The B2B Roundtable Podcast brings you actionable marketing and sales lessons to help you get better results and drive growth.
Brian Carroll interviews the marketing leaders on topics from B2B marketing, account-based marketing (ABM), B2B sales, sales development reps, content marketing, storytelling, leadership, research, and more.
Brian Carroll is the CEO of markempa and the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, and the B2B Lead Blog which is read by thousands each week.
Brand Activism and Modern Marketing with Dr. Philip Kotler
Customers care more about the values of the companies they buy than ever before.
It’s more than your purpose. It’s more than what you sell.
They want to know what kind of company you are and what do you care about.
Does a company want to do more than drive profits?
That’s why I interviewed Dr. Philip Kotler, who is known as the “father of modern marketing.” He is the S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and co-author of Brand Activism: From Purpose to Action.
In this interview, you will hear Dr. Kotler describe brand activism, the importance of focusing on a purpose as a company, and the problems encountered when companies do not use brand activism correctly.
To start, what is brand activism?
Dr. Kotler: Brand activism is a movement toward making a brand do more than just tout the virtues of a product or a service, its usual function, and to go and even identify some value or values that the company has and cares about.
For example, The Body Shop, when it started under Anita Roddick, she made it her point that she’s not only selling skincare products as a retailer, but she really was also fighting for animal rights, civil rights, fair trade, environmental protection.
So, her brand was active. I don’t mean that all other brands are passive because they do a lot of work, but the implication is that companies carry reputations, and they want to carry a good reputation.
More and more consumers would like to know what kind of company this is, what does it care about.
Our society is saddled with many problems, and does the company care about any of these problems, or does it just think it’s supposed to make money?
An increasing number of companies would like an identity that goes beyond just making the product or service.
And that is what we are calling brand activism, the brand that connects with some cause or causes.
A Lack of Trust in Society
Brian: That’s a helpful distinction. You recently wrote a book on this topic. I’d love to know the story behind why you wrote the book Brand Activism and why now?
Dr. Kotler: I think that, if you look at some barometers, like the Edelman trust barometer, about the level of trust in society today, it’s undoubtedly been falling.
Dr. Kotler: And as a result, many companies are not going to be trusted either, as part of maybe government not being believed, and other institutions.
And companies ought to be the first to fight against bad companies rather than stand near them or be part of them.
So, the idea is that, at this time, companies want to be profiled in a certain way.
In other words, the reputation a company has could be just whatever happens in its course of actions.
Or it could also be something that could be designed better.
What are the different branding stages of development?
Dr. Kotler: And you see, the whole idea of a brand itself has gone through several stages, and that’s very important. I think brand activism is probably the highest stage, but let me tell you what the stages are in my mind.
Brian: That would be great.
Dr. Kotler: Yes. The first stage is when the company simply does its best to feature its product and services.
Now that’s normal. The brand name was an identifier.
Then brands moved into trying to define the company’s positioning, but not social positioning.
Mean people suck in marketing and what to do about it with Michael Brenner
Why does most marketing stink?
According to Michael Brenner, “the reason most of the marketing that we do that stinks and doesn’t work is that some executive with a big ego asked us to do it.”
On top of that, marketers are not in a happy place.
According to MarketingProfs 2019 Marketer Happiness Report, “Only 10% of marketers say they were very fulfilled in their work.” The report looked at the dimensions of feeling fulfilled, valued, energized by the work, that our work is impactful, and engaged.
That’s why I interviewed Michael Brenner (@BrennerMichael), the CEO of Marketing Insider Group to talk about his new book Mean People Suck.
We need more empathy and inside our companies so that we can empathize more with our customers.
According to Michael Brenner, “The most counter-intuitive secret to success in business and life is empathy.” I’m excited to bring his thoughts on empathy to you.
In this interview you’ll learn about asking what’s in it for the customer, rethinking your org chart, and the changes you need to make to be more successful today.
Why did you write Mean People Suck?
Michael: Again, I must give you credit. You were out in front of this empathy topic in marketing.
I think long before me. Kudos to you. It just took me a little longer, but mainly as a content marketer and as a former internal corporate marketer, I reached out to folks that I know that are still living and breathing corporate marketing struggles every day.
And I found a couple of things, number one was that marketers were miserable. It’s like that scene from, I think it’s Poltergeist where the obsessed woman has help written on her. Was it Poltergeist? Anyway, there was a woman possessed, and the words help showed up on her stomach because
I feel like a lot of internal corporate marketers feel that way. They’re miserable.
Why marketers are so miserable?
Michael: When you get down to it, what I’ve found is that it’s mainly because they hate their boss.
They don’t love the corporate culture. They’re not happy with what they’re being asked to do. They feel they don’t have an impact.
When I looked at why content marketing programs aren’t successful, the answer superficially was content ROI. What’s the ROI of content? And if you don’t mind me, I’m not being promotional, but I wrote a book called The Content Formula, All About Content Marketing ROI.
And when I went back to folks, I sent the book to, what I found was that it wasn’t enough. The math isn’t enough to get people over the challenges that we’re facing and how to do marketing that doesn’t suck.
Most marketing stinks for this reason
Michael: The answer is the reason I wrote the book is that most of the marketing that we do that stinks and doesn’t work, is because some executive with a big ego asked us to do it.
Executives love seeing logos on stadiums, and they love seeing super bowl ads, and all the things that we make fun of marketing about primarily come from a request from sales or marketing or product people.
And the companies where content marketing is successful or marketers are happy, they’re making an impact because there’s a culture of empathy. Their cultures don’t suck. The companies don’t suck. The leaders don’t suck. That’s why I wrote the book. Maybe a long-winded explanation, but that’s why.
Why empathy is more important now
Brian: It’s hard for marketers to care about the customer when they don’t feel car...
How to stop the hustle and establish work-life boundaries with Carlos Hidalgo
Has our devotion to work and hustle turned into the UnAmerican Dream?
Some of the hardest working people I know are in sales and marketing.
We often read success stories about how hustle and grit drove fantastic success.
That said, the relentless pursuit of success can leave behind damaged relationships and personal life carnage in its wake.
Take me, for example.
Shortly after building up and selling a successful company, my 17-year marriage ended.
There’s a reason entrepreneurs have a higher divorce rate.
For me. My pursuit of business success left my health and my personal relationships in a severe need of help.
I needed to redefine the kind of life I wanted to live, make different choices, and set better boundaries.
It wasn’t easy.
Now, my health, relationships, and personal and professional happiness are so much better.
That’s why I was excited to interviewed Carlos Hidalgo (@cahidalgo), CEO of VisumCX and author of the new book The UnAmerican Dream.
In this interview, you’ll hear Carlos’s story about finding personal and professional happiness and establishing work-life boundaries.
This is a must-read for sellers, marketers, and entrepreneurs.
Can you tell our listeners a little bit about your background?
Carlos: Yeah. Hey Brian. Always a pleasure to talk to you. I have been in B2B marketing and sales for over 20 years. I think right now it’s about 25 years, which is hard to believe.
I’ve been both client-side, and then in 2005, I co-founded an agency. That agency is still running. I left that agency at the end of 2016, beginning of 2017 to start another business. So, could say I’m a bit of an entrepreneur. I love creating things.
Now, I work with B2B companies in the whole area of customer experience under the new brand VisumCX, and then just wrote my second book.
The first book was on demand generation, so if you ever have insomnia, go for it. You can read that.
But this book was the UnAmerican Dream, which is more my story and a whole lot more personal than the first one.
Why did you write The UnAmerican Dream?
The UnAmerican Dream
Brian: Can you tell the story about why you wrote this book, The UnAmerican Dream, and why now?
Carlos: Yeah, great question. When I left Annuitas, which was the first company that I had co-founded and started, I put a post on LinkedIn about why I was going.
It was more to get back to what I should have been doing in the first place, which was cultivating those meaningful relationships, especially with my children and marriage.
I was struck by the number of calls and emails I got from fellow entrepreneurs and fellow business leaders who were saying,
“So, how did you do this? What steps did you take because I am at my wit’s end? I’m never seeing my family,” or “My marriage is falling apart,” or insert whatever they were going through.
I was shocked.
Wow, this is not just me going through this.
So, that’s why.
But the why now, is the idea of that book came to me over two years ago.
But I needed to work on me first.
I had to get some things straight in me, and one of those things that I start with the introduction, I believe, saying I first had the idea in 2016.
When I told somebody the title, they said, “It sounds like an angry book.”
I believe if I had written it then, it would have been an angry book because I had a lot of things that I had to work through and deconstruct some things that I had held to be true which we...
How to Get Sales and Marketing Operating as One Team with Heidi Melin, CMO of Workfront
Marketing and sales alignment working together as one team is really about the customer.
Why? Because today, buyers are in control.
For this reason, we can no longer have an artificial divide between marketing and sales.
That’s why I interviewed Heidi Melin (@heidimelin), CMO at Workfront on how to get sales and marketing operating as one revenue team.
Brian: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Heidi: Absolutely. I’m a career CMO.
I’ve been in marketing for my entire career, having started really on the advertising side, but mostly focused on fast-growing software businesses.
So, I have recently in the last year joined Workfront and I am the CMO at Workfront.
How can sales and marketing operate as one team
Well, throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to work well with some sales teams, and I’ve also learned my fair share at working with sales teams and marketing teams that don’t align very well.
Also, so all those lessons learned include things like ensuring that the goals are aligned and ensuring that the marketing team has the same goals as the sales team.
And indeed, the marketing team tends to have a broader view of the marketplace on a longer-term view. But the immediate term goals must be aligned.
So being aligned on lead generation or demand goals with the sales teams are critical.
We talk about it inside Workfront as one view of the truth because so many times we’ve all probably sat in meetings with sales and marketing executives and you spend most of the meeting arguing about whether or not the number is right instead of diagnosing what we need to work on to improve.
So, ensuring that you’re working on a common set of numbers is hard.
It sounds straightforward, but it’s hard.
And so that’s one of the things that I think is the key to success–ensuring that measurement and all the programmatic, as well as the process-oriented partnership between sales and marketing, is aligned because it’s one business process.
One business process focused on revenue
The way that I think about it is marketing and sales historically have been thought of as two separate business processes; we talk about it as a critical handoff.
But the way that I think about it is that it’s one business process, and inside a company, it’s really focused on the revenue of your business.
It starts from the time that a marketing team targets a specific customer or prospect, and they raise their hand and ask for more information or engage all the way through to close business. So, it’s one business process, not two separate business processes.
And, oh, by the way, it’s aligned to something way more important than a sales team or a marketing team: it’s aligned to how a buyer buys your product.
And we forget that sometimes, we’re like, “Oh, well the marketing process does this…”
I’m like, oh no, no, no.
We’re just trying to facilitate a buying process.
Flip your focus on the customer
Heidi: Yeah, and so when you flip that, and you look at the focus on the customer, all of sudden marketing and sales from an outreach, from an engagement perspective, has one unified goal, which is to move a buyer through a buying process.
And when you have that change of mindset that becomes important.
I’ve worked in businesses where we focus cleanly on that critical handoff, and that handoff is the most vital piece. And frankly, it’s an essential piece, but it’s not the crucial piece.
Heidi: Yeah, it should support, and we have the tools to help that entire life cycle.
When I first joined Workfront one of the things that we did was as soo...
Bring more innovation to your demand generation now with Jeanne Hopkins
Do you routinely look for ways to drive innovation with your demand generation approach? Or do you feel behind the curve?
According to research by Circle Research, marketers are split. Half of the marketers say they’re “old school,” while the other half believe their approach is innovative.
Circle Research found that most marketers (93%) who describe themselves as innovative say that it has made their marketing more effective. However, 83% of marketers who are lagging plan to bring innovation into their approach this year.
That’s why I interviewed Jeanne Hopkins (@jeannehopkins), CMO at Lola.com, on how marketers can bring more innovation to demand generation.
Share a little bit about your background.
Jeanne: Thanks, Brian. My undergraduate degree is in Accounting.
Believe it or not, the accounting office where I started told me in my annual review that I probably didn’t have a future in accounting because I was too loud for the office. Everything balanced, everything was good, but I was too noisy for a nice, cut-and-dry accounting office.
So, that’s when I moved into toys, and I worked for Milton Bradley Company in their in-house advertising agency. Then I moved to LEGO and then moved into other consulting companies.
I got into the software, which was an internally funded company called Datum E-business Solutions, which delivered a trusted time application.
A long time ago, way back in the year 2000, it used to be that you’d send an email. Maybe somebody would send it again, but it would be like three hours later or three hours before, and that’s because networks were not on the same timing device.
So, the whole concept of having timing and having to be secure became something that became critically important to all networks. From there, selling into IT, B2B technology companies, that sort of thing. So that’s my gig.
What does Lola do?
Jeanne: Lola.com is a corporate travel management solution that allows finance people, office managers, and business travelers themselves to be able to see their full travel details and integrate with an expense platform. I know, Brian, you’ve probably done some expenses before-
Jeanne: You take a picture of the expense, you watch it go into the cloud, you fill out the form, and it takes half an hour or hour and, I bet you avoid it, right? It’s like one of those things-
Brian: It’s something you wait until the last minute to do, and if the reports are due on Monday, you’re doing it Sunday night.
Jeanne: Of course, taking away from family time.
Jeanne: We integrate with Expensify, Concur, a whole bunch of different finance applications, as well as travel. You can book all your travel with us.
We have a complete support network that helps you get checked in and makes sure that when disruptions come up (reroute people, get people back sooner or back later) and any other hiccups that business travelers endure. We’re trying to mitigate that for them.
Brian: I wanted to highlight you because you’ve done so much, you know, since you and I met, and we could date ourselves a bit here but-
Jeanne: That’s okay.
Brian: Way back, as we spoke, I think, at a MarketingSherpa Conference.
Jeanne: 2006, yeah.
Brian: Yeah! I was impressed by you and just how you were bringing innovation and creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking. Also, you’ve continued to do that throughout your career.
Driving more innovation with demand generation
How did you start thinking differently to drive innovation with demand generation?
Why Conversational Marketing and New Book with Dave Gerhardt, VP of Marketing at Drift.com
Traditional sales and marketing methods have failed to keep pace with the way modern B2B buyers purchase goods and services.
Meetings, phone calls, and email are still important B2B channels but how can you have immediate conversations?
Conversational Marketing is about having direct one-to-one conversations to connect with customers and offer help.
By using targeted messaging and intelligent chatbots to engage with leads in real-time (while they’re on your website), you can connect with people in real-time, and convert leads faster.
That’s why I interviewed Dave Gerhardt (@davegerhardt), VP of Marketing at Drift.com and co-author of the new book Conversational Marketing. Dave is also known as DG.
Share a bit of your background and what does Drift do?
DG: So, my background. I don’t even know where to start. I love marketing. I do marketing at Drift. VP of Marketing; been here for three-ish years right since the beginning of the company.
The way that I talk about Drift is that Drift connects you now with the people who are ready to buy now.
Which is a significant change from how traditional marketing typically works, where most of the traditional marketing and sales systems were kinda built for later? Go to my website, fill out this form, and somebody on the team is going to follow up with you later.
But you know, there’s just been a huge shift in the way that we all behave and communicate online, and the now is more important than ever.
I think about walking outside this building: if I called Lyft on my phone, the driver would be there in about one to two minutes, and that’s what we expect from everything. Except in the B2B world, where the rules, for some reason don’t apply to how we actually all do things in real life.
DG: So, our mission at Drift is really to transform the way businesses buy from businesses, and the way that we do that is through conversational marketing.
Brian: Well, that’s awesome! And so, that sets us up actually.
Tell us about Conversational Marketing?
And what motivated you to write the book? Why now?
The reason we wrote the book is that we’ve just heard so much about the power of conversational marketing, we felt it firsthand.
We use conversational marketing and Drift to run our whole business, and we have become one of the fastest growing companies of all time in this industry. And it’s not because we have some secret, but our secret has been we’ve used our own product and really made conversations the center of our business.
And so, as we created this category of conversational marketing and started to educate more people about it late last year, we were like, “You know what? It’s time to write the book.”
We’ve wanted to write a book. We had enough stuff to say and enough case studies and examples and methodologies and playbooks and blueprints, and all that stuff.
And so, you know we said, “Let’s make 2019 the year that we write the book, and really do the best job we can trying to help educate the future of marketing and...
Brian makes it easy to understand and clearly explains how to put technique into action!
Schlockimg instead of knowledge transfer
Mainly marketing for the guest. Limited process and knowledge transfer.
Thought provoking and fresh.
A great marketing podcast! Excited to hear what else Brian Carroll and his guests have to offer.