Mick Jagger said, “You can’t always get what you want.” Penguin’s Shoham Eckhaus says, “If you ask, you just might.” So she aimed for the stars and asked HubSpot’s CMO, Kipp Bodnar, to join her B2B Startup Growth podcast to answer some hard questions about the state of marketing in these tough financial times. He replied, “Absolutely.”
Below are the highlights. (Spoiler: The whole podcast was a highlight!)
How can we overcome the rising costs of digital advertising today?
Bodnar: Demand gen and differentiation.
It costs more for every lead today because there is more competition and more money.
“Sameness only favors the company with the most resources.” Therefore, you must position your company, brand, or product in a highly differentiated way from the competition. This is the first step.
Now let’s take a step back.
Most marketers focus on high-intent activities: Direct response ads, optimizing web and product pages and email marketing. These are necessary tactics – but not sufficient.
“The biggest source of your leads is likely your least cost-effective.”
This is not sustainable. You must make it a “moral imperative” to change this, otherwise you won’t ever scale.
You need to turn your best demand-gen channels into your most cost-effective and highest ROI channels. How? Focus your time on SEO content and YouTube.
This takes time.
But if you effectively differentiate yourself, then you should see your conversions go up.
How can companies build trust?
Bodnar: Trust is low right now. It’s low in newspapers, in television news, and even in branded content. We’re moving to a world where trust will be facilitated by creators, for better or for worse, and by being transparent.
Creators are those who develop niche content around topics. People trust them as a less-biased source than traditional media. It will be hard to build trust without being an active part of the creator economy.
Then there’s transparency: the ultimate way to build trust. There are a number of ways we may evolve in the future, but we’re going to need to be transparent if we want to be trusted.
How can a marketer get ahead of emerging technologies?
Bodnar: With emerging technologies, nobody has 10X knowledge over anybody else. It provides a level playing field, and the best way to get a jump on it is to jump right in. Take NFTs. If you want to learn about them, set up a wallet and explore.
The beauty of emerging technologies is they take time. So you have time even if you don’t get started right away.
How can a marketer land an amazing job like you, CMO of HubSpot?
Bodnar: If you want to massively accelerate your career or your business, you must hold onto what you believe steadfastly to be true while the vast majority of people do not believe it to be true…and you need to be right over time. Here’s what I mean…
In 2007, online marketing was very new and not a given. There were no Twitter or Facebook ads yet. However, I believed social media and SEO to be the future of business marketing. While others didn’t fully understand, I was writing a daily blog on it and studying it. It turned out I was right. This enabled me to meet leaders like HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. . . and it catapulted my career.
If I had dabbled in what everybody else was doing—direct mail and some email—then I wouldn’t be here now.
What is the “new thing” people should double down on now?
Bodnar: I would focus on becoming really great at being a video creator or investing energy in Web 3 and the decentralized web.
YouTube and TikTok present a huge opportunity. Learn how to engage on these channels. Learn how the algorithm works. I might be wrong, but I think the return will be “a life far better than you could ever imagine.” It seems pretty obvious to me that this is the future, and it’s not too late to jump in because change takes a long time.
How do you become great at TikTok?
Bodnar: If you want to be one of the best marketers on TikTok, think basics: understand community and engagement and how to tell a really engaging story in a short period of time. These are great skills to have, and on TikTok, you use them via video.
How to embrace data privacy?
Bodnar: In a world where data privacy is king, having clean, accurate, permission-granted data is everything. This adds a level of technical know-how marketers will need to embrace.
What is the best way to position your brand?
Bodnar: You can say you are 10x better than the competition OR you can say you are a transformational company that’s completely different from everything out there and offering a new thing that people don’t yet know they need.
Both are good paths. (HubSpot took the latter route and was hugely successful.)
Just be clear with yourself about which path you will take, get buy-in from the management, and then develop your story.
Make your story concise.
Give yourself 5 slides to tell it. Your audience should nod their heads at each slide, and this will probably take a lot of iterations.
What are some tips for hiring rockstar marketers?
Bodnar: I believe hiring the right person is not just looking at their experience, but looking at their aptitude for solving problems and collaborating.
I like to ask interviewees this question: If you‘re in a room with 300 strangers, what is the thing you would be better at than everybody else?
While I want to hear the answer, I really want to hear how they explain it to me.
Take playing the piano. If they say they are better than everybody else and can break down playing the piano into understandable segments and in a way that I can understand, then they might have the base set of skills to succeed.
For the full podcast, visit Shoham Eckhaus’ B2B Startup Growth podcast.
by Ira Somers on November 22, 2022
Senior Content Creator and published author