or something like that, right?

Samantha Stone (01:50):

Yeah. It’s a test and endurance, right.

Jim Rembach (01:53):

That’s a great, great way of explaining it. And I always talk about the whole marathon component. You know, the relationship building, uh, for me, I always joke how, even on the paid side, right, Hey, I’m trying to get more leads and stuff. And then companies, what they’ll do is, you know, put, put an ad out there and then take people straight to the whole, Hey, take a demo. I’m like, what? I mean,

Samantha Stone (02:16):

They forgot all the dating, right? They, you know, the cording part, the, you know, bill getting to know you, right beginning of this process is just getting to know that buyer and what their needs and wants and desires are and how they like to communicate. Then we get to ask you out on a date.

Jim Rembach (02:30):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. So for me, um, you told us a little, but just give us a little bit more about your background and what your real passion is in this space.

Samantha Stone (02:39):

I, you know, I care really deeply about something that is, um, completely foundational and, um, and in some ways we, we know it, but we don’t always act on it. We fundamentally care about understanding the buyer at the end of the day, everything we do in marketing, every ad, we place every piece of collateral. We create every presentation we author, every website, copyright should be about understanding our buyers and communicating there in a way that needs and communicating to the right buyers. A lot of our products and services can serve lots and lots and lots of people. And we spend so much time, particularly software companies showing the biggest market opportunity on the planet, right? We were like, we go to get funding, whether it’s a loan or venture capital money or seed money, and we have to make it this big, big, big, big opportunity.

Samantha Stone (03:31):

But the reality is we can’t go after big, big, big opportunities. We have to narrow it down to the people that we can have the most impact with. And so we spend a lot of our time, are we focused on the right people? What do they care about? How do we serve them? And then of course, once they become customers, how do we turn them into raving fans? And how do we turn them into advocates? Because we all know that customers telling our stories are far more powerful than those product data sheets that we spend a lot, a lot of time on

Jim Rembach (03:58):

Bye, Tiffany. I mean, for me, what you just said there, I also think is very foundational. I often talking about the three very important components that will impact our digital marketing it’s yes, it’s sales, it’s the marketing that we do, but it’s also that client success, you know, and, and Hey, we have them now let’s keep them and turn them into raving fans.

Samantha Stone (04:18):

You know, that’s the fundamental difference for a lot of organizations. We talk with, we, they, they get very good at getting top of funnel and they may even get good at closing business. But if we’re not good at serving business where you hit a wall and you hit a wall around your profitability, right at the end of the day, you know, we’re here to make money. W w this is, you know, I don’t generally work with companies that are nonprofits that are there for some moral things. Hopefully most of the companies that work with have a moral value proposition and they care about the people that they serve. But fundamentally, we want to make money. You cannot make money. If your product or service doesn’t deliver what it promises, and you don’t have customers who help champion it and grow. It’s, it’s an absolute must for what we have to do. And we as marketers spend too much time at the top of the funnel and not enough working and supporting the backend of that.

Jim Rembach (05:08):

I love that because for me, I always talk about that. My job on that front end is to be able to serve up, you know, a lead or an opportunity that makes it very easy for sales to close. And it really is focusing in on that entire, Hey, how do we date? How do we connect? How do we build the rapport? How do we do it? That’s what we have to really focus in on that front end.

Samantha Stone (05:31):

Absolutely. They have to understand what we do. We need to know who they are, and if we can deliver those things and help salespeople have engaged conversations and dialogue, you know, really what we’re trying to create is dialogue, not a lead. I know lead is a term we need to use because that’s how our systems track things and they’re valuable, but I’m not looking to create a lead. I’m looking to create a dialogue with people who can use our product or service. And that is a very different way of thinking. I know Jim, that you think this way, and I know lots of people do, but it’s been a long, hard, um, challenge to bring sort of our industry along to thinking this way. Um, and I’m pleased to start seeing more and more signs of it. I, you know, we have a long way to go and this isn’t easy, but I’m reassured as I start to see, um, the rise of things like account based marketing and the better integration of sales and marketing and those things are really, really important to our customers. They, they, they care a lot about them.

Jim Rembach (06:28):

I think that’s a great point because a lot of times I talk I’ll refer to, and I’ve experienced it myself as the over promising and the under-delivering.

Samantha Stone (06:36):

Yeah. I want to go the other way. Right? I want to, I want to surprise you a little bit. I want to give you what you need and convince you of that, but I also want to make sure that we’re, um, in some ways, exceeding an expectation, whether that expectation is the same level of delivery, but how we do it as different, the relationships that I’m able to build with you as special, because look, we can all build good things that people need, but you don’t create fans by being good. You create fans by doing something that is special and unique, and that may not be the offering. It may be how we deliver that offering to our customers. And that’s really critical to think about

Jim Rembach (07:12):

Most definitely. And I can tell you for me, um, I received something that was extremely gratifying, uh, not too long ago that I didn’t even realize it would be when I received it. And what I received was a, uh, uh, a thank you from a sales person with one of my clients. And I’m like for, you know, why are you thanking me? And she said, you, and the work that you have done have made it significantly easier for me to make a sale.

Samantha Stone (07:44):

Oh, he’s still my heart. That’s right. Because, you know, that’s the sales person’s perspective, but on the other side, the buyer’s also thanking you. They probably didn’t know to reach out to you and send you a note, but it’s easier for the buyer as well, right? When they understand what we do, when they understand how it aligns to their needs, where they clearly can articulate, how are we different than the alternatives they may be considering? Whereas, where are we a good fit? That’s not easy. That’s really hard. We still complex things. Right? We sell things that are hard to explain, and if you can get that right in our marketing, wow. Like that is, that is incredible. And what a, what a lovely things. And by the way, nothing better than a, than a thank you note from anyone. Right? Like my favorite moments are when I wake up and I opened my email or I get my pile of mail. And there’s a thank you note from someone in any context of my life. And, um, it’s a great Testament to making a difference.

Jim Rembach (08:36):

Oh, most definitely. Okay. So when you start talking about, and you kind of, you’ve already hit on the passion that you have for B to B, but what do you think is quite overrated when it comes to B2B digital marketing?

Samantha Stone (08:48):

That’s a really good question. There’s candidly. I think we think of the buying process is linear, right? So we always draw it. Anybody say you, somebody starts here and they do this, and then they do this and then this, and I do it too. Look, I write buyer’s journeys and they do this and they do this and they do this and then do this because we need a framework by which we can act, right. And we need some way to capture the major milestones that people move through. But the reality is nothing is linear. Nothing is precise, things, move back and forth all along the way. And I think this notion of buyer’s journey is really important and we need to do it and we need to not guess it. And you can’t just sit down with salespeople and ask what the buyer’s journey is.

Samantha Stone (09:31):

Cause they don’t see 90% of the buyer’s journey. They only see the part that interacts with them. But I think how we simplify it is overrated. We want to create these, these, um, cursory understanding of it and start looking at it from our own perspective. And that’s not enough. We need to actually dig in there and, and go deep. Um, and we need to do the hard work of understanding all of the stuff, the buyers DOE that does not include me. They’re not visiting my website. They’re not talking to a salesperson. They’re not reading my literature through. They’re having conversations. They’re building requirements, documents, they’re debating with their boss about how much they can spend. Right? All of those things that our buyers do, I’m prioritizing this over the 50 other things on their, to do list. Um, and we need to do a better job of being empathetic to that and trying to serve those other things as much as we can.

Jim Rembach (10:25):

And what you just said right there to me is the biggest friction point that I often find is that, you know, Hey, you’re your number one priority. If you’re sales, right? You have to make that sale. However, you’re not there’s. Yeah.

Samantha Stone (10:41):

Yes. I mean, look, I would love to believe that the most important part of your day to day Jim is talking to me, it’s probably not. I’m hoping you are enjoying our conversation. I certainly am. And I hopefully our listeners and viewers, well as well, but at the end of the day, we all live in this complex context. Every day something’s going right now, it’s gotten, you know, even more right. Everybody is in survival mode. In one point, you know, we’ve never gone through a point in time and the world where this type of additional anxiety and pressure and stress has affected everyone. We’ve gone through moments in time where there was a crisis. There was a floods in Texas, or there were, um, tornadoes in Thailand or tsunamis in Thailand that affected people. Or there were, um, election dis you know, disruptions in another country.

Samantha Stone (11:31):

There are points in times where things happen and we as marketers react to them right now, the thing that is happening is literally impacting every single person in the world in some way. And every single person has had stress. They may be still working. They may not be working. They may be home. They may be in an office or on a manufacturing plant floor, but they are impacted in some way, but it’s happening in the pandemic. And we, as B to B, marketers have to recognize that people have gone into survival mode, right? They may have food, they may have shelter, but mentally our brain space is survival mode. And I’m not gonna, I can’t process 18 months from now. So it has, we’ve had to change how we communicate to people. And it’s an extreme example, but the same thing is true on an individual basis, what might be happening at a company, but be happening with a person, right? We’ve all sold to someone who just had a baby, a happy moment, but guess what? They’re distracted. And no matter how much they care about their job, there’s this outside context that is in fact affecting them. And we can’t pretend that the only thing that matters to them is that job in that moment.

Jim Rembach (12:42):

So I have to ask you, when you start talking about that buyer journey, right, is that, how often are you finding yourself to have to go through a reengagement process? So like, you know, when you start talking about all these different factors and, you know, Hey, we had a reorg, Hey, we had an acquisition, Hey, my job responsibilities change. You now have a new person who you’re interacting with. All of these things happen. I mean, so when you start talking about the buyer journey, how often do you see that come into play?

Samantha Stone (13:11):

Well, more often than not. So two of the most successful, short term revenue campaigns that I, that my clients run or that I was in house for a lot of years before I launched the marketing advisory network, nine years ago, two of the most successful campaigns that consistently perform to drive short term revenue boosts. It’s not necessarily as a closed loss campaign. People that we actually lost to whether they bought someone else or they didn’t buy anything. And we considered them out of our pipeline and pipeline acceleration programs that look at people who might be stalled at a particular stage and try and move them forward. Something has happened in both of those instances where we have lost some level of engagement with folks. And so always there is, um, in these complex buying processes where multiple people are making a decision, we’ve got to reengage and we have to build strategies into our marketing that is constantly reengaging.

Samantha Stone (14:10):

And re-engaging, by the way, isn’t just marketing. How do we help support sales in their reengagement? How do we help customers account management? Re-engage how do we reengage with our executives? In what ways? Sometimes it’s engaging because we’re at, I mean, we’re not at physical events right now, but under normal circumstances, we would be so sometimes an engagement isn’t about us, you know, sending about one where out of physical event, how do we reengage the people we lost touch with that are so happened to be there, right? So how do we create opportunities for people to say yes, to talking with us and dialoguing with us? And that’s absolutely critical to supporting long buying processes that months, weeks, sometimes to your point Jim years.

Jim Rembach (14:56):

Most definitely. So I think when you start talking about everything that is so chaotic at the moment, there are opportunities for some, you know, stability, consistency that are going to add value. So when you start looking at I’m here right now today, and I call this our new reality. I mean, I’m sorry, we’re going to have many cycles closer and closer to the things that we’re experiencing right now. It’s not, you know, I think if you go back to the H one N one that was a few years, a few years ago, you had the Bola issue. That was, and so what’s going to start happening is these events are going to happen more often. Um, we’re getting more globalized. I mean, we’re interacting more as an entire species. Um, we’re doing all kinds of other things as far as even creating radicals that maybe infusing some things. I mean, there’s just a whole lot, that’s not even getting into the whole natural disaster thing. So it’s our new reality, but there’s opportunities for us to stand out. Um, and I talk about, you know, Hey, what do I, what can I do in order to be a disruptor? So in your mind, what do you think a BTB digital marketer can do right now to maybe disrupt things and stand out?

Samantha Stone (16:07):

Yeah. One of the important things we have to do is figure out what we stand for. There’s a lot going on. We haven’t even talked about in America, the call for racial justice and getting rid of racism and the rise of the me too movement and all of these things, right? So we’ve sort of been, I’ve been talking about the pandemic and how sort of health crisis affects things. Talk a little bit about natural disasters could have a similar impact, but we also have these social movements that are happening. Every company doesn’t need to have something to say about a social movement, but every company does need to understand what it stands for and every company needs to live those values. So for me, sure, there’s parts of marketing that are disrupting people writing to get in front of people. So they see my message and we’ve got to be sensitive about how and where and why we do that.

Samantha Stone (16:52):

But none of that matters if we don’t really know our, our bigger meaning, our bigger calling, what are we trying to achieve and what are we trying to do? And how do we live those values in every interaction we have, and right now is the perfect opportunity to take a moment and pause and say, we all have some value chart. That’s on some poster in the cafeteria. And in, you know, in offices, we probably had meetings where we rolled it up, but take a step back. What do they really mean to us? And how do we really interact with that? And how do we take a moment to be real? One of the things that I hope stays after everything that we’ve been going through right now is customers are in fact more empathetic to businesses as well. They actually want to help businesses survive and thrive.

Samantha Stone (17:39):

They understand that we might not be able to deliver an overnight delivery of something like we did before. They know that they might have to leave a voicemail instead of a live person, picking up a phone for a customer support question, because they know that when they talk to somebody, they might have a little kids running around in the background or dogs barking or whatever’s going on. And so empathy goes both ways. Empathy goes to our customers and we as marketers, myself included, spent almost all of our time talking about that. But, you know, you’ve won when your customers and your buyers and your community are empathetic to you. And this is the opportunity. We have to be really clear about who we are, what we stand for and what we are as people. So we can build that kind of bi-directional empathy with our customers, because that’s what this is about building. And yes, they make rational business decisions, but we need an emotional connection to transfer from being a transaction, to being a, a partner and someone that they want to advocate for. And that is really hard, um, and really, really challenging, but completely doable. And we have the opportunity to do that. And we’ve seen lots and lots of companies model that behavior for us, and we have this great chance to stand up and, um, and leverage those models and to do some of that work ourselves.

Jim Rembach (18:58):

So I start thinking about, wow, we’ve had it a lot of different aspects of that buyer journey. Um, and it definitely has to align with how we set up our systems. And certainly it also has to align with where we’re investing in putting all of our effort. Now, when you start thinking about where we are today, um, and looking at maybe the beginning of the year, I have the same budget, maybe even less than I have to work with now because of revenues, numbers have been impacted. But if I was to say, I w I should think about reallocating investments from one place to another, where do you think you’d make that shift? Where do you want to invest more in right now with the same budget?

Samantha Stone (19:37):

That’s a really good question. I do want to, I’m going to answer that. I promise, but I do want to come make one comment on something you said, you know, we have to align around our systems. That is true, but one of the big mistakes I see companies making is if we can’t take all the manual steps out and we can’t, um, and we can’t scale it in an automated way, we tend to be afraid of doing it. There are things that are worth doing that require manual intervention that are imperfect. The system can’t do for us in these, particularly in these complex sales processes. And we have entire groups of people called salespeople to actually execute those manual steps for us. And we, as marketers need to do a better job of being okay with not being able to scale something and being okay with something being manual, because that’s how we built connections.

Samantha Stone (20:23):

So having said that, you know, look, physical events are not going to happen for the rest of the year. So whatever money we were spending on them, we have the opportunity to think about how can I create a better digital experience for someone. Some of that might be an investing in virtual events, which by the way, are not inexpensive to do well. If you want interactivity, if you want to create the proxy for networking, if you want to treat it like as bi-directional and not just to push communication, you have to invest in doing that. But I’m a big believer. This is an opportunity for us to take a moment to do that. I also think there’s an opportunity for us to take a step back and think about content. We often tend to be thinking about content as volume, how much stuff can I get out?

Samantha Stone (21:03):

I want to create a lot of things. I need a steady cadence in theory. That’s true. But actually, if you go back and you look at what matters in buying processes and what matters and changing the trajectory of campaigns, it’s always one or two really meaningful pieces. It’s always like this. There’s a, there’s a couple things that get shared a lot. There’s a couple things that really move the way a reader or watcher thinks. And so we need to take this moment to pause and say, what is that? What can I bring to the world that my buyers care about right now that is deep and important and changes the way somebody thinks about something and kind of throw out that editorial calendar right now, because people don’t need 16 blog posts right now in their life. They just, don’t, they’re busy, they’re exhausted. They’re working from home, or maybe they’re in an office and their anxiety is up because everybody’s wearing a mask and they’ve got barriers.

Samantha Stone (21:56):

And they’re standing far apart with, you know, all these things are affecting us. So we need to take the moment and say, it’s not about a lot of stuff. It’s about the right meaningful things. And it’s, it may take us longer to create those. It may be something we can’t whip out quickly. That’s okay. Now, just to listeners, don’t get confused. I’m not advocating, stopping short form things. I’m not saying don’t have some cadence. I’m just saying this is a perfect moment in time to pause and really think about what you can make a significant and meaningful difference for your community.

Jim Rembach (22:32):

You know, as you were saying that I find, uh, oftentimes what happens is people move on to the next thing. And what I mean by that is, so if I’m talking about just the blog post example, um, you know, I take an, I do that blog post, I move on to the next thing and we don’t think about chunking. And so it’s like, Hey, I had something. It was very impactful. Instead, I need to think about repurposing. And that creates all those little micro, you know, type of content components and elements, but it’s going back to that piece that was impactful. So I find that people oftentimes just spin their wheels, creating content and getting into that spiral of just cranking things out and not really seeing and taking advantage of the things that did have the impact.

Samantha Stone (23:16):

You know, the biggest thing we could do is actually ask people their opinion before we publish something. So I’m not talking about a small blog post or a social post, but when you have a meaningful chunk of content that you’re producing, you know, I don’t know about you, Jim, but I’ve been part of some pretty lengthy internal review cycles where we’d sometimes have eight, 10, 15 people internally reviewing and providing input. I’m not writing for those people. So sure. I get that. We have to have an internal workflow and a process. And some of those people are, but we actually ask the people it’s for go. I don’t care. If you ask to go find two people that you’re creating this content for and tell them, does this meaningful to you, did it answer questions that are important to you? What’s missing? Do you care? Like just go, you know, like even little, little samples of our actual buyers make a big difference on that piece of content ability to actually have an impact.

Jim Rembach (24:09):

I love that you said that one of the things I often find that I want to just say, but I can’t, uh, is when you people do review something internally and they start giving you this feedback, and I want to say, you know what? I don’t care about your opinion.

Samantha Stone (24:24):

I don’t quite say I don’t care, but I do often try and point out. We might make it, you know, we might be suffering from like these common denominator syndrome, right. Where like, you know, that’s not really the buyer’s voice, right? I mean, I’m sure Jim, you do the same thing. We get really good at the proxy for it doesn’t matter what you think, what matters is the person that we’re writing this for. And, um, that is, that is it really channeling thing for us to do as marketers is to balance, you know, our point of view and expressing our point of view to the world and understanding what the person who’s going to be consuming that content needs and wants from that.

Jim Rembach (25:01):

Yeah. It’s like, you’re not your customer.

Samantha Stone (25:04):

Right? Right. And, you know, look, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve worked for one or two companies where we were actually very much the persona of the person that we’re going, but most of us sell stuff that we don’t use. Most of us sell stuff that is, um, purchased from a very different person than ourselves. And we all do it. It is in our nature. You cannot help, but bring yourself to things that you review. Um, no matter how hard we try. So we have to do the research. We have to understand them. Number one. And then we have to practice putting ourselves in that lens. And it’s hard. I know that this is easier said than done.

Jim Rembach (25:37):

Most definitely. That’s one of the most, one of them, to me, it’s one of the most challenging elements, quite frankly. Um, and so chip and Dan Heath, uh, our authors, they wrote a book called made to stick. Um, and they’ve wrote, they’ve written a couple of others, but in that book, they introduced the curse of knowledge. And everybody is impacted by that whole curse of knowledge. It’s lot, especially when you’re starting to talk about a lot of the solution providers and service providers into the B2B space, because they’re experts in what they do and what they know and the products and services they created. However, being able to convey that to your target is, has to be done differently.

Samantha Stone (26:12):

Yeah. You know, it’s funny, you can’t see it. But, um, if I look to my left, there is that book on my shelf. Um, it’s a great book. I actually highly recommend it. Um, we, we have to understand it. And also we have to understand that, like we have to bring people, it took us years of building, whatever it is that we sell. And we, it took us years to get to this level of extra expertise about it. Right. And we have to remember, not only does our audience have a different point of view, they haven’t been there for this whole trail. Right. We also sometimes actually had this conversation yesterday with a client. We were creating a bunch of content. They said, Oh, this is getting boring. I’m like, timeout, you read 15 pieces of our content this week. I promise you not a single person that we’re marketing to has read anywhere near 15 pieces of our content this week.

Samantha Stone (26:57):

Right. So, no, we don’t want to be repetitive for repetitive statements. Think about, have all these pieces fit together. But we also have to recognize that our buyers don’t read our content in the order, by which we produce it. They don’t read it in concentrated times all together. They’re going to forget things we can’t say in paper three. Well, we take that out because we talked about that in paper. One, the people reading papers three don’t remember if they read paper one and often didn’t even see it. So, um, we, those are the things that we have to train ourselves to recognize and to try and take that step back. And it’s hard because the more we do, the more familiar we are with what we’re creating and it’s, it is a interesting step, which is why external people or people outside marketing should be reviewing content because they have a lens that, um, we as content creators can’t provide, we’re just too close to it.

Jim Rembach (27:48):

Most definitely. Okay. So let’s pull off the rains. Okay. Let’s pull off the constraints, right? So you have now a wealth of budget and resources to do whatever the heck you wanted to do. Right. Where would you invest?

Samantha Stone (28:00):

Oh, it’s impossible for me to answer that question because, um, um, well, here’s what I can tell you how I would make the decision about where to invest. So I would, um, look at my marketing, um, metrics at a very detailed level. I would look at three things I would look at, um, of the leads that are coming in. What, how are we converting to the next stage in our buying process, whether that’s a meeting a demo, it could be a variety of things. So what I would look at that, I would look at the length of time, it’s taking to move across the various stages of our buying process. So, you know, from demo to proposal, how long does that take, right? There’s, you know, whatever that process looks like for your product or service, how long between steps. And I would look at our goals as a business and how much, you know, we’re trying to do, whether it’s a profitability, primary goal, whether it’s more revenue growth, whether we’re trying to go after a new segments or whatever that strategic important business value is.

Samantha Stone (28:55):

And I would look at how are we performing? I would look at, um, then how do we, um, where are we stuck? Where are there, where are there places that we are struggling to move people? And I would put a lot of my attention on that. I’ll never tell somebody that, you know, Hey, um, take all your event money and move it to digital advertising. Almost never. Will that be the right thing to do? Is it likely that I’m going to move some shore, right. But we need to look holistically at how we are surrounding customers, you know, and we need to think about that. We also need to think about practical things right now, if you have a heavy, direct mail, um, strategy, um, which I believe in, by the way, I think direct mail can be meaningful and impactful at the right ways in the right places for B2B complex, long sales cycles.

Samantha Stone (29:43):

A lot of our buyers are not in their office. A lot of our buyers are not in wherever it is that they go to work right now. And I don’t where it’s going to send, sit on their desk. Like, so what do we do with that? So for me, I need to better understand the business and what we’re trying to achieve, but we do need to very much understand what we can’t do right now. Physical events, direct mail, the way we were going to do it. We have to reallocate things. And the closer I can get to creating a personalized dialogue with my buyers. That’s what I want to invest in. So maybe I keep doing the same, um, uh, placements for contents indication, for example, but what I might invest in creating some different kind of content, that’s going to be much more impactful and meaningful than what I’ve pushed there before, or maybe I’m going to increase the number of places that my advertisements are performing, or maybe I’m going to invest more heavily and really rethink my website and invest in how my website works.

Samantha Stone (30:41):

Or maybe I don’t really have an effective nurturing strategy. And I need to put some time and money and energy into that. So I can’t say prescriptively, this is the lever to push, but I can tell you, you have to look at that conversions along the way, find your bottlenecks, find the places where your stock and try and unstick those. The other thing is find, what’s working, find the people that you are successful with and look for the patterns. What makes it different? Did they consume certain types of content that others didn’t? Did we, um, are they a different kind of buyer? Do they, do we have clusters of success in one industry or one roll of people we target more than others. So maybe we’d find, Hey, people like this, don’t have double Proverbs in conversion. I’m going to go find more people like that. And I’m going to put that extra investment and finding more people like that. So it’s, um, it’s understanding that process very, very deeply.

Jim Rembach (31:38):

Okay. So one of the questions I ask is what do you think, you know, a digital B to B marketers, um, you know, really have to be asking themselves. And the reality is, I think you just ripped off about 10 questions.

Samantha Stone (31:52):

Yeah. You know, look, this isn’t easy. And, you know, we had to really take a look at our websites, you know, for the most part B to B websites are pretty awful. They’re beautiful these days, right? Because the technology that builds the infrastructure has been, um, much, much better. They’re rich and content because we all believe that it’s rich in content. We’re really lousy at creating dialogue. We throw a forum up all day long in front of people. And I do believe in this conversation of marketing, like drift is just one example of a company that enables it. But they did a really good job of saying like, don’t do forms to have conversations and we really need to do better at that in the B to B world, we need to have interactivity. We need to have a way to engage people. Look, people learn in multiple ways.

Samantha Stone (32:35):

Some people are auditory. Some people are visual. Some people are, have to do, but we were still too much push them through a form, push them, throw a form, push them through a form. And I get it. We want to know who’s consuming our stuff so we can follow up. But really what we want is we want people to come to us and think of us as an expert. So sure. We’ve got to capture some information, but we have a lot of control about how we capture that information and we’re not doing a good job. So if we could invest in technology and we can invest in infrastructure, to me, it would be about those places that we interact with those community and doing a much better job of making it feel like a relationship instead of putting up things that feel like barriers.

Jim Rembach (33:22):

Well, I think that’s a great point. So for me, what I’m finding more success in and more interested in is like interactive video, where it’s not just the push of a video. We’re actually people in a, where are some more of the sophisticated type types of, uh, um, you know, dial dialogue processes where people are actually giving you input and information about what their needs and desires and wants are. And then you’re actually taking that. And you’re automating that process. There’s more and more that that’s becoming available. And where I find a lot of my work going,

Samantha Stone (33:53):

I’m a big fan of video. I’m also a big fan of things like this. Like, why don’t you take a podcast or a video interview series or other things and talk to your buyers, right? Like it doesn’t every touch we have, doesn’t have to be about us and selling something. We’re just trying to build relationships with people. And if you’ve got a multi month or multi-year sales cycle, you’re going to have to talk about something other than yourself, because we’re going to get bored pretty quickly just talking about what we do. So we’ve got to provide those opportunities for people to engage and be real with each other and be human and acknowledge where we are. I also think that we as B2B marketers, don’t use enough of things like review sites that are out there, right? There’s these people who are talking about what their needs are, there’s these rich opportunities to see what they’re searching for.

Samantha Stone (34:36):

And we’re not fully utilizing those mechanisms to try and find people that we can serve. And it’s time for us to get a little bit more creative about that. And I get a little bit, again, it’s not about scale. A lot of the reasons I actually did a research project where I interviewed a whole bunch of people about B2B review sites and as marketers and how they’re using them and where they’re not. And one of the problems that can becoming is it’s not enough volume. The people that I meet are great, but I need six times as many. I’m like, why do you need six times? If these things convert a 10 times the rate of other things, I understand the desire to find things that are big, but we’ve got to stop, always looking for that. How do I scale it and how do I automate it and find the ways to engage. And sometimes that’s at small volume and sometimes that’s with a manual step that doesn’t mean we can’t scale and grow and other things, but we’ve got to find that balance better.

Jim Rembach (35:29):

Well, I think what you bring up though is oftentimes that pressure from outside of other words, you need to bring me more leads, need to bring me more leads, looking at the quality and the conversion aspect. Yeah.

Samantha Stone (35:41):

And whenever somebody says that, I look at them and I tell them, no, I don’t. I need to bring you more opportunities. The number of leads only matters because we have a math formula that we’ve created going down the path. And I could deliver you a thousand leads that generates 10 opportunities are going to do a hundred that generates 10, which do you want? I’d rather spend more and do the a hundred because I’m more efficient through the rest of the process. And I’m focused on the buyers who really really care, but those are hard discussions to have, right? That’s, that’s a, that’s a, um, our inclination is my need my business to grow. I need more at the top, but really what we need to be looking at. Sure. We may need some more at the top, but we also need to do a better job of moving people across the relationship with us.

Samantha Stone (36:22):

Because at the end, if those customers have really cared about us and we’ve moved them all the way through and they, they they’ve known us for months. We think about this. We as B2B, marketers are really lucky because our customers aren’t. We always talk about how hard it is, but think about the benefit of this. They are not impulse buying. We are building a multi month relationship with people that is way stickier than when I go into a store and I grab a cupcake off the shelf because Ooh, that looks good. And I’m hungry. I have no brand. As you know, I have no loyalty to that. It’s got loyalty and I’ve got investment. I’ve put months into deciding the solution that I’m going to choose. I’ve invested a lot. And I care a lot about that. That’s a gift to us as B to B marketers, and we need to do a better job of receiving that gift.

Jim Rembach (37:10):

Now, Samantha, I have, I’ve had a blast with you. Can you let the B to B digital marketing gang know how to get in touch with you?

Samantha Stone (37:18):

Yeah, absolutely. So, um, I’m on LinkedIn and very active there. Um, so please people should feel free to reach out to me there. Um, you can also visit marketing advisory and we’ve got tons of resources. And I think there’s almost nothing that has a form in front of it. I really believe in just sort of, you know, sort of eating my own words and living that. Um, the only time we really do a form is if somebody is registering for an event, because we need to be able to do ongoing communications about logistics, otherwise take it. There’s tons of great stuff there. I hope people use it, go to the resource section and, um, they’ll see lots of things that are the lessons that we’ve learned over the years that we want to make sure help marketers get better and better

Jim Rembach (37:58):

Samantha Stone. We appreciate you sharing your knowledge and wisdom, and we wish you the very best. Thanks for having me.