How To Get Creative With Your B2B Marketing | It’s Not Magic. It’s Marketing with Shama.

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Shama Hyder:

Hey, hey, I think we’re live now. Steph, we live?

Stephanie Chavez:

Um…

Shama Hyder:

I believe so. [Inaudible 00:00:13]. Cool. Hey everybody. Welcome, welcome. Give folks a chance to settle in. It’s always interesting to me to see where most people join, because this is live streamed across platforms. I think we have a reach of over a million folks, and I know some of you tune in live through LinkedIn, through Facebook. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, so we can go live on Twitter spaces, at least the audio in coming weeks. So, that’ll be fun and then of course, so many of you listen to it later on the podcast. If you’ve missed earlier episodes, feel free to check them out on Spotify, Apple podcasts, different… yeah, wherever you like to get your podcast feed, you can check this out.

Shama Hyder:

As usual, this is your host Shama Hyder, CEO of Zen Media and they’ve got with me, the lovely, the wonderful Miss Stephanie Chavez here who handles more in a day than I think most people do in a month. Thanks Steph for joining me on this, and Steph is the one that looks out for your questions and feeds them to me. And I do my best to answer as many as I can. That was the purpose of starting this. It’s not magic, it’s marketing live. So, you could ask your question. I’m so glad that you were here with us, wherever in the world that you’re joining from. Welcome, welcome today’s topic. Generally, if you’re new to this, this is how it goes. I tell you about the tea that I’m drinking. Look, my Steph I am repping zen today. Are you proud? I’ve got the…

Stephanie Chavez:

You are, I’m very proud.

Shama Hyder:

The team I feel like always gives me slack for not repping zen more. I’ve got my background. I got my mug, and you’ll really love this Steph. I just was at this event for Vogues supporting designers from Latin America, and these girls had these… which I’m sucker for women entrepreneurs. They had such cool chains in gold. I got ZEN, and they’re going to…

Stephanie Chavez:

Nice, nice.

Shama Hyder:

[Inaudible 00:02:37]. Yes, it’s very, very exciting. For those of you who don’t know and new to the show, yes, so I tell you about the tea I’m drinking, and it’s always tea. I don’t drink alcohol. It’s always some sort of beverage, hot beverage usually. Today, it’s just this thing called throat tea by traditional medicines because as you can might be able to hear, my voice is giving just a little bit after being on a lot of calls today it seems like. We do that, and then I riff on a topic. I talk about something that I think will be valuable to you guys, and then we open it up to your questions. So, that’s how the game goes. Let’s start by talking about a movie, shall we?

Shama Hyder:

The topic for today is why is there so little creativity in B2B? Literally, the amount of memes around the B and B2B doesn’t stand for boring are exponential, okay. This isn’t like one person’s take. I think it’s fairly established that B2B companies do not pursue… their marketing campaigns are not nearly as exciting, as cool, as fun, as engaging. We care about engaging because at the end of the day, engaging is what’s profitable. Okay. I think we can all agree, B2B is at its worst stale and at its best, just plain vanilla. I started thinking about why is that, and so many of these episodes stem from a question, right? One of the questions that I did get was, why do you think B2B generally tends to be a little bit… at least very nice, a little bit boring.

Shama Hyder:

I think it’s very boring compared to some of the other campaigns that we see, and I got to thinking about this. And the first thing that I ruled out, which I like to look for patterns and at Zen Media, we work with B2B clients. We have hundreds of clients. We use so much data, both quantitative and qualitative from leaders well, what’s working. I mean we get to see inside, outside, upside down campaigns. I thought what can I absolutely rule out? What is not causing a lack of creativity, and that was hands down the talent. Having worked with oh my goodness, hundreds of companies at this point, thousands maybe if you just include people and leaders and so forth and the speaking side of things, I can tell you that some of the most creative folks I have met are actually in the B2B space, creative smart marketers.

Shama Hyder:

I knew it wasn’t like a lack of talent. It’s not like oh, B2B just attracts more boring people, because I didn’t find that to be fundamentally true. I could rule that out. And then I started thinking about a few things and what causes a lack of creativity, and how I think we got here in the B2B world. One of the biggest things I think has been misaligned incentives, all right. Back to my movie reference, I just saw Top Gun Maverick. Steph is just dying to tell you about her. Okay Steph, tell us, what did you think of the movie?

Stephanie Chavez:

I loved the movie. I mean it was somewhat predictable, but the jets, I love the jets. It’s my dream to fly in a fighter jet. It was just amazing. It was great to see the gang all back together again, and it was just incredible.

Shama Hyder:

Uh-huh and no spoilers. If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry, we’re not giving anything away. We’re not telling you who dies or doesn’t die. I’m terrible. I’m just kidding guys, there’s no spoilers. No spoiler alert. Don’t worry, you don’t have to fast forward through this part, but it is a great movie. Steph is a huge fan. Did you wear a costume? I did see people at the theater in full top gun get up.

Stephanie Chavez:

No, I was going to order some shirts for us, but I didn’t have time, but I’m going to get one, going to get one.

Shama Hyder:

And it’s been a while. I don’t think we’d been in the theater, right? I think this was one of the first movies that we went to go see and Steph as you know, Patrick my husband is a big fan as well of aviation and in general. I mean this guy flies World War II planes in VR with a squadron. It’s a whole different level of his passion, but look, I’m not a huge aviation background. I’m not a huge aviation fan, but I thought the movie was really good. I mean I liked it. I thought it was a solid movie. I thought it had great characters, and the thing that stood out for me which the original release of Top Gun was in 1986. This one broke box office records, did really well. The original movie came out in ’86.

Shama Hyder:

And as I did my research, I found that after the movie came out, the navy saw 500% increase in applicants. So, huge recruiting effort for the Navy and Steph, isn’t Jason a Navy man?

Stephanie Chavez:

He is, yes.

Shama Hyder:

Yeah. What did he serve as again? By the way, Jason is Steph’s husband and he does regala sometimes with stories of him being in the Navy.

Stephanie Chavez:

Yes, he was a boat… I don’t know how to say it, Boatswain’s mate in the Persian Gulf War.

Shama Hyder:

Well, we thank him for his service, and I just thought yeah, this is awesome. Of course, this time around, the US Navy set up shop outside inside movie theaters. Right outside your cinema hall, you had different recruitment bases and I thought that was great. In fact, even the air force wanted in on the action, because they figured maybe some folks out there are confused whatever. Aviation is aviation, let’s get this up and going. Even they set up cam trying to recruit new cadets and look, the marketer in me thought this was brilliant, right? You’ve got an interested audience, positively charged emotions. And it’s a very inspiring… that is a great piece of content marketing for them.

Shama Hyder:

That’s the best, best content marketing, courtesy of Hollywood for the US military in general I think. It was very smart, and I thought this is so brilliant. Look at all the play they’re getting not just like at the actual event, but on social media because of course, people are taking pictures and sharing it. And look, how often do recruitment camps get their pictures posted on social, right? They don’t. This works well on so many levels. And I was just thinking if this was a B2B company, I think this is how the conversation would go, because the boss would be like, “How many cadets did we sign up from that activation, because we’re looking at attribution software and says they all came from Google.”

Shama Hyder:

And these poor marketer is probably like, “Yeah, because we introduced them to the program there, but then they went home. They talked to their parents hope, and they typed the website into Google. That’s how everybody finds things.” Google used to be the starting point for things and now really, it’s a gateway. I actually as the marketer always hurts my heart a little when I type in a company, the specific name or even the URL and what Google serves me up is their ad first. And I’m like, “Come on, you know that I’m like an organics.” The marketer in me always scrolls down just a little bit past. I go to the organic link, because I don’t want to cost them per click, but I always just think like, “Gee Google, you think you can get any worse here?”

Shama Hyder:

Anyway, so back to kind by the scenario that I was playing out and of course, then the boss would say, “So, we don’t have a definitive attributable ROI here?” And to which the market is like, “I mean we do, right? Our branded searches and applications skyrocketed after the activation.” And then the boss of course goes, “Yes, but we can’t know that it was this activation.” And then our poor marketer in this scenario goes, “Well, we could simply ask them.” And then of course the boss says, “Well, let’s not get crazy here Bob. That’s not crazy talk.” And one of the things that I’m a big fan of is just talking to your customers, asking them how did they find you, what was the impulse that led them to buy.

Shama Hyder:

And we know what this happens in the messy middle, and I’ll talk a little bit more about that as I have in the past, but I do think that’s how if an activation like that was happening in B2B, that’s how it would play out. Now, let’s forward maybe two weeks later or a month later, the marketer says, “We ran a paid ad campaign to collect email addresses for a gated eBook, and we spent 250 grand, and got 800 leads.” And all of a sudden, they had a great job, right? Eight hundred leads, fantastic. And of course meanwhile, sales is looking at this going, “Who the F are these people? They don’t want to talk to me? They’re not actually interested in our services. They’re definitely not closing,” but I think what’s interesting is closing becomes a sales problem, not a marketing problem.

Shama Hyder:

And marketing in B2B is constantly focused on contacts, on leads, on that’s what gets rewarded. I think that’s a key reason we don’t have creativity. Because if you can’t connect those dots, like A to B and it doesn’t work that way because people don’t buy like that anymore. That’s my first reason of why I think that there’s a real lack of creativity in B2B. And it’s because it’s not rewarded. There’s no great fanfare. There’s no like, “Wow, that was amazing. Look at all these publications talking about it, look at all the kudos we’re getting.” It’s just leads, leads, leads and a little blindly, but I think this has to change. In B2B, so much of what’s rewarded is not creativity. It’s consensus, it’s contacts.

Shama Hyder:

And that’s getting harder and harder, because this is not how modern buyers buy. A lot of what B2B marketers do today, it’s because at some point historically, those strategies did work, all right. It’s not like they’ve just come out of the gate with this. No, if you were in 2006, 2007, cool, some of these things, you had fairly good success with. Setting up a huge ad campaign and driving traffic to a gated landing page, yeah, it worked. It still works to some degree, and here’s the thing. I just want to set the record straight, people think I’m… or they often ask me, “Are you against advertising because you guys do so much earned media, or gated content?” No, look, I think everything has a place and a time.

Shama Hyder:

I just think there’s a huge over reliance on the things that are measurable, but not really meaningful, right? Things that don’t actually move the needle, but hey, the numbers look good on paper and they look like they’re going up, so that’s what we care about. The other day on LinkedIn, someone shared how they thought cold calling was dead and it was just such a terrible strategy or whatnot. And I responded, and I was chuckling because literally the day before, I had purchased something, a high ticket service from someone who completely cold pitched me. Why? Timing was right. I was in the market for that. I’d been trying to solve it a few ways. I hadn’t really stumbled on anything I really liked.

Shama Hyder:

Two, after they pitched me, I didn’t just respond and say, “Great, sign me up. Let’s get on that call.” I did what any sane person does. I Googled. I Googled them. I looked at their track record. I looked at who are these guys. I looked up their LinkedIn profiles. Yeah, I looked at who they worked with, and I recognized a couple of folks from the industry. And I thought, “Okay, cool, their case studies made sense. What they did make sense.” And then I said, “Yeah, let’s talk.” And they were able to close me in one call, because timing was right, the need was right. Their pitch to me by the way I have to say was very personalized. The gentleman that pitched me had spent a lot of time looking at my videos.

Shama Hyder:

I mean I could clearly tell he’d invested the time in doing his research. So, that alone puts you in the top 10% of cold pitch emails, and then everything else just fell into place. I just want to say this again, I don’t think there’s a bad strategy. I think there’s bad execution of certain strategies, but no, is there a time where gated worked? Sure. Do I consider that to be a qualified lead? No, not so much. It’s just someone who’s interested, which is fine. Here’s what I really want you to understand, right? About the average B2B buyer, that has changed so completely. Before, sales used to be their first step. If you’re interested in something, you get on the phone with the salesperson.

Shama Hyder:

You ask their opinion for something, because the internet didn’t exist or even if it did, it was in such a nascent stage that you couldn’t just get the information that you wanted like this. You had to talk to these reps, they controlled the information. That’s not true now, right? And the sales reps do not control the information. It’s out there, they can find it. They don’t need you for it. What they’re doing is the majority of that sales process, that buying process is happening before they find you. According to Forrester by the way, Forrester Research, buyers are 90% of the way through their buying journey before they ever talk to sales. Meaning, they’re doing their homework.

Shama Hyder:

They’re not talking to a sales rep until they’re good and ready. And if you try to force that process, that’s really going to bite you. Steph, I know you have such a deep background in events and trade show and in trade show marketing. Did you see that when you were in the trade show industry of people? Because I remember I feel like 10 years ago, more and more people wanted to talk to a rep right away. But I feel like in the last few years, that really shifted.

Stephanie Chavez:

Yeah, it shifted a lot. With COVID and everything, events went by the wayside and then there was virtual. And everyone has had to pivot and change their marketing strategies, and have more online. And people you’re right, they do a lot of research online. They look online, just like our model that we base all of our marketing on is that messy middle, where there’s people are researching. And basically, they’re closed and then the sales, by the time they get to your site, they’re already convinced, right? And then the salesperson just has to close them at the end. It’s definitely changed the whole marketing landscape really.

Shama Hyder:

Yeah. Thanks for that Steph. Yeah, I think what you said was so interesting was that I think COVID, the pandemic, it all accelerated some of the things that we’ve already been seeing. Here’s what then that means for B2B buyers, right? The self-paced independent buyer is not going to be sold by sales. They’ll be pre-sold by marketing in PR. They need to sell themselves. It’s such a distinction, but I think it’s such an important one because yes, you are still “selling them or convincing them” or whatnot, but you have to come at it from a different perspective. It’s not going to be someone they’re talking to on the phone with, and then they go through that general sales process.

Shama Hyder:

By the time they are reaching out to sales or actually really want to talk to sales, they’re way ahead in that process. I mean at this point, they’re 90% through. And I will say this, I’ve never met a salesperson who says, “Boy, you know, I just wish I had to work harder for that sale.” None. Now, you hear the other thing a lot which says, “Boy, I wish our marketing was better, so we could set close easier.” But again, look at misaligned incentives, it’s not that difficult to see why marketing doesn’t care about closed sales or revenue, because they’re not really judged on that, right? They’re really judged on leads, leads, leads. It’s a very different mindset.

Shama Hyder:

Look, the modern B2B buyer is engaging very differently. They’re talking to peers on Slack. They’re listening to influencers on podcasts. They’re reading articles and trusted publications. They’re messaging for referrals and LinkedIn DMs. Just this week alone, I made two referrals through LinkedIn DMs. And I received four referrals through LinkedIn DM. Not through the website, not through anything else, just all through LinkedIn, which I think is fine and very much the future. Now, what I think this means also by the way is that the actually wins the business, the brand that wins the business is the one that has the most exposure and street cred. It’s what are people saying about you and your company when you’re not in the room, and this is why thought leadership matters.

Shama Hyder:

This is why building trust matters, and this is the model that Steph was alluding to earlier. And you can actually go to the homepage of Zen Media if you want to see it. Our creative director, Ayla actually put together the visual and she did such a great job. We’re calling it the dark social model. Look, dark social is not a new term. It’s been around for ages. I’ve been talking about it since 2016, but it seems to have caught on fire more lately, so great. And I’ve talked before about how even social and media are split. Media is where we consume information, it’s things we listen to. It might be complete strangers. We follow on Instagram or TikTok or whatnot, where social is much more the core, the people we trust.

Shama Hyder:

Actually, I’ve been reading a couple of cool articles and Steph, this might be a good, good angle for Oliver to talk about for us to talk about, but it’s this more and more people are getting jobs through Slack channels, because that’s where these conversations are happening. And I think that’s really cool, but it makes sense. And today, I thought it was so interesting that we’re doing a focus group for one of our clients. And I saw what Ali posted in their stuff in our Slack chat. We were looking for participants for this focus group, specifically for folks in health coaches, dietitians. And someone on our leadership, his wife happens to be a dietitian. We shared the link with her.

Shama Hyder:

Of course, she took that link and shared in a Facebook group for dietitians, and we had 20 responses or 20 sign ups in seven minutes for the focus group, which is really cool, but it was just another example of dark social at work, where the way people are making decisions they’re happening in these internal communities and groups. The internet’s a big place now. It used to be like I would say like a little village, and now the internet’s a big city. People have their little boroughs, they have their little communities. And that’s really where you want to engage with them, and make sure that that’s where they’re finding you. And it’s not always going to be through your messaging, but much more what other people are saying from press, to influencers, to peers.

Shama Hyder:

Anyway, we call this the dark social model and it’s based on a lot of research we’ve done obviously and things we see with our clients. But also more and more, it’s layered through with Google spending millions of dollars and years of research on how people buy. Generally, there’s a trigger moment, something that gets someone to say, “I need to buy something, right? I have a problem, I need a solution. Maybe it’s a CRM, maybe it’s a new banking platform, whatever. They’ve got a need, they need solved.” And then as they go through exploration which is broad, they’re exploring different options and they’re evaluating. They’re exploring is broadening.

Shama Hyder:

They might say they might have 10 solutions, or the thing I think about is when you have 15 tabs open for something, that’s exploration. And then evaluation is when they start closing those tabs, or they come down with maybe two or three, make their short list. Meanwhile, what’s happening as they’re getting and really bombarded, but they’re getting all this content is this mix of they’re getting content from owned, earned, paid, shared. And what this means is they might be consuming content from your website, so your content marketing, but they’re also reading third parties, or earned media. They’re looking at social channels, their ads. Look, advertising works.

Shama Hyder:

I don’t know why people think that… you know what, I’m going to do a whole nother I think episode on just advertising and my take on it, because I think it’s gotten to be such a bad word like, “Oh, no, we don’t want to advertise.” It’s like of course, it works. You just have to do it right and again, it just plays one role in the much greater puzzle. Now, as this is happening, of course they’re doing all of this in dark social, where you can’t track them, or you can’t see their every move. And even beyond that is a layer. Go back to chemistry class, I know not my fondest memories either. But if you think of the nucleus, gee, wait, is this physics? Where was the nucleus stuff and atoms? Is that physics or chemistry?

Stephanie Chavez:

I think it’s chemistry.

Shama Hyder:

Okay, all right. Well, someone correct me in the comments and tell me when we learn about atoms, but essentially is that’s exposure serves as the shell to the nucleus of the decision-making process, all right. It’s the thing that at the end of the day, people want the solution they feel is the most reliable. And look, this is true today more than ever. You’ve got with a recession just on the fringes and we were like that’s looming, is you have to realize people are a lot more discerning. Your buyers are going to be a lot more discerning, so trust matters a ton. And the thing is the what we’re exposed to more and more, we trust. It’s not that complicated, but again, it’s very easy.

Shama Hyder:

Then you think about okay if that’s true, why aren’t more B2B companies more creative? Why don’t they engage in this more? Shama, if all of this that you say is true, then why are B2B companies not more creative? Why are they not fully engaged in this model and creating exposure if we know that this is how people buy? Well, again, I point you to exhibit A, which is misaligned incentives. A lot of these things that we’re talking about, they’re not trackable. They don’t show up right away, the results can take time. Because of that, I think there is such a love affair with short term, even if it’s not good quality results, rather than the long term.

Shama Hyder:

I think that’s another one, but look, I think the good news in all of this is companies that are creative are just going to have an amazing, amazing competitive advantage than companies that aren’t. I honestly think it’s much easier to win in B2B than it is if you were starting a new makeup brand, because the competition is fierce. And it’s a very creative industry, so you’re going to have to up your creativity. But look, in B2B, the bar is not that high guys, let’s be honest. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist. It just takes honestly, I think a mindset and an understanding and an acceptance of how people are making decisions, and how they buy and a commitment to measuring more bottom line results, rather than just numbers for the sake of numbers.

Shama Hyder:

Look, I mean we know because we see this with our clients, the clients that do it right, the ones that put their strategies based on what they’re hearing from their customers that get qualitative feedback, they win and they win big. I mean this is why I think it’s actually easier to make campaigns go viral and B2B than B2C, because there is such a hunger. Customers are hungry to see a company do it right to actually create trust, to create affinity versus just trying to sell something. Because if you just look at even most B2B websites, oh my goodness, they’re so boring. I mean it’s a snooze fest, and I think it’s just very easy to forget. And I think this is the part where I do feel like B2B or B2C yes, it’s human beings, you still need to engage and interact with them.

Shama Hyder:

Now, I think the motivations are different. In B2C, a consumer is trying to avoid regret. “Oh, I don’t want to buy this and tomorrow think like oh, I shouldn’t have bought it, right?” But in B2B, you’re trying to avoid blame, because you are responsible for your department, your job, whatever within the ethos of a bigger company. If that’s who’s purchasing your products and services, the mindset that they have is different than they would from a consumer. So, that’s where that distinction is. But in terms of what gets a human being to stop a scroll and to engage with something, I don’t think that is different. I think creative is creative.

Shama Hyder:

I just don’t think it’s valued in B2B, the same way that it is in B2C to the great detriment by the way of the industry. But again, look part of me doing this and having this content and having these conversations is that we will be able to tackle some of this stuff. And that once companies start to see the benefit, they’ll start changing. They’ll hopefully start letting, because I don’t think it’s a matter of finding more creative talent. I think it’s there. I think it’s more a matter of letting them do these things, because there’s not a single marketer on our roster that we talk to that doesn’t want to do more creative work, that doesn’t want to do more fulfilling work, or doesn’t understand whether their audience wants something more, right?

Shama Hyder:

I think it’s just more about encouraging and dare I say, rewarding that work and understanding the importance of it. Anyways, my rant is over Steph. Let’s open it up for questions.

Stephanie Chavez:

Okay. We have a question from Ted. Ted wants to know how do we change the paradigm of this negative reward system.

Shama Hyder:

You and me both Ted, you and me both. Yeah, that’s a great question. Look, low-hanging fruit I think is, and I’m going to say because I think this is going to be the best way to change minds and whatnot. First, I think this is crucial. It starts by talking to your customers and asking them how they make their decisions when it comes to what your company sells and does. Who did they listen to? Where do they get their information? And recognizing how that is different than your outreach. I think that’s number one because there’s a huge disconnect. I mean I’m amazed at how many companies, for example, throw money still at trade shows. And look, again is trade show marketing a good idea? Yes, I mean I think events are great guys. I love events.

Shama Hyder:

I think there’s a place and time for everything. Nothing I tell you by the way, look, I’m so platform agnostic, strategy agnostic. I only care about you doing what works for you and for your audience that you want to get in front of. Back to this, but you look at that and companies who value trade shows and they think this is great. LinkedIn is the biggest trade show every single day in the world, and yet get a free booth. Yet, how many of those same companies invest, even one-tenth of what they do on trade shows, that they get to be there maybe a day, two days? And they get reach of what? Maybe a few hundred people versus thousands. And I say thousands, look, my reach on LinkedIn is millions, but that’s not the point.

Shama Hyder:

It’s not about everyone, it’s your audience. If you’re in cybersecurity and you’re trying to get in front of CSOs, I don’t even think there are millions of CSOs, right? There might not even be a thousand CSOs. It’s about you getting in front of your audience, and that’s where I think some of that disconnect is. And it starts with Ted understanding your customers and understanding how they buy, how they process information, what they look at, do they use LinkedIn. Okay, so it’s like again really basic. Okay, you find that they use LinkedIn. Now, how much time do you guys spend on LinkedIn? You say, “Oh, they read the Wall Street Journal.” Great. When was the last time you were in the Wall Street Journal? “Oh, they’re really active, and they love retail daily.”

Shama Hyder:

Great. When was the last time you had a byline in retail daily? “Oh, they listened to this podcast.” Awesome. When was the last time your CEO was on that podcast? And what I’m telling you is you’re going to start seeing a gap between what you guys do. And you I mean just in general, companies do and where your customers are. So, that’s step one for aligning incentives is saying, “This is what we’re doing, this is where our buyers are, here’s the bridge, right?” The second part of that I would say is look, it’s much easier to do a pilot and show winds than it is to go all out and say, “From today onwards, we’re going to just be a heck ton more creative.” No, pick one thing, maybe one thing that you approach differently.

Shama Hyder:

Let’s say you always put out an annual report, because so many B2B companies, they love their annual reports. Well, how can you approach that differently? Can you turn it into a series of videos this year around? Can you do something with animation? It’s just a matter of asking some different questions and thinking about how you can change up the flavor profile of that. I would say those are low-hanging ways in which you can start to just by looking at data, connect those dots a little bit better. And look, I mean here’s the other honest to God truth, right? There will be folks who will never get it, and I’ll say that again. There will be leadership that just never gets it.

Shama Hyder:

If you are at a company like that and you are a marketer who’s really wanting to do more, leave because the writing’s on the wall for you. And I think that’s just really important. You should be in a place where you can make an impact. Look, most people don’t understand marketing. Most bosses don’t understand marketing. It’s fine, it’s not their job, right? That’s why they have you, but being open to feedback and being open to looking at it and saying, “Ah, okay, I see our customers are not there.” For example, I’m not the best judge from a design perspective. If I think, “Hey listen, I think white text on a black background looks great and our creative director Ayla tells me that is a terrible idea, I’m going to listen to her because that’s why we have her. That’s why Ayla runs creative and not me, right?

Shama Hyder:

It’s not my strength.” What I’m saying is there’s leadership that’ll be open to it and are logical folks. And if you lay out a case and you connect the dots, look, they want the business to succeed, right? You’re on the same team. But if the leadership just doesn’t get it, I think that’s a red flag. And I do think there are people that are never going to get it, and they’re going to keep throwing money away. Look at all these companies in tech that have massive layoffs, and they’ve way overspent on their sales department. They were way overspent on paid. They’ve done nothing to build goodwill in communities, right? Their version of goodwill now is to put out Excel sheets with, “Here’s everybody we laid off, please go hire them.”

Shama Hyder:

I mean I think that’s a little bit of a BS act. But all that to say, I think what a recession does which we’re definitely heading into is it does get people to look at things, reassess things and say, “Is this where our money is best spent?” And if you understand this, then you understand the importance that earned media will play. You understand the importance of creating thought leadership, of making sure that it’s not just what you’re saying. It’s what other people are saying about you that’s going to matter to your prospects and your clients. Sorry Steph, a little long-winded there for Ted. Thank you for your question Ted, but hopefully, hopefully helpful.

Stephanie Chavez:

That was good. Thank you Shama. I’d like to have you address something that came up this week for us, and the correlation between brand building and sales activations, and how those two play off of each other and the benefit of each.

Shama Hyder:

Yeah. I mean look, I think all marketing should lead to sales. Marketing’s job is to lead people to buy. I mean sales job is to close deals. I mean I see that a little tongue-in-cheek stuff, but I think I mean you’ve heard me talk about this enough in team meetings and so forth, but I think the difference that you’re alluding to is more direct response and things that take longer to simmer up, but I think what one of the things that I’m seeing over and over is that there’s a great overlap. There’s almost nothing that’ll get someone to buy if they’re not ready to buy, without buyer’s remorse anyways if someone’s not ready to buy.

Shama Hyder:

We know this because one of the things that we talked about is the 95.5 role, which LinkedIn again I love big companies, because they spend so much money on this research and figuring out what makes people buy, how are they buying because it’s great. LinkedIn does all this research and finds that only 5% of your market is in the market right now to buy. Your complete target market, 5% are actually looking to buy your solution, 95% are not ready there, right? Again, this was an example I shared earlier. Let’s say, you see a Starbucks, it’s 11 p.m. at night. Now unless you really like drinking coffee at 11 at night, you’re just not going to go buy coffee then. It doesn’t matter what they do or how much they’re in your face.

Shama Hyder:

You’re not ready, you’re just want to go to bed. You’re not buying coffee. Now next morning, you might wake up for a hank ring and you might say, “Hey, it’s coffee time, let me go down to my Starbucks and get something.” I think the challenge is so much of marketing is actually not even marketing, what they’re doing is sales. They’re trying to convert people right now right away, but that’s only 5%. And from that, 90% of folks want to do their own selling. They want to self-serve, right? It’s like gas stations that insist on a person filling your tank. I think it’s just jersey now, and last I heard they might even be changing that. And you’ve got all these people that are like, “I want self-service. I want to just be able to pump my own gas.”

Shama Hyder:

So, that’s the shift that we’re seeing. We think that’s getting harder and harder to say what’s an activation that’s for brand building, versus what activation is going to sell someone that doesn’t want to buy yet, or isn’t ready to buy yet. This is the other thing, again Forrester, lots of great research that comes out of there. They said that it went from 17 to 21 touch points. Pre-pandemic, it was 17 touch points for someone to go from prospect to customer. Now, it’s 21 touch points. I guess could you get lucky, and that’s your 21st touch point? Sure, but it’s roulette, it’s gambling. And I don’t think good marketing should be gambling.

Shama Hyder:

I think good marketing should be about strategic, consistent, creative efforts meeting your customers where they are and assisting them in their buying journey and making sure at the end, they find their way to you, but it’s much more a Sherpa approach, it’s much more a gentle guiding approach. It’s not going to be the hard sell that wins. And by hard sell, again I don’t mean not cold calling, or I don’t think by the way one tactic is hard selling versus another. I think it completely depends on your messaging at where someone is. Look, the only difference between spam and something really helpful is timing, that’s it. What’s the difference between a piece of content that’s spam versus relevant? Timing, that’s it.

Shama Hyder:

It’s all about timing. I mean again, these are the things that I think are so easy to forget. Because when you get in your little mindset and you’re like, “I just got to close, I just got to sell. These people, we must market to them,” it’s like they’re plenty good at researching and figuring this out. Your job is to be there when they’re ready and to start those discussions. You can guide them, so they know, right? I think that’s a big part of it is helping guide, creating that thought leadership. Yeah.

Stephanie Chavez:

Joe wants to know of those 21 times that you’re supposed to be in front of people before they’ll become a customer, what is the best tactic for that?

Shama Hyder:

Great question Joe and look, you’re going to be multiple tactics because those 21 touch points aren’t you picking up the phone 21 times to say, “Hi, remember me? Remember me?” 21st time, it must be a charm. It’s all the touch points. Again, the dark social model. It’s when someone talks about you in a Slack chat. They’re reading an article on Forbes, your companies come up. Now, they’re talking to a colleague and they mention you again. Those are all touch points. I think the key thing you have to realize here is that you don’t even control where all those touch points happen, when they happen. Your job is to just make sure that your flag is planted for when your prospect gets there.

Stephanie Chavez:

And I know that you say you know that we’re doing our job when people say I see you everywhere.

Shama Hyder:

Yeah. And Steph, how many times have you heard that from a client where someone’s like, “Oh man, so-and-so or boss or whatever just saying you guys are everywhere, and I’m like high five man”?

Stephanie Chavez:

Yep.

Shama Hyder:

Great.

Stephanie Chavez:

Mission accomplished.

Shama Hyder:

Yes. I mean look, again no marketers ever going to say being seen too much is a bad thing, just like no one in sales is ever going to say oh goodness, right? That was just too easy of a close. Yeah, I mean make your life easy, but look, it matters. Repetition matters and repetition leads to revenue. It is that simple. The more someone sees your brand, the more they’re exposed to it through all those things, through paid advertising, through social content, through owned content, through your blog posts, through your reports, through your LinkedIn fireside chats, through videos, through podcasts. All of it, all of those things are touch points, but those 21 touch points are not linear.

Shama Hyder:

They happen in this, again you can look at the model, in the messy middle, right? You just have your little flags planted. And as people run through the marathon or course or whatever, they’re going to see you, but you don’t get to take someone and say, “Aha.” It’s not a funnel approach in that you get someone and you say, “All right, we’re going to hit you 21 times and then you’re going to buy.” That’s generally not how it works, but that is a very good question.

Stephanie Chavez:

All right, last question from Susan. You talked about a recession coming up, what should we do from a marketing perspective? Should we pull back? Should we push forward more? What should a company do?

Shama Hyder:

Yeah, so great, great question Susan. And by the way, I highly recommend listening to the last episode, which again you can listen to one podcast. And we covered very specifically how to market in a recession. Your question, we did a whole episode on it. By the way, you go to YouTube Shhama TV, if you go to LinkedIn, Facebook, pick your poison. If you prefer video, you can actually watch it. And if you’re just fine with audio, you can listen to the audio. I also did an article on LinkedIn specifically on how to market during a recession. And to short answer to recap is you’re going to see two groups. You’re going to see the group that gets scared and pulls back during headlights.

Shama Hyder:

And this is the group that really gets hot hit hard, because they start to pull back. We’re going to see a lot of short-term maneuvers right now. People cutting things, nu-huh, we don’t need that cut. Mistaking actual revenue generators for expense, and they’re going to start cutting. And again within 90 days, four months, they’re going to be like, “Wait, what is happening?” Because they’re not going to see the impact right now and in four months, they’re going to start to see the impact. And then they’re going to start freaking out, and they’re going to start turning things on again. There’s that group. Then there’s the group that says, “Look, there are going to be some great opportunities for us to embrace.”

Shama Hyder:

We saw this during the pandemic. I mean I think the pandemic was a good dress rehearsal for a risk recession, because you had to reevaluate, you had to look at where are you spending your money, how you do business. And I think there were some great lessons because look at the companies that they talked about our client one died, that was serving restaurants. I mean restaurants were super hard hit, but they really doubled down. They were helping the community. They improved their technology, and now they’ve got studios, stadiums, movie theaters lining up way more of an audience even. And a lot of their competitors fell apart at that time. There’s going to be some great opportunities here.

Shama Hyder:

I would say obviously being the latter group, the smarter group. I do think it is a good time to ask questions and say, “Where are we spending? Where are customers? How are they actually buying?” Look, take time to understand what’s happening right now in dark social, in how people are making decisions. The split between social and media, I think that’s huge and very, very underrated. I just don’t think people are talking enough about what social media means today, and it’s not platforms. It’s how we are using these platforms in a way to engage completely with strangers and broader community, and these internal… I always say the number one app on everybody’s phone today is a messaging app.

Shama Hyder:

Some sort of messenger is where you’re spending the majority of your time, it doesn’t matter who you are. So, knowing these things I think recalibrate your marketing, and it’s a great time to again double down, because bigger companies often will cut advertising budgets and whatnot. And that means you get a deal, right? You get a deal and just yeah, understand that I think more than anything, it’s a mindset, understanding that sales cycles are going to get longer, that buyers are going to get more discerning, that they’re going to need more third-party proof and validation of before they decide who they go with. Yeah, look things in some ways just got a little bit harder, and in other ways got a little bit easier.

Shama Hyder:

I don’t think it’s a good thing or a bad thing by the way. I think it’s just a different way to approach marketing right now. So, great question guys. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of it’s not magic, it’s marketing. Miss Chavez as always, a pleasure sharing tea with you and chatting about the things that we love most.

Stephanie Chavez:

Absolutely. ‘Til next time.

Shama Hyder:

Thank you guys.

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