The Conundrum of Marketing to a Marketer: Q&A with Katie Martell, On-Demand Marketing Consultant
Authentically connecting and persuading our peers can be one of the hardest parts of being a marketer. Marketers know every tactic you’ll try and see right through even the most honest marketing. This requires that our marketing efforts always go above and beyond.
To better understand this target audience, we sat down with Katie Martell, who has built brands and buzz for nearly 10 years as the CMO/Co-founder of Cintell and in marketing leadership roles at Aberdeen Group, Version 2.0 Communications, and NetProspex. She has been recognized as one of the top marketing writers on LinkedIn, #3 most influential B2B marketer on Twitter, a “marketing expert to follow” by CIO Magazine, one of 20 Women to Watch in sales lead management, and has spoken at industry events including TEDx, Business Marketing Association, MarketingProfs B2B Summit, FutureM with Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, DX Summit, and numerous more.
Martell shared some of her best experiences and insights below. For continued insights, debates, and laughs, follow her on Twitter at @KatieMartell.
How do you overcome the conundrum of marketing to a marketer?
It’s certainly not easy, but it’s something that has made me a better marketer by the nature of the high standards that it requires. Marketers are aware of what’s happening. They’re persnickety buyers. They have very high standards not only for the content messaging, but also for the experience they have with your whole company. On the vendor side, it’s really hard for us to now differentiate even within the subcategories, because there’s so much noise. It’s really hard to stand up and say exactly why you are different than the eight other vendors that are doing the exact same thing.
Marketers are looking for proven value, and whether you’re a startup or well-established company, you need to be able to show an extremely clear path to ROI. If I’m going to spend a dollar with a company, I need to know what’s going to come out the other end. You have to really help me drive real numbers, real lists, or it’s just multiple distractions, kind of “nice to have” over “need to have.”
To me, it’s table stakes to inspire marketers. We need to do a good job leading by example, and to do the kind of marketing that marketers love, which means rising to a different level. With over 3,000 marketing technology vendors, how many have the exact same concepts? I could take the logos off white papers, blog posts, or even the thing that’s supposed to sell the products, and you would not be able to tell me which vendor it was. They all look and sound and feel the same. You have to be creative. You have to be on-brand. You have to be clear and compelling. You have to add value — there’s no room for fluff.
Where have you seen the most success in connecting with marketers?
For us, the most successful tactic that has worked with marketers at the early stage is creating content that is educational in nature. This seems obvious, but not every marketer understands the difference between educational and fluffy. Educational material that just has more of the same information that other thought leaders are saying is not helpful. You need to share really actionable, practical content. Marketing technology is constantly evolving. I’m always interested to learn not only about the technology, but how others are using it, how they are measuring it, and what they wish they could have avoided. It’s kind of like taking that real-world experience, battle testing it, and turning it into content.
Marketers are kind of overwhelmed with how quickly things are changing — especially those who have been doing this for 20 or 30 years. Today, everything’s different. It’s a whole new world, and not just in digital marketing, but also the way in which people buy. I always think, “Is this actually different, new, useful, and actionable? Can somebody take a highlighter and say, ‘I can do something with this today”? If so, that’s the kind of stuff that works.
Even tactically for us, webinars are fantastic. It’s an hour of time that I treat as a very serious professional development with other marketers. I find myself extremely disappointed when I attend a webinar and it’s just more of the same obvious advice. I love the webinars that have multiple speakers that are each required to get the points across quickly with real examples and give actionable tips. Further down the buyer’s journey, case study webinars that talk about how something was built, break it down, and then share the results – that’s the kind of stuff that gets a marketer’s attention.
What are three things marketers should remove or add to their marketing repertoire?
1. Stop trying to be something and someone you’re not. Be confident and be okay being yourself. Marketers see right through it since we’re all reading the other content. We can see when you’re ripping off someone else, but you can mimic successful companies in your own voice and style.
2. Be helpful. Be real. And don’t oversell because these are your people. We’re all learning as we go in this world of marketing, and if you’re going to oversell something, you’re only going to ruin your own reputation. We are our companies. We represent our brand, and we have to be able to stand behind the things that we market because, again, we’re selling us.
There are plenty of people that don’t care, and those are the ones that I think limit themselves and their reputation. Overselling can only win you short-term gains. Long-term loyalty exists when you’re honest with people — even about your shortcomings. Doug Kessler has a great talk about the power of being insanely honest, where you admit (and even make fun of) your shortcomings. If you’re being honest upfront, your potential customers are more likely to be okay with them later on, rather than having to find out themselves and feel like they were duped.
3. Be willing to be bold and daring. A great example of this is when we went to the MarketingProfs event in Boston several years ago. It was the first year we were in business, and the sponsorship was almost the majority of my budget at the time. I knew I had to get something huge out of it. So, instead of focusing on the exhibitor hall where we’d be competing with the rest of the attendees with goodie bags and “Wheel of Fortune” type of gimmicks, we did something completely different and ended up getting an unprecedented amount of awareness.
We actually booked a live marching band to go around (before the first keynote so we didn’t interrupt anything) during the breakfast in the exhibit hall. We connected with a local non-profit, seven-person marching band, led by our CEO and branded with Cintell gear.
We had them walking around the whole event playing popular songs from Lady Gaga and Katy Perry in marching band formation — through the exhibit hall, the breakfast room, the lobby of the hotel, etc. Everyone loved it because it was so different and shared live videos of it on social media. It was really just an attention-getting ploy, but it was one that I think was well-received by this audience because it was bold and daring, and it went outside of what the other exhibitors were trying to do. It’s so crowded out there that you have to be willing to be bold to earn the attention of marketers. It’s like saying, “What the heck are you going to look at? Everything that you see in marketing is ‘been there, done that.’ What can you do that’s different? Go for it.”
Want other insights on how we can influence our peers? Join us this Thursday, July 28th, for our session with TapInfluence’s Head of Growth, Joseph Cole, on how to acquire the marketing buyer. Register below!