LIVE – It’s Not Magic. It’s Marketing.

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Shama Hyder:

Welcome. Welcome. Hey, guys, thank you so much for joining. Looks like we’ve got some live attendees here. I’m so excited to have everyone. With me today, as moderator, she’s very gracious, because she does not have enough to do on a regular basis, is Miss Stephanie Chavez. Some of you may already know her, but she’s president at Zen Media, and yeah, will be helping me along here. I apologize in advance for any technical issues we may have. This is the first time we’re doing it in this format, meaning it is being live streamed across multiple social platforms. This could be reaching over a million people right now live.

There’s quite a few bells and whistles there. I apologize, again in advance, if something gets stuck or something isn’t working as well as we’d like it to, but hopefully we will live and learn. Regardless, if you are listening, watching, joining, that you get value out of this. That’s always my goal with any of the content that I present. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Shama Hyder. I am CEO and founder at Zen Media. We do PR marketing, specifically PR content and social for many B2B, especially tech driven B2B companies. That’s my jam and here’s how we happened upon this. For a while now, the team has asked me to do more audio.

While I’ve done a ton of podcasts, I think at this point I’ve probably been on over a thousand podcasts, I’ve yet to start my own. I guess yet is not appropriate since I did start my own after the team just said, “You know what? You really need to take all this content, put it on audio.” I said, “You know what? That’s a good idea team.” It only takes them like 10 times or so to tell me something. Then, of course, in true boss fashion, I’m like, “Guys, I have a great idea. Here’s my idea. What do you think?” They’re really gracious. They clapped and they say, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.

Why didn’t we think of this?” But I kid, so I launched It’s Not Magic, It’s Marketing because I feel like that’s a lot of what I spend my life these days trying to explain to people. If you are marketers on here, then you understand, because a big part of this all comes down to … I did a LinkedIn post today and I said, people often say, “Let’s sprinkle this, let’s slap on some marketing, let’s layer it on. Let’s blast it.” As if marketing is this magic ingredient or it’s just something that you do, where people have their products or services and then they say, “Let’s get marketing in here now. Let’s market this thing.”

I do think it’s interesting, the way our culture, expectations, everything shifted. I think the other part of it is the team got tired of me talking about this in our Slack channels. Hearing me talk about it with our clients and prospects, and they said, “Shama, you really need to be sharing more of this across the board.” Of course, I said, “Well, I do keynotes. I speak to lots of organizations.” Then, of course, they very astutely pointed out that most of those organizations are internal and they are paid events exclusive to their members. The majority of the audience doesn’t really get to hear my thoughts on marketing and PR the way the world is changing.

 Hence, we’re bringing you live It’s Not Magic, It’s Marketing. I’m hoping that we will cover plenty of different topics in this really broad arena. Yeah, today is really our kickoff and I so look forward to your feedback, your responses. Leave them in the comments, LinkedIn messenger, tweets, pick your poison, whatever you prefer. I just love hearing from you guys. I do my best to read all my comments. I really do my best to respond to every single comment. I apologize if I don’t always get to do that and hit every message, but I promise I try. For those who don’t know, I have two little ones. I have a two and a half year old son and a one year old daughter.

Aside from running Zen and chasing after those two, I’ve decided to add this to my plate. Yeah, so I do my best to scale. As I know, many of you guys are probably also parents and have families, so you know how that dance goes all too well. But the goal of doing this live is twofold. One, it’s to be able to give me that platform to connect with you through video, which I absolutely love. I know the big thing was during the pandemic video, but I’ve been doing video for almost 15 years. I think it’s such a great way to connect with people, to share all your non-verbal messaging along with your verbal messaging.

I really am thrilled to be able to do this in a video format, and so the goal is to have a platform to discuss things that are on my mind. Some of these things sometimes come by research. Other times it’s, and most of the times, it’s from our clients. We work with so many amazing companies and clients, and we’re in the trenches. A lot of what I share with you is things that we see, things that I hear, things that I feel like, “Wow, I wish I could share this with everyone.” Big part of that is getting a chance to share those stories, those strategies, to give you a very honest look at what’s working and sometimes even what’s not.

Then, the other side of it, which is very important to me, is to be able to use this format to answer your questions, because inevitably that’s the other thing I felt like I was running across or running into, was I would get all these questions. Honestly, as much as I would love to answer all these questions one-on-one, and God knows I try, it’s just not always feasible. My hope is to do this 50-50, may not be that exact of a science yet, but we will figure it out. It’s good to give you a chance to ask questions and to be able to engage with you and give you this opportunity to ask me, because unless you are a client or unless you work at Zen, the chances of you getting your question directly answered are just slim based on time.

Although, I do try. This is my platform and I hope that you will invite fellow practitioners, your colleagues. I have a special spot for, in my heart, for students. Students of marketing and PR, if you’re curious about where this, how to grow your career, what you should be looking at, how you should grow your brand, what you should be focused on while in school. That’s what all of this is for. My goal is that, if you are listening, that you get value out of it. That’s really what I’m here for, doing this from my intention. My sister is a yoga teacher, for those of you who don’t know. She does many things, she’s very talented, but one of her true things is she’s a Yogi.

I am not, for those who know me know this, I am not. But as a Yogi, in yoga, it’s really big to set your intention. My intention with doing this It’s Not Magic, It’s Marketing is to be really of service. That’s my intention, is very much primarily to be of service to you, to be of service to this large community that we’ve encompassed. I’m always blown away by how global our community is. Yes, we have clients in Israel and New York and all over the world, but even just the comments that I get, the questions, I know we have just such a global reach and I’m so grateful for that. At this point, I’ve spoken on all six continents out of the seven.

By the way, I really don’t have a wishlist to make it seven. If I never speak in Antarctica, I’m fine with this. It’s only because I’m not a big fan of the cold, it’s not because I don’t think the people and the penguins there are lovely. It’s really cool. I’ve traveled the world. I’ve gotten to meet so many of you in person. As things lift, I’m hoping that more of those opportunities will arise. But yeah, meanwhile, I think this is really fantastic and I’m excited to be going down this path with you. Let’s talk about this a little bit, the importance of community. By the way, my agenda here is very broad. This is our first time doing this.

I don’t have a very strict, like, here’s absolutely what I want to talk about. These are just things that have been rolling around in my mind, things that I want to … I feel like need to be addressed. Marketing, even from an earned PR standpoint, the truth is that you have fewer and fewer publications with fewer reporters that are more stressed than ever before. Just time wise, many, by the way, reporters write for multiple publications. I always find this fascinating, is when someone feels like, “Oh, this reporter writes for too small a publication for us, or they’re dismissive.” I always tell folks, not just for the sake that you should respect everybody, but specifically when it comes to professional journalists, many of them wear multiple hats.

 It’s not uncommon to talk to someone and they might be interviewing or looking for, they have an assignment for smaller publication. Well, it turns out, they also write for some of the biggest publications. I highlight this to say that a lot of earned media, I believe, as it’s evolving, we will continue to see a rise and really need for a community. If COVID, the pandemic, if all of this thought is anything, it’s that community is now more crucial than ever before, which by the way, I do predict arise again in church going activities. I know for a while we saw a slide downwards, but I think people are going to be so hungry for community again.

We are going to see an uptick in that, but here’s where that opportunity is and here’s how it all connects. When you look at earned media, when you look at your overall marketing initiatives, I think one of the really clear goals there should be to build your community while you’re building that trust. Earned media ends up playing a part of your marketing. It’s not everything, but it’s definitely a key component, thinking about, how can you build that community? For me, it’s always been very important with Zen Media to walk our talk, which is why I said, “We can’t keep talking about this and not have it ourselves. We’ve got to have our own sense of community, a place where bringing like minds together, sharing ideas, sharing things.”

I do think this topic of community will continue to loom large. One of the things we’ve been talking internally about is how community and platforms are getting more and more diverse. Before, with social media, community management’s always been like a service. It’s always been a part of it, but it’s been more Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Twitter, but now, that’s expanding even further, right? You think about Discord, obviously, Twitter is continuing to evolve. I’m laughing because I’m thinking of Elon Musk today bid to buy it. I’m happy to share my thoughts, if you guys would like. But with Discord and Reddit, what I think is one of the most fascinating things feeding this sense of community, and I wrote about this in LinkedIn, was how I feel like our culture is shifting, because what I think happens is culture starts to shift.

 We, as a society, decides certain things. Inevitably, that affects us as marketers and how we approach our marketing, how we approach building our brands. One of the other things that I find fascinating is that most brands continue to market like it’s 2005 or even 2018, or even pre-pandemic, believe it or not. Because society and culture are changing so fast, and if you don’t keep up with that, if you don’t really recognize how quickly people are changing their buying behaviors, you’re going to get left behind. One of my other hopes in doing this and talking to you guys about this is understanding the role marketing plays and why it needs to keep evolving in how you engage people. How you build that community, how you get your customers.

If you look at the rise of NFT and the metaverse, and all of this, really all of this is about community. You can give it different means, but the main part of it is the same. I think people want to feel included. They want to feel like they’re part of something bigger. These human, very human needs and desires are not changing, but the way we’re looking for information, the way we’re making decisions, I think that is changing dramatically. I don’t think it’s going to go back to the way it was. One of the fascinating things that I often get asked, this is actually one of my most favorite questions, is people ask me, how are you able to predict the future?

I don’t see this from like a psychic standpoint, but I’ve got a pretty decent track record of looking around the bend and saying, “Here’s what I think is next.” For many of you who might not know this, I did my thesis on Twitter when it had 2000 users. Incredibly early days of social media, and I was fascinated by it. I thought this is definitely going to be the future. I was 22 years old. I was getting my master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. I did my degree in organizational communication and technology, and I was just so excited. I get out into the real world and I do what you’re supposed to do, which is, everyone’s told since they were a wee babe, that once you get out of school, you’re supposed to go get a job.

Here, I thought I’m going to go get a job in social media. Silly me, I didn’t realize that social media was not an industry yet. I jokingly told everyone at South By, where I keynoted, that my first South By was in 2008 and there were 200 of us at Interactive. That’s how early days it was. If you think NFT and the metaverse is new, that’s a whole different ball game. This is pre-Snapchat, pre-Instagram, pre-TikTok, pre everything basically. When I got out, I did what you’re supposed to do, which is try to go get a job. After about, oh, 18 rejections from companies who just didn’t feel like this was going to be anywhere on the radar.

I can’t tell you how many Fortune 500 companies looked me square in the eye and said, “We just think this is a fad. We just don’t see this going anywhere. We really think this whole internet thing, we’re just waiting for it to calm down.” At 22, the only thing I really had was my convictions and my naivete, which by the way, fantastic when starting a new anything. If you’re starting a job at a new company, your own endeavor, naivety is your best friend. Because if someone laid out every challenge you’re ever going to face, you just wouldn’t do it. It’s too daunting. All right. Naivety can really be your friend.

At that point I was like, “You know what? Let’s just go for it. Let me start my own thing. Let me put out my shingle.” Of course, I learned many, many lessons through that process, but what I got really good at, I think, in that process was getting better at trusting my own intuition about things, and being able to then continuously look at things and say, “I think this is what’s next. I think this is what’s next.” Of course, like any muscle, the more you use it, the better it gets, the better you get at it, the stronger it gets. But I also think one of the reasons I’ve been good at predicting future trends and why I’ve been able to spot them perhaps sooner than other folks.

One, I have a very interesting childhood, which we could definitely dive into on a future episode, but I think it’s because I’m also a big student of history. I really, really love history and I love studying it. I think if you become a good student of history, and I don’t just mean like memorizing dates, but if you understand motivations and patterns, you see that those patterns keep repeating in different forms, in different ways. They don’t, in these lessons that we can take away, tend to be really powerful. One of the questions that I’d often get is, “Shama, now that we’re post-pandemic, now that we’re getting out of where we’ve all been sheltering in place more or less in the last two, three years, what do you think happens?

Do you think we just go back to the way things were?” I know new normal gets tossed around a lot, but I said, “I don’t even have to guess here because we can just look at history.” I’ll give you two examples of history that really stand out to me, that I feel like are very telling of this hybrid environment and why I don’t think, by the way, that we are ever going to go back to the way things were. I can give you more stats, and just how different decision making process even looks like for most buyers, especially for big ticket items for B2B sales. But yeah, as I think about how much has changed just in the last six months alone, I think more and more that my prediction is going to be pretty right on.

Let’s look at two historical events, which I think have shaped so much of our society at large. The first one I always like to point out to people is World War II. Now, World War II was really interesting in many levels, but one of the things that happened when men went to war, and now I’m speaking specifically in American history, but when American men went to war women for the first time went into the workplace in mass droves. Not to say there had never been women in the workplace before, but that was really the turning point where women started going into the workplace. Now, of course, we won the war, the men came back home.

You would think that all the women would go back to their roles, right? All the women go back home, but that’s not what happened. It really was the beginning of women in the modern workplace, that was the beginning. While some women chose to go back, we wouldn’t have the workplace today that we do if we didn’t have that occurrence, right? That tipping point, those changes in patterns, we never went back from. The other thing you look at, and this is a rather tragic event, but 9/11, which of course scarred so many of us. I still remember I was a junior in high school watching the tragedy unfold. But very specifically, if you look at what it did to security in this country and airport security specifically was, that was the birthplace of TSA.

We were told that this was all temporary. It was like, “No, don’t you worry. We just need you to take your shoes off until this time passes.” Lo and behold, we continue with those measures today, and they get more stringent. I feel like security gets more and more beefed up, not more relaxed. What these two historic events even just show us is that when we have a change in pattern, when people start reassessing certain things or we start changing the way we do things, it never really goes back. It may not happen overnight, but certainly it has begun, and you don’t turn back the clock in that way. Okay. Shama, thanks for the history lesson. What does that mean for us as marketers?

What it means is the audience got more and more comfortable. Your customers, your prospects got more and more comfortable making decisions digitally than ever before. Before, while so many companies relied on just trade shows or that face to face, and many people still held on to that offline wanting that connection. Now, I’m not saying it’s good or bad or anything, but all of a sudden you had all these folks who were not necessarily digital natives, who were still relying on that, forced to go into this digital environment. They have come out on the other side a lot savvier and more skeptical, believe it or not.

Trust continues to decline, which is why I’m so passionate about the work that we do, because this is the antidote. How do you build that trust again with customers, with prospects? That’s not just about what you blast out there, but thinking about this stuff in a much more holistic way. The other thing is, it takes longer now for people to make decisions just because of the miasma of uncertainty that we all have been forced to live with in the last few years and continue to live with. Forrester did this fascinating study where they found that in 2017, it took … sorry, 2018. It took 17 touch points, 17 touch points for someone to go from prospect to customer.

In 2021, it was 21 touch points. In a very short amount of time span customers now need more touch points. A lot of what we’re seeing right now is a result of that, is a result of the pandemic, of changing of attitudes, of being more accepting of hybrid workplaces, of being more … I was reading about all these companies doing these things to entice people back into the office, and the parties are getting crazier. I think there is a time and place for that, but do I think most people are going to be willing to say, “Oh yeah, I don’t think I’ll work from home. I’ll just do the commute and go back to that.” Absolutely not. I think that there’s going to be a reckoning and it’s already begun in corporate America to say, “What do our people really want?”

I don’t think it’s more ping pong tables, but it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. Let me take a breather and see if we have questions. Let’s see. All right. Like I said, I’ve got Steph helping me here in the background with questions. Let’s see. All right. Here’s a question. This is interesting. Okay. The question is, I want to do the right things when it comes to marketing, but my boss doesn’t get it. Whoa, Sheila, you’re the only person that I’ve ever heard this from. Sheila, I hate to tell you this, but I think you might just be doing it wrong. I have never heard of a boss not understand. Okay, I’ll stop. Sorry.

I can’t even do it with a straight face, but look so sorry, Sheila. That was just too good of a question for me not to go down that path, but you are not alone by any means or any stretch of the imagination. There are plenty of folks out there who have a hard time understanding marketing. I will say this, it goes both ways, all right? Marketers need to get way, way, way better at explaining how what they’re doing is connected to actual business outcomes. I think as we hinge on a recession here in the States, very likely, possibly, this will come more of the forefront where it’s, how is marketing impacting what we’re trying to do, which is get more customers.

Having the right metrics in place, Sheila, is going to be huge, right? It can’t just be how many leads are we getting, how many email addresses we’re collecting, because anybody can do that. You don’t need marketing to give you email addresses and contact info. It’s a really low level, I say low level loosely, but it’s an easily done activity. Let me put it that way. There’s a lot of ways to collect information about individuals. Now, being able to tell your boss how marketing works, how it actually impacts your business outcomes, how it speeds up your pipeline, when people do come to sales, they’re much more ready to buy, how it increases your conversion rates.

These are all things by the way that you can track. One of the metrics that I’m a big fan of is share of voice. Very simply share of voice is how much within the industry do you own the conversation versus your competitors? If you are manufacturing headlights, I’m making this up, so let’s say you manufacture headlights, your company manufacturers headlights. When people talk about buying headlights, how much do they talk about your company versus your competitors? That percentage, that ratio is your share of voice. What we know to be absolutely true, and Nielsen has the data to back this up, is the higher the share of voice for a company, the higher their market share.

Those two go very hand in hand. One of the things that you can look at is all the conversations that happen about your company and being able to track that. One really simple way to do this is ask. I’m always surprised how more people don’t just ask folks who visit their website, who do business with them, how did you hear about us? How did you find us? Because you’ll be surprised at their answers. Most people just assume, or they look at software, which is terrible by the way, because Google is the … Google used to be the starting point. It’s really now the gateway. When I want to go to a website, I often don’t type it into the URL bar.

I just type it into Google and get to the site that way. It’s not this kind of discovery engine that it used to be. You really need to ask people and you need to have different ways in which you’re able to see how marketing is actually impacting the company. Now that we’ve answered that side of it, and I can do a whole another episode on metrics and so forth, if that’s what you guys like and want more of. But the flip side of it now is making sure that you have leadership that understands and is willing to invest and play the long game when it comes to marketing. What I mean by that is, so much of marketing is more like R&D, research and development, than it is anything else.

It’s more like R&D than sales. Most people think, “Oh, marketing and sales go together.” But I almost think marketing and research and development go together. Because when you have that moment, when you’re really able to get traction, when you’re able to build that community, everything takes off like wildfire. So many folks just don’t have the patience for that, or they don’t have the understanding, the mindset. That’s my answer, is you want to make sure that you are doing everything on your end to educate. At the end of the day, if you still feel like a company doesn’t get it, I will tell you this, Sheila, it’s possible they may never get it.

That’s a tough pill to swallow, I’m sure, because it’s possible that it’s just not … Why do the believers believe and why do the non-believers not believe? In the words of the great late Jim Rohn. Who knows? All that to say, if I was in the space, so if I actually was working at a company right now in house, as a marketer, I would make sure that that leadership understands what marketing really means and what you’ll need to do to get there. That they have the patience and the strategic insight, if you will, to be able to hold to that. Sadly, if they don’t, if I was a marketer, I wouldn’t work at a company like that.

I’ll tell you why, because it’s really shooting yourself on the foot to stay somewhere that does not understand why what you do is important, and that it’s not sales, that it’s not … So many times at companies I’ll see this, especially at B2B, marketing ends up being like the on-demand collateral center for sales. Like, “I need this, I need this.” Marketing is not an asset creation house. Yes. That may be a part of what marketers do, but that makes it a very tactical position. It makes it, heck you can use Canva to do that. Do you really need? If I was a marketer in your position, I would want to make sure that I’m making the business case.

That I’m connecting my outcomes to … Yeah, that I’m really connecting my strategies and our tactics to outcomes. You can totally do this, by the way. Again, basic way, talk to your customers. It’s that simple. I’ll talk a little bit more about why you don’t always tremendously. Then, of course, if you continue to find that your leadership doesn’t get it, honestly, I’ll be very blunt and say, “You deserve better.” Because right now is your moment. There are companies that really, really want good marketing talent. If you understand this world and you are willing, and by the way, just you listening to this and spending your Thursday evening here, tells me that you are among the top 1%.

You already committed. You’re asking these questions. Clearly, you wouldn’t be doing this if you didn’t care about your job or care about the brand you’re building. I would say, use your strengths and play to them where they’re appreciated and where you have a good runway and where you can actually deliver results. Because of all the marketers that I know, the most frustrating thing across the board that they all have in common, regardless of whether they’re in tech or healthcare or manufacturing, is feeling like they can’t make a difference because they’re so limited by what they’re allowed to do or what they’re held to.

One of the things I always like to say is, good marketing is a privilege. That privilege comes once you, especially for tech companies, which we work with a ton, it comes when you have product market fit. It comes when you have customers already in the door. It comes when you have some level of traction. It’s very hard to market when you are literally hunting to eat. You’re killing to just get food on the table. There’s no better recipe for burnout than that, in my opinion. Sorry, Sheila, a long bit of an answer for your question, but hopefully helpful. Perhaps, there’s others in the same boat wondering. All right. Here’s another question.

We have an investor who is asking, why do we need an agency for a full go-to market campaign, where we could pay maybe two people in-house to do everything? Look, there’s multiple ways to skin a cat, and certainly you can build out in-house teams. The challenge with in-house teams, and this is the challenges of human beings, is it’s hard to find everything that go-to market strategy requires in two to three people. A really good marketer, when they come in, a really good leader, one of the first things they do is they bring in the team that they know can help them. It’s all about the team. You rather it’s your internal team, but two to three people, and expecting them to do what, design, content, page, social.

Again, this is why you see a lot of turnover in marketing as well, because a few people are expected to do much, and it’s not … not only is it not just humanly plausible, even if they’re able to pull it off, the results are scattered at best. They’re not going to be great results. Whether you decide to bring someone in house or work with an agency, I think you need to be realistic about the head count it actually takes. People say, “Well, what if I don’t have the budget? What if we’re a startup?” Listen, when you’re starting out, you have more time than money, I hope, because if you don’t have the funds, you have the time. Use that time.

As your company grows and you have more money than time, then it makes sense, obviously, to bring on an agency, to bring on different folks who can help amplify and get you there faster. There’s that, right? Go-to market strategies, especially in this environment, take a lot of execution. Look, we’re doing this live here, and I can’t tell you how many folks this took. We had our creative director working on the messaging and the design. We had content to write the registration page copy. We had a sound engineer earlier, making sure this is getting all recorded, so when it goes up on the podcast later, it’ll be solid. You guys won’t wince every time you hear my voice. Who else am I missing?

We had our developer, who had to get the page on the site, obviously. You’ve got the SME, the subject matter expert, if you will, on here. We’ve got a moderate … This operation alone, it’s a six to seven person job. All this is we’re just taking this to market. When you want to do something right, and you want it fast, what’s the old adage? Quick, good, what is it? Good, fast, and one more … pick. Good, fast, cheap. Thanks. Thank you, Steph. Good, fast, cheap. You can have two out of three. That’s really true across the board. I have yet to figure out a hack around that. If you don’t mind slow, go slow. That’s okay. Yeah. Look, there’s many ways to approach all these things.

You want to make sure that the people that you’re working with are … The worst thing that you can do to one of your top people is to put more on them, so, “Oh, well you can handle that too. Right?” Because then they can’t do anything really to their top of their abilities. I think that’s also something just to keep in mind. Cool. Another question here. All right, guys, we have a lot of questions, so I might just not be able to get to all of these questions. But luckily, we’re going to do this again next Thursday. You can hear me answer your questions then. All right. Question from Rita. What are your best strategies for increasing share of voice? I love this question, Rita.

Share of voice simply means how can you start being a greater part of conversations happening in your industry? Part of this is understanding where those conversations are happening. I love a tool like SparkToro, by the way, that’s It lets you see where your audiences are. I think it’s such a great tool. Whatever you do, you can say, let’s say you sell bathroom fixtures. Well, if you want to see who’s talking about, perhaps not necessarily bathroom fixtures, but fixtures, but do it yourself, or interior design, SparkToro is a great tool where you can look at that and see who’s talking about these things and then starting to get becoming part of that conversation.

There’s the social media element, obviously. There’s share of voice there. Then, there’s earned media, which I was just looking at a study today, which … Gosh, I can’t think of the, who commissioned it. I just shared it with my team, but it essentially showed that, well, trust for B2B companies is very low. One of the most trusted resources, I want to say it was like 72%, is still earned media, so PR. What people read about you. What people are saying about your company in publications. Obviously, a very direct way to increase your share of voice, is just give people something to talk about, right? The other kind of strategy that I want to share is content, but get creative.

I read this great story today and I was just laughing because some of you may be familiar with Wordle, which is a really … It’s sold for, I believe, like a undisclosed low seven figures perhaps. It’s this five letter word game that New York Times bought. I thought this was such a brilliant game. I like playing it. It’s fun. It only takes a few minutes. It’s just such a great exercise for your brain. Someone, actually, these two women who run a podcast, which I’ve got to listen to one of these days, because it sounds totally up my alley, this podcast on Taylor Swift. They’re Swifties and they cover all things Taylor Swift, which I love, a huge Taylor Swift fan.

Taylor, if you are watching this or listening and you need help with marketing, call me. Yeah, I love Taylor Swift for so many reasons. Her music’s great. She’s very smart, young woman, entrepreneur. A gal after my own heart, if you will. But these girls started a Swifty Wordle, so it’s a Wordle, but using Taylor Swift songs and words that huge, mega Taylor Swift fans would know. Well, as you can imagine, this campaign has done really well and has attracted a lot of attention. Last I checked, they had like 136 backlinks just from this alone. There’s just so many ways I think to get creative. It’s one of the things that I really love, for being able to create more share of voice.

Create things people want to share, that they want to talk about. By the way, it doesn’t have to be something everyone loves. It’s only something that your audience would resonate with, so just keep that in mind. As we work with B2B companies, it’s not always a consumer buying that. Sometimes they’re in very niche industries. They can be in manufacturing, in healthcare and life sciences. Aceso, for example, a life sciences company, is not necessarily looking at the same things as a general consumer might on TikTok. I think it’s very important that you’re looking at virality, not just like how do we go viral, but how do you get known and trusted? More important than just being, getting attention is how do you get a seat at the table?

How do people think of you when they’re issuing their next RFP? How do you make it to the top of their list? Just things to think about, but I think all of those things contribute to share of voice. Thanks for your question, Rita. Question from LinkedIn. Okay. What are some strategies you find are common go-tos that are behind the times for optimizing audience exposure versus more fitting strategies for post-COVID innovative resources of technology? Oh, boy, this is a great question. Look, I think most companies are still marketing, forget pre-pandemic days, they’re still marketing as if it’s 2008, where you can track everything, where you can follow people around, where you can spam them. You can cold call them.

As long as you have a contact email, you can nurture them. What I think is very important is realizing that people make these decisions to buy long before they ever engage with you. This is a Gartner stat, but it’s over … people are over 64% through the buying cycle before they ever talk to a sales rep. People who think sales is the beginning of the selling process are doing … that’s the ultimate group behind [inaudible 00:42:13], because it’s not. By the time they start the sales process, most of your folks are pre-sold, they’re already pre-sold and that’s the goal of marketing. The goal of marketing is to pre-sell. When they’re ready, they think of you.

They are ready to buy. They’re ready to engage. Then, it’s a question of, “Hey, how can you help me?” Not, “Who the heck are you?” It’s a very different conversation to have. If you’ve ever talked to someone, you tell them where you work, I was at South By and I was talking to a few colleagues and some new folks that I hadn’t known. I said, “Oh, yeah, I run Zen Media.” The majority of the group said, “Oh, yeah, we know who you guys are.” I was like, “Wow, well that’s nice.” But that’s the feeling I think everybody gets when someone’s like, “Yeah, we know who you are.” Because we’re not, look, we’re not a Fortune 500 company. It’s not the Accenture of the world or Deloittes. It’s not one of those names.

I’m always, to me, that’s always telling, is how do people respond? This goes back to share of voice. The other thing that I always like to remind people is that it’s of the 95-5 rule. Actually, this came about with LinkedIn’s research, and the 95-5 rule basically says that only 5% of your market is buying at this time, 95% are not. It doesn’t matter what you do to try and sell them, you can walk backward, you can ride a clown car and juggle balls in the air. It doesn’t matter. Basically, they’re not ready to buy. The goal is to make sure that when they are ready to buy, so when that 95 inevitably becomes the five, which they will, that’s just time for you, that they think of you. Recall, I think, is so underrated.

It really should be one of the top priorities of how quickly is your name the top name that comes up when companies think about what it is you offer. Whatever area that you work in, whatever industry you’re in, whatever SaaS, it doesn’t matter, whatever that category is, how can you be the defacto category leader in that space? That’s really what you’re going for, is to be that defacto leader. In everything that you do, that should be what’s, at the end of the day, what you’re looking at, is how quickly can people recall your name, what you do when they’re in that 5%. Are they coming? Are they coming to you? Are they thinking of you or are they thinking of your competitors?

Look, that world is getting, it is getting harder and harder to stand out. I’m not going to lie and tell you guys that, “Oh, my God, marketing’s a piece of cake or PR.” No, in fact, I would say marketing and PR today are the hardest they’ve ever been historically because you can’t just throw money at it. You can’t just buy more lists and get more salespeople on the phone and just … Yes, to some degree, it’s a numbers game. But boy, that is a very rough, rough, uphill climb, versus the tools that you have at your disposal. If you can really practice some patience and get the right folks on board and put the right metrics and give people a great runway to do good things.

Now, this is assuming you have a good product market fit, all these things, you will see that you’re also capable of amazing things because culture is moving so fast today. Almost every week, there is something that we talk about in our team that we feel like, “Wow, we should take advantage of this.” It used to be that trends came out, you’d have maybe seasonal trends in fashion or maybe even annual trends. Today, it’s weekly, if not daily. It’s just the pace and the nature of our very fragmented media space. Anyways, maybe I’ll save that for a later one too. Yeah, let’s see. Okay. One more question, and then I promise we will call it an evening. I will get to your other questions next week, so I hope you enjoyed this.

Okay. What do you think about data science or data analytics plays a role in digital marketing and digital transformation? It is extremely important when put in its place. What I mean by that is, data is your friend when it’s not the only thing you hang your hat on. What I mean by this is, I feel like we have this crazy love affair with data and everything needs to be measurable. Everything needs to, and the way people buy today, it’s more and more shrouded and shielded. The term dark social gets thrown around a lot. In fact, the first time I talked about this was in 2016, this idea that the way people go about making their decisions are not necessarily threads that you can follow.

I can’t tell you how many conversations I have in LinkedIn messages and Slack chats. If I was to guess, the number one app, every single one of you, regardless of where you are in the world right now watching this, uses, I would guess that it’s a messaging app, some sort of messaging app. I don’t care if it’s WhatsApp, Telegram, LinkedIn Message, it doesn’t matter, but it is a one-on-one messaging app. The companies that you’re talking about, the people that you’re talking about most likely don’t have access to that information. No amount of data will tell you this. Will tell you, “Hey, so and so shared this article in the Slack chat.”

Now, if you ask people these questions, you’ll probably get a lot better answer. Yeah, so I think analytics are great. I think they can really inform your strategy, but I think it’s a mistake to choose the merely measurable when you are able to have the meaningful. We think that’s what I’m always about, choose the meaningful over the merely measurable, because the data, like Sheila’s question earlier, the data makes it, makes us, whether unwittingly or not, manipulate to say, “Hey, this is the answer you’re looking for, so here’s how we get that answer.” Versus, what should we really be looking for. I also think it’s fascinating that when we say data, we always refer, at least most people, refer to quantitative.

But because I have an academic background, I almost got my, went and got my PhD, because I just was fascinated by academia, was qualitative is just as important. That is also data. Data science is not just numbers and where you can point things. There is real data to be found in the qualitative. Brené Brown does a lot of qualitative research. A lot of researchers do much qualitative and I feel like that often gets dismissed or not as much clout because it’s not numbers. It’s not an exact science, but marketing is not an exact science. Yeah, so long answer to a shorter question, which is, data has a role to play, certainly, but it’s not everything.

I feel like too many campaigns right now are not necessarily data driven, but data bound. They are bound to hit those numbers. They are bound to do certain things. They ignore everything else and risk poor campaigns, risk poor outcomes because, hey, at least the numbers look good. That’s the fallacy, I would say, that I would warn you guys against. This has been fun. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Leave your questions. I know the team is going to be checking them. I will do my best to answer. Again, thanks so much for joining us on a Thursday evening. If you want me to cover other topics, if you have questions, keep bringing them on because, yeah, I’m excited about this and we’re just getting started.


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