2020 rolled around and marketers had all their plans set in stone. Events were the solid play for most of us. There’s nothing better than getting people together in a room to build those relationships.
Then the arse fell out of the world and every man, woman and dog moved online.
And if everyone is doing it, what’s the point?
So here’s to the rise and fall of the webinar.
I really like events. I do quite a lot of them. But, we had to flip everything on its head last year moving from physical to virtual, and it proved one thing: nothing stands still forever. So, what is the best way of running events in 2021?
It’s the start of a new year, and we’re marketers, so you know what that means! A predictions episode!
We thought it would be cool to look forward to what is coming in 2021 because if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that predicting the future is easy!
For what was a pretty shit year, there’s an awful lot of marketers putting out 2020 round-up posts - but thankfully we’re yet to see any proclaiming this is the year of mobile.
And, not being ones to want to focus on the past, for our first episode back in the new year, we’re looking at our plans and predictions for 2021 - kind of like a shit world cup octopus.
Brand is fun. It’s at the rock n roll end of the marketing spectrum.
Brand can put you at the front and centre of someone's mind.
It can endear and align you with your buyers and it can help to move from customer to champion.
But how do you balance it with demand? How do you turn brand into revenue?
It’s the never-ending argument any marketer will face. How do you justify brand spend - stuff that you may never see a direct ROI from? And when does this stop mattering and the direct return has to come?
A lot gets made of the content and message in marketing. We talk about who we should be targeting. We talk about when we should be targeting them. But we rarely talk about the energy in marketing.
So this week, the question is, how can marketers use ‘energy’ in their marketing?
Energy is a bit of an ‘x’ factor in marketing. It’s something that can have a profound effect in the obvious arenas of events and webinars, but is rarely a choice we make as marketers for stuff such as email marketing or on our website.
You could be authentic, positive or scary and intimating. So, can we move ‘energy’ into the world of conscious and what effect does it have?
It’s one of the oldest marketing channels we have available.
It’s been used, abused and marketers have seen diminishing returns for years - to the point where we’re seen more than one gob shitey blog post stating “email is dead”...
But just because some think it… doesn’t mean it’s true.
So what should email look like in 2021?
Spoilers here: I love email marketing. It’s been the consistent factor across my career, and to be honest, it hasn’t changed that much since I started marketing 8 years ago. But, how do we make the most of the opportunities the channel presents?
Nearly a year ago now, I sent Joe a WhatsApp message asking if he was up for doing a podcast. Something that would be a bit of fun where we could chat about marketing.
But it took a spot of home confinement during lockdown to actually get us to record anything.
Fast forward to today, and we’ve started to grow it into something far bigger than we’d anticipated. It’s started to become a community.
And now, it’s become an event.
With one summit down, we’ve already learnt a lot and in this episode, we thought we’d share the things we learnt (and ballsed up).
So what did we learn about putting on an event of this scale with brands such as Privy, Drift, and the NHS, and what will we do better next time we run a summit (next March)?
Marketing in 2020 has been a wild ride.
There’s been some ups, some downs, some backs, some forwards… Plans were drawn up, torn apart, reworked and scrapped.
Some marketing teams have thrived - some have ultimately fallen.
So, with new lockdowns being announced, politics heating up and economies slowing, speeding up and slowing again… what does a marketing strategy in 2021 look like?
Marketing strategies for me has always been about what stays the same. But, of course, in 2021, there will be some trends that take over the world. So how do you write a strategy that provides a rock-solid foundation for the future, while preparing yourself for whatever comes your way over the year?
For those of you who don’t know Joe, he’s one of the nice guys in marketing - literally, he’s built his career and reputation on being, and I quote “positively lovely”...
Over the past 5 years, Joe took a hobby and turned it into an Anglo-American community with nearly twenty thousand members - and from there he turned it into a thriving business.
Built on the principle of bringing marketers together, Joe’s business revolved and thrived around physical events.
And then COVID came along and changed the game.
So, this episode is going to take a closer look at how one business managed to pivot and accelerate its growth in a time of complete chaos and how marketing and positioning played a huge part in that.
Being human in your approach to marketing is important. People don’t want to feel like they’re being marketed to and they don’t want to feel like they’re just another marketing metric.
When we humanise our marketing, people respond to it, people engage with it and people remember it. But what does human marketing look like?
It’s all well and good us singing the praises of being more human in our approach to marketing - but what’s the framework, how is it different from the norm?
In this episode, Rich and Joe are going to talk through their early thoughts on what should make up a human marketing framework. Sort of.
Recently, Joe went all ‘fluffy’ marketer on LinkedIn and made the statement “kindness sells” - and adaption of the old ad-land adage, sex sells. But, does it? Does being kind drive ROI or is it just verbose marketing bullshit?
With the world going through various chaotic events, it feels like we could all do with more kindness - more humans being nice to each other.
And, it feels like being kind is a differentiator that is likely to help us sell more. But… what did I mean, and is Joe just a fluffy marketer?
We’ve all seen it. The streams of verbal diarrhoea, thought leadership and look at me now content. And most of us are guilty of it.
But when everyone is scrambling for their share of ‘personal brand’ where does that leave the landscape? What happens to a channel when everyone is doing the same thing? And importantly, as with everything else, are marketers ballsing up another perfectly good channel?
Linkedin has been a mainstay of growth throughout the ups and downs of 2020. Those with something to say have found it relatively easy to find their community to amplify their messages in.
We have talked about it a lot - the importance of creating and nurturing personal brand…
But when every marketer and salesperson with a laptop or mobile phone has the same idea, how does a channel like Linkedin continue to provide value?
Over the last week, we have been forced to self reflect.
We are both white-skinned and male. And, that has obviously benefited us throughout our lives and in our careers. The events of the last week have made us question how we can be better.
Not being racist, is not enough. It’s never been enough and we want to support that in whatever small way we can. Now is not the time for people to hear our voices, but for us to help amplify the voices of the black community around us.
While our intentions are good, we may not get this right. One thing we do think we can do, however, is share things that have helped us.
On our website, humanscomefirst.co.uk, you’ll find a link to a series of resources we’ve found useful.
We’ll see you next week.
It feels like Coronavirus has been going on for a million years now, but really it’s only been ten weeks for us in the UK. While we’re now starting to see the green shoots of normality return, this disruption has taught us a lot… as people, as business owners, as marketers.
While we’re at risk of being part of the rush of ‘ten things I learned from Coronavirus’ articles that we be swamping Linkedin in the coming weeks and months, we thought it would be a useful exercise to look back and examine what we’ve learned.
Over the last few months, we’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s been a wild, sometimes exciting, sometimes mundane ride, but both of us have learnt a lot, about ourselves, about our businesses and about the people we communicate with and sell to.
So, for our tenth episode, we decided to get reflective again… and look at the top six things we’ve learnt about marketing and running a business during a crisis.
We all have things we like and those things that we don’t. Things that don’t appeal to some, will endear you to others.
We all have tastes and preferences and whether it’s conscious or not, we form opinions based on our beliefs and experiences. It’s what makes us human.
So why then do we often fall into the trap of needing our work liked by all?
Some of the best messages of our time have nailed one concept: this thing we’re doing, it is made for you. The implication is that the same thing isn’t right for others.
Yes, it’s about target market, but it’s also about being strong enough in your convictions to know that if the message is challenged, you don’t feel the need to buckle.
We all want to be famous for our work, right? Get thousands of likes on every post. Have millions attend your webinars. Pick up awards for world-changing marketing. But, at the end of the day, if your activity is making you famous, but not affecting business results, something is going wrong.
Most business decisions are made by one or a few key individuals in a company. So rather than marketing for reach, what happens when we flip the narrative and focus on the individuals?
Account-based marketing, or ABM, recognises that a few key contacts are going to be those that make the difference between a yes, and a no when it comes to working together. An ABM strategy doesn’t bother with hitting the big numbers: it focuses on creating something far more meaningful: a proper relationship.
In this episode, we explore our own experiences of ABM, what we’ve done well, and what we can do differently in the future.
Leading a business, team or organisation can be challenging at the best of times.
Leading in a time of crisis takes it to a whole new level. But as leaders are we actually aware of the toll that’s having on us personally, our families or the team around us?
We’ve spent weeks fire fighting, plugging holes and making new plans. As marketers, we’ve been dancing between survival mode and looking for opportunities.
It’s been adrenalin fuelled but what happens when that first wave of excitement runs out?
Where we find ourselves now is a lull - for many, it’s become mundane and the adventure has run out. Is now the time to be re-evaluating the longer term strategy? And should we be preparing for second wave of excitement?
Growing a business can be challenging and the benefit of hindsight really is 20/20… but what would we do if we knew what we know about growth now, then. How would we do it differently if we got to play it all out?
Marketing, sales and business growth has certainly changed over the past few years - and, at a guess, both of us have made considerable mistakes along the way.
We’ve tried marketing tactics we’re not proud of. Tested channels that burnt through money and tried services that were doomed to fail. But, importantly, we tried and we learnt.
In this episode, Joe and Rich are going to do a bit of reminiscing… about all the things we’ve ballsed up and how we would do it differently, knowing what we now know about marketing and sales.
Today we do something different. We discuss something sent in by a listener who has asked us to identify at what point in history marketing went wrong. The point where we stopped looking at customer needs and relationships and started focusing on automation and depersonalised tactics. It's a big one, but let's dive in.
On one level, this is precisely why we started this podcast: a general feeling that some people were getting it wrong, or probably more accurately, that there is part of us who thinks we're right.
Phil McSweeney donated the topic for today, citing an example where despite the corona pandemic, he received an email from a company (Groupon) offering restaurant codes and from another company (TripAdvisor) using him to rate holiday destinations. Clearly this is jarring in how wrong it is.
Despite these examples, and perhaps this is just my bubble, but I do see and hear a lot of marketers using words like empathy, caring, relationships and more.
So are we just talking a big game and not delivering meaning is marketing just wrong, or is it a case of some ruining it for the many?
With businesses all over the world becoming severely hampered as a result of lockdown measures, brand-building has become one of the most important activities that every marketer should focus on as we ride out this pandemic. While few would disagree with this advice, many are at a loss on what this means on a practical level. How can we build our brand amidst these uncertain times?
Margaret Molloy, Global CMO of Siegel+Gale, defines brand as “a promise kept”. Branding encompasses much more than just the business’s aesthetic or looks (ex. logo, colour palette, etc.). Branding is more so about the experience that customers or clients have when they interact with the company throughout the marketing cycle.
The brand experience includes culture, ethos, and people. It does not aim to reach potential customers logically but, rather, emotionally. The value of the product, therefore, is not found in the product itself, but in how the product is perceived. “We want to create an ‘unboxing’ experience with our services,” says Richard. “What we want is for somebody to enjoy the process of working with us so much that what we actually deliver becomes irrelevant.”
Coronavirus still grips the global economy. Restaurants and shops are closed. Kath Kidson and Debenhams are going into administration. Airlines are being bailed out and across the world, paid media budges are being slashed.
In this episode, we tackle the question ‘is B2C marketing completely f*cked, and if not, what can marketers do right now to not alienate the people that they’re trying to sell to?’
We discuss how people presently engage with bricks and mortar B2C, and how Covid-19 will force innovation in this sector, particularly in the way of creating experiences for customers. We look at the examples of Apple and Tesla who have already pioneered this approach.
Wrapping up, we look to the future, stating what B2C marketers can do in the short and long term to make the most of their marketing.
The year is 2020, and people are sat at home bored, anxious, and sometimes alone. The answer to this is 'community'. But, with more and more corporates looking to use the word community in their activity: what does that really mean these days, and what are the implications for marketers?
Communities are groups of people who come together with the intention of helping one another, lifting one another up, and being stronger than they would be alone. At it's best, the community has the ability to be a truly touching, and very human experience. The best communities are those where everyone contributes.
A community only lives up to it's billing when it is pure in intention and facilitates cross-communication between folks who might be able to help each other. In this way, corporates supersede a transactional relationship and instead become the heart of the conversation.
In this episode, Microsoft, Drift and HubSpot are upheld as examples of companies who put this into action successfully.
As a brand, it’s more important than ever before to have empathy for our customers. Some companies are using the current crisis as a sleazy excuse to push promotional sales, which is not only tasteless and unethical but has no long-term benefit to the brand, to begin with.
If you’re a business owner, you must be willing to reframe your expectations moving forward. Your focus during this time shouldn’t be on the financial gain but on brand-building. Show your audience what you stand for as a brand through your messaging and actions. The key is to frame your interactions as human to human, and not client to business.
Also, while it’s always important to err on the side of caution when it comes to marketing amidst the COVID-19 crisis, this is also a great opportunity to experiment with your approach as a brand. Throw mud on the wall and see what sticks. Just keep in mind that it is now easier than ever for your audience to see through manipulative marketing; so as long as your message is authentic and consumer-focused as opposed to merely profit-focused, your business has a much higher chance of thriving as the world moves towards the new normal.