June 23, 2022

HubSpot CMO: Sailing Above the Sea of Sameness

Unbeatable B2B brands are those that dare to be distinct. That’s the theme of this episode with HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar, a differentiation pro who has been with the brand as it’s grown into a global marketing behemoth with over 7K employees and an impressive reputation.

Tune in for a lesson in courageous strategy, as Kipp shares (1) why HubSpot decided to acquire a media business and how it’s working out for them and (2) the story behind HubSpot’s first-ever global ad campaign with… Kathryn Hahn as a pirate!?

Listening to this episode will give you an extra, fun boost to your day and hopefully inspire some bold moves for your business. No matter where you are in your brand or marketing journey.

What you’ll learn:

  • Why HubSpot acquired a media company and ran an ad about pirates
  • How to create content that cuts through
  • Why B2B brand awareness matters

Resources Mentioned


  • [00:20] Renegade Marketing on Amazon
  • [02:05] Introducing Kipp
  • [04:05] Behind HubSpot’s acquisition of The Hustle
  • [09:40] Why ditch ad revenue?
  • [11:20] Why you need content guardrails (versus guidelines)
  • [14:00] How to create content that cuts through
  • [17:30] Scaling and measuring HubSpot’s influence
    • [18:53] Ad Break: CMO Huddles
  • [20:00] Behind HubSpot’s pirate ad
  • [27:50] “The #1 tested software ad in the last 2 years”
  • [30:30] B2B brands, you can be funny, too!
    • [33:06] B2B Market Research: Renegade is waiting for you
  • [34:24] Activating a big brand campaign
  • [35:22] Budgeting for ad campaigns
  • [37:35] Brand campaign = more organic search results?
  • [39:07] Measuring HubSpot’s campaign
  • [42:51] Kipp’s lessons learned: Running a global brand campaign

Highlighted Quotes

“Owned media is better than rented media because of the vertical integration. When you own the whole stack, you can control the ad unit, message, editorial, everything in a much better way.“ —@kippbodnar @HubSpot Click To Tweet ”If you want to have a durable investment & really change your brand perception & awareness long-term, you have to get aligned on the goals you’re tracking. If we're not making progress to those, why aren't we making progress & what… Click To Tweet

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 298 on YouTube

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Kipp Bodnar

Drew: We don’t often have repeat guests on this show unless that COO has moved to another company, but today we’re rewriting those rules. Because the last time I spoke with Kipp Bodnar CMO of HubSpot was episode 96. Almost four years ago. And in that intervening period, HubSpot has grown from roughly 2000 employees to over 7,000 employees has expanded from a us centric, small business CRM to a global marketing platform for businesses of almost all sizes and HubSpot marketing has evolved a lot as well.

Sure. They’re still a leader in deploying inbound marketing a term. This. Coin, but now they’re also spending big on advertising. So when this show we’re going to explore what it really takes to get your B2B content, to cut through whether it’s inbound or advertising. And with that, I’m thrilled to welcome back Kipp Bodnar.

Hey, Kipp, how are you?

Kipp: Hey drew. I’m doing well, man. How are

Drew: you? I am great at really great. Now you’ve been at HubSpot for over 12 years. It’s been a wild ride. I mean, and, and the CMOs role for half of that, I mean, come on, can

Kipp: you believe that? I know. I feel like I don’t know what’s going on. I feel like most CMOs only last a couple of years, so I’m, I’m, I’m blessed and lucky that I get to still do this, you know, I think

Drew: it’s amazing.

You know, one of the keys to that is part of it. You’ve had the same CEO almost for the whole time.

Kipp: We just got a new CEO about, uh, last summer. So she’s, she Yamani, who is amazing, has been CEO for a little less than a year, but she was my direct boss, our chief customer officer running the go to market before that.

So Brian and Yamini and Dharmesh, Brian and Dharmesh, our founders Yemenis is our CEO. They do an amazing job helping, helping the.

Drew: Yeah, no doubt, no doubt at all. So I’m just sort of thinking back over your career. This is obviously been a great job. I’m wondering if you can remember the worst job you

Kipp: ever.

Uh, the, and there’s, there’s a lot of bad jobs. The worst job I ever had was I worked at enterprise rent, a car straight out of college. And it’s not that that’s a bad organization. It’s just, the hours are terrible. And you were dealing with like people at their worst. You know, when you need a rental car, people are not chipper.

When they need a rental car, they are not happy when they need a rental car. And that was by far, I think probably the worst. I can

Drew: just see it because you know, you’re tense. You’re maybe with enterprise, you’re maybe traveling with your family there’s logistical issues and there’s so much uncertainty and you just take it out on.

Whoever happens to

Kipp: be working here, the poor person behind the desk who is going as fast as they can. That’s the hard part of it. Oh my God. All right.

Drew: Well, so relatively speaking, you know, see him. Okay. Get it. Big upgrade. It’s an upgrade. Let’s start the conversation with the acquisition of the hustle, which I think was early 20, 20.

I was not really familiar with the property. Talk a little bit about the strategy behind that. Was this something you had been thinking about beforehand where you said, gee, it’d be really great to up our game or was it more opportunity? Yeah.

Kipp: So, so, so we started, you know, with this notion of inbound marketing, you know, 15 plus years ago, and that was all about, you know, companies becoming publishers and creating valuable content that wasn’t directly about their product or service, but was really instructional inspirational educational type of content.

And we didn’t did that for a long time through blogs, e-books webinars, our HubSpot academy, we’d made a bunch of progress and we looked up one day. And we said, wow, you know, the world is continuing to change. And people are consuming across a much broader format and frequency of things than they were when we got started.

And some of those big trends were podcasting as you and I are doing right now. Uh, another one is we trends were daily email newsletters, and like how you have like industry newsletters to learn about your market or the business world and in the YouTube tick talk, there’s a whole host of them. And so we set out to say, okay, Well, we’ve got some weaknesses in areas and let’s admit what we don’t know and bring on some people who are world-class at this and can help us build something remarkable.

So we acquired the hustle for primarily two reasons that they have a hustle daily newsletter, which reached at the time, I think about a million and a half people every day. And it’s all about business updates and education on a daily basis. And then the second part was. Podcasts that Sam, the founder and his friend Sean had done called my first million, which was all about entrepreneurship and growing and building and scaling businesses.

And we said, oh, if we want to launch a podcast network, we need a really, we need a handful of really great shows to start. We were huge fans of my first million. Bring the hustle daily newsletter. Let’s bring my first million into HubSpot and kind of expand from inbound marketing. Really think about ourselves as a, as a business media organization, that’s trying to engage business leaders.

Decision-makers users all around.

Drew: As I’m thinking about this, and you know, this part of this is you went from being a small brand boy back when to being a big brand and suddenly as a big brand, you had to have a lot more reach. And it’s just sort of, in some ways, had to up your game. So strategically, it was like we could keep investing in doing it this way, or we could take a great leap forward.

So, I mean, a million, half newsletter subscribers on a daily basis is kind


Kipp: a mess. We’ve grown that almost 2 million growing. When you do these deals, you’ve got to keep investing. You’ve got to keep making them, you know, really substantial, you know, on the podcast network, we launched the podcast network in may of 2021.

We launched with nothing. Now we have 36 shows and about 8 million downloads every month and are on our way to being, uh, one of the most successful business podcast networks in the world. And that’s what we’re trying.

Drew: Amazing. And so, and all of that equals reach yes. For HubSpot. And that’s,

Kipp: let’s do things it’s reached for HubSpot, but it’s also serving our audience and our community in the channels they want to be served in.

We really started with that customer centric of, oh, well, we started really distributing our information on Google and that’s great, but now people really diversify past Google. And so how do we interact with their life wherever they want. To interact with us. And so whether that be the depth of engagement of listening to an ASA podcast, whether that be a brand ad, whether that be an amazing blog, post and academy, email newsletter, there’s a, there’s a whole host of ways to do that.

We’re trying to have just a great kind of balanced coverage across all of it.

Drew: So for the cats, fans of courageous, artful, thoughtful and scientific, I think it takes courage to go out and. Publication of any kind of

Kipp: an interesting board meeting drew, I’ll

Drew: tell you that. Well, I don’t want to hear about that because the rationale is, I mean, you know, whatever, let’s just say that, I mean, media companies aren’t necessarily that profitable, but they have a revenue stream and you got to pay, I’m going to guess six X of that.

And then you have to say to the board, oh, but it’s worth it because well, most

Kipp: media company valuations are in the one to three multiple, so it’s a slower, it’s a slower, multiple. It’s a, it’s a w if it’s an ad supported business, that’s a tough, that’s a tougher business, you know? And there are some things we had to do.

One is we knew. We’d have to get rid of the ad revenue because that wasn’t a value to us. And we had to make that call and we had to get okay with that plan. And the next thing we had to do was really understand how we’re gonna integrate the brand, the properties create this cohesive experience and how that would all work.

And the other thing we need to do is we knew we couldn’t just like dance around and test. We knew once we did it, we would set off. A chain effect where a lot of people would ensue and follow a similar playbook. And if we didn’t go out and do something that was very substantial, those options would be.


Drew: the courage factor. Again, no testing involved. You just got to jump into the water and see

Kipp: encourages bolstered by, you know, potential risk. And you look at the, you look at the risk. The risk was going to be huge. If we did something really small and then enough people saw that, that they went and took the big swings before.

Drew: And as I’m thinking about it. So now we talk about, you know, artful ideation and you immediately went to, we had to remove the ads and I thought that’s a really interesting decision or the ad revenue. And why was that important?

Kipp: Because if you look at a media business, it’s trying to sell ad revenue, uh, which is a fine business model.

One of the best business models that exist is subscription software. It’s a high margin business. It’s really affect a business model. That’s what we sell. And so we said, well, why would we take time or after. To sell media when we could sell subscription software. Right? And part of our thesis is owned.

Media is better than rented media because of the vertical integration. It’s not that rented media is an awesome, are important. It’s that when you own the whole stack, you can control the ad unit. You can control the message. You can integrate the editorial, everything in a much, much better way. And to be able to have the kind of full integration of experience we needed to get rid of the advertising, the current advertisers.

Drew: Interesting. And of course that actually enhances the experience for most people. So that’s of course that’s a good thing. I mean, you shut out all the advertisers that may have been used to use the property. You know, the idea of a brand buying a media property is not new at all. It’s one of those things that’s been going on.

And, you know, I mean, the soap operas came from, you know, literally were productions of P and G and lever brothers. And then, you know, years back Adobe bought cmo.com. But they kind of, in my opinion, that property went from something that was actually worth reading to something that is no longer worth reading.

Pardon my honesty, but how are you going to make sure that the quality of the media, the content stays as good as it was before?

Kipp: I have the right answer. That question. You have to understand the current creator driven economy that we’re in. Right? And you have to understand people who create it is hard.

Like I’m a creator at heart. My very first job at HubSpot was running the HubSpot blog. I host a podcast market against the grain on our podcast network. Like I create every day. It is hard. It is painful. You have to love it. You have to have unique point of view. And you have to have autonomy, right? You have to have autonomy to take your ideas to the market and to not have your point of view water down.

And so I think when any organization screws that up is when they give people guidelines, instead of guard rails, our job is to give anybody who creates with us guardrails, you know, like we’re not a brand or a company. Defames and puts people down. That’s a guardrail. I’m not going to tell you. You have to talk about these specific topics.

We have to talk about these products or these specific categories or whatever. Now do what is interesting solve for the consumer of your story, but do so within some pretty broad guardrails to do it in a way that’s awesome. Positive and additive to.

Drew: Love those guard rails important distinction between the two.

It’s interesting. I, I think I saw a statistic. I can’t remember exactly, but that the number of new podcast episodes that come out every day, it’s scary. And by the way, for anyone listening, I’m so grateful that you’re here and I’m hoping you’re getting value out of every single episode. And we work hard to do that.

I’m curious because you guys were in the business of creating content. You’ve been doing it so well for so long yet it was even hard for you to create content that cuts through why is this so damn hard. You talk about the podcast

Kipp: specifically to

Drew: know just general, just, I mean, this is, you know, one of the things that was so interesting.

I’ll talk about CML huddles in a second, but over the, in the first part of the pandemic, the first six months, everybody switched to all digital all the time. And actually things were pretty good for a lot of companies. And then I would say somewhere around September of 2021, this wall, this digital fatigue just became overwhelming and suddenly not everyone, but a lot of brands saw webinar performance going down, downloads, going down, you know, website.

Overwhelming. And the thing that I saw was just this avalanche, this crazy amount of content. So I know it’s about the volume is out there, but I’m just, I’m wondering, what does it take today? Right now? The bar is higher than it was a year ago to actually. Content in the hands of a prospect or customer that is actually something that they’ll look

Kipp: at.

It takes a couple of things. I’ll start with content formats and I’ll tell, I’ll tell you what it takes. I think the first framework you have to understand is that. More depth of engagement you have with an audience podcast, webinars, something where people are really deeply engaging with you versus a blog post or an article or something.

The distributions just harder. Those things are just on opposite ends of the spectrum. The more engagement, the harder that format of content is did it to district. The less, the engagement, the easier that content is to distribute. And so once you kind of have that heuristic in your head, then you have to say, okay, well, how do I stand out?

And, you know, we w we kind of obsess over is like, how do we get out of the sea of sameness? And differentiation is. Job one. So first is differentiation. The second is you have to hustle and, and understand the specific platforms and everything. Like we launched a podcast network because we know to distribute podcasts, you have to reach other podcasts listeners.

And so you have an, if you have a network where you can cross promote listeners across different shows, you can grow the entire. Infrastructure of the network versus having a few shows or one show that you’re just kind of struggling and kind of limping along to go. And then those shows that exist have to be different in very meaningful ways.

I love your podcast. If I was going to come on and do another marketing podcast as an interview podcast with really thoughtful questions I wasn’t going to do as good of a job as you or anything else. Right? So like when Karen and I came on to do our podcasts, like we play games. No, We did last week, we rolled an entire round of monopoly board and did an analog for marketing for every property, because it’s the only, like the only way you can do something like fundamentally different.

It’s not for everybody. And to, to get out of that CSA newness, you have to be. What am I not for? And who am I not for? And you have to be okay being for some group of people and not for another group of people. And we try to be very explicit as like this piece of content, this story, this medium, this creator, who are they for?

And who are they not, how do we have a good balance of that at large, across the, the media network?

Drew: To remind everyone in the, in the courageous part of, uh, I think hat’s framework, there is the line dare to be distinct entire chapter on that. And if you don’t, your content is not just like your brand is not going to cut through.

So, all right. You’ve now had this property for a year. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you

Kipp: a year ago? You know, creating stuff as hard. I think we actually think we did a pretty good job knowing what we were getting into, but scaling media is hard, like managing community, getting the programs, compensation, everything, right.

For people who create, whether they work for your organization or they’re a partner with your organization, it’s hard. And there’s like just a lot of legwork to get that right. And to give clarity to everybody like that is the biggest thing. And it takes a lot longer to integrate than your. You think you can magically integrate these properties overnight and you can’t, it’s going to take us a year to integrate them, you know, and is what it is, but you still get a ton of value in the meantime, but it is what it is.

Drew: How do we measure

Kipp: success? Will you measure success of anything based on the goals you have going into the. And our goals were obstensively. How do we really scale our influence and have really cost-effective influence? And I can tell you, we get massive amount of the equivalent of influence dollars at a much higher, like quality.

Like if you look at brand awareness, brand sentiment for us really scaled dramatically and we’re ahead of our head of our goals there. And the second thing we said is, We want to get to the point where we reach our entire market. We need to reach a hundred million business leaders and decision makers all around the world and users all around the world.

And we have to believe we’re on a path to growing a media organization, to get us there. And we think we are. And as long as we stay on that path and we can keep building towards that path, then the return on this is very successful for us. I mean, some things are just strategic imperatives. Some things are imperatives, both.

Drew: The one takeaway that I have for the listeners is if you don’t have a brand tracking of some way or another, get one, make it and figure it out because you need to know where your brand is from an awareness standpoint,

Kipp: once or twice a year, having some baseline, aided awareness, doing some, some quick surveys or some of the Google, uh, awareness tracking tools.

If you’re a Google advertiser, very good. Uh, you can get really good proxy.

Drew: We’re going to take a break. And when we come back, we’re going pirate. So stay with us.

VO: If you

Drew: don’t mind, I’d like to plug CMO huddles launched in 2020. CMO huddles is an invitation only subscription service that brings together elite B2B CMOs to shh. Care and dare each other to greatness. See them all. Huddles is a force multiplier. Give us an hour a month and we guarantee 10 hours back in time saved, helping you to make faster, better, and more informed decisions.

If you’re a B2B CMO that can share and care with the best of them, this is Samwell huddles.com. Watch your new explainer video or hit me up on linked. To see if you

VO: qualify.

Drew: Okay. We’re back. You know, this is kind of content, but this is a big switch because we went from you launched your first global advertising, advertising and putting. Advertising campaign

Kipp: and not just advertising brand advertising yet, which we hadn’t done brand

Drew: advertising. And they came to my attention because I’d have to show this because I still actually subscribed to a physical magazine,

Kipp: physical magazines called

Drew: this one’s called fast company.

And you guys did a little cover takeover and I saw the pirate and then like literally turned on the television to watch some sporting event. And there was. The campaign you tells

Kipp: me we’re doing a very good job reaching our target market. True. So we’re getting to you that clearly. Yes,

Drew: you, you, you got me with the least two touches and I would say in the first month of the campaign, you probably got me with six.

So, so your, your reaches is good, but let’s go back. Take me back to when the strategic part of this behind the campaign walked through the sequence of events, where did you see.

Kipp: I’m a first principles person. I just obsess over principles at HubSpot. We, we build and sell a CRM platform. It’s amazing. It’s great product.

It’s powerful. It’s easy to use and it’s gotten really good and it’s gotten really powerful and we’ve kind of continued to move more and more up market. And what’s interesting and what’s interesting is we serve kind of this awesome small, medium sized businesses. At one end of our market, we saw sort of, kind of the corporate low enterprise segment at the high end of a market, the low end of any market.

And this goes for any company out there you’re normally distribution. Right. If you’re selling a lot of customers at a high transaction volume distribution cost, effective distribution is your constraint. As you move more up market, you sell bigger contract value deals to larger companies. Your constraint becomes perception, constraint.

And we noticed that we were perception constraint that like the perception of our company and our product was well behind that. The reality of what we, what we had achieved. And so we needed, we knew we needed to take a different step to solve that. And so we went out on an adventure and the first step of that is I just talked to the best and brightest brand marketers in the world.

I had like the most fun 90 days you could ever imagine. I talked to. Mindblowing brilliant people, people who are now at apple and Samsung and all at some of the, at all the best brands in the world. And you just found the commonalities and then you, you find the right person to come in and really lead and partner and shepherd with you on something like this.

And then you align on a strategy. You have to be different. Then the competition, you have to differentiate again, kind of a core theme of our conversation today. And we knew that we had to start thinking about ideating a campaign. That’s going to be very different than all the other software ads that you see out in the world.

Drew: Okay. So let me stop you there. So you do your homework and so that will allows you to get a pretty good understanding of what great brand looks like and what great advertising looks like. Then you, it sounds like you go and hire. An advertising agency.

Kipp: We’ve got a great internal brand leader and then an advertising agency.

So it’s both. Okay.

Drew: So you hired a brand person in house. Interesting. Okay. Make a note of that folks that sometimes you just need a person to drive it.

Kipp: Uh, I think you need leadership bandwidth to drive this and obsess about making it great. Interesting.

Drew: And then talk a little bit about. The team internally, besides your brand leader, who else was involved internally in say, let’s talk about approval of strategy and then approval of

Kipp: campus.

If you think about it, you’ve got a brand leader and then you have a brand strategy team that could be one person that could be handful of people, you know, get a depends on how much you’re doing internally and how much you’re doing externally. Cause you’re making campaign decisions and media decisions.

And for us, we have all of our own media that we’re integrating with and, and website integrations and all that kind of important stuff that we’re trying to do too. Right. And so. We did that. And then, so if you think about the campaign, what we first aligned on was how we were going to think about building our brand.

And we said, Hey, we’re going to invest our time and effort and capital in building a brand in three specific ways, we’re going to do some kind of, very kind of drum beat, consistent. Like we know how it’s going to perform both like channels and creative, then we’re going to do. Part of our strategy. That’s really kind of a big bet campaign that we’re going to take a big swing on and it’s up to us to execute in a really effective way.

And then we’re going to do a few things, a small percentage of things that we don’t know that we just fundamentally think of the right thing. And they may work amazing. They may not, but we are going to exercise some judgment that we got aligned with our leadership team and the board on that. And then we started going and making the campaign.

And again, when people are making something, you have to let them go, let them cook. You know, you can’t get in their hair about it. And so we wanted to let the brand team, the agency come up with a handful of. Get alignment on which concept we’re going to move, move forward with myself and our lead in our, in our senior leadership team.

And then from there, let them go and make it, make it awesome. And then go, once you have something made, you can go test it. You can go out to actual humans and understand how that works. What that test is like, how are people responding? Is the message coming across the way you want it to all of those things.

Drew: So when you were, you’re working with the brand team and the agency, they come back to you with a handful of concepts I’m sharing like storyboards or whatever idea, campaign ideas. How did the winnowing down process did you do any testing at that point?

Kipp: At the concept phase, it’s hard to test. It’s, it’s really hard to test.

That’s an important thing to you. You could, if you, if you’re risk averse, you could deploy more capital to make some lightweight versions of a few things to test. Uh, but for us, we were pretty clear on the concept. We were gonna. Okay. And

Drew: how did consensus happen internally? Over

Kipp: pirates? So w what Drew’s talking about, everybody listening is, you know, the, the, the creative, uh, we eventually produced was this story about a fictional entrepreneur.

Who was basically a parody of black beard, the pirate running a pirate enterprise. And it’s played by Catherine Hahn in our, in our spots, but that’s not the concept. The concept was HubSpot success stories. We’re going to tell fictional fantasy stories about amazing companies that have grown on HubSpot.

And now. Really resonated with people. Oh wow. It’s rooted in this idea of customer first and telling customer stories, but it’s not boring. It’s not about our product. It is. It takes all of these things and the core messages, but elevates them in this really interesting level of differentiation. And then you can have a whole host of debates around what the best story to tell is if we ended up on in this case for the first run of this campaign concept.

Drew: So I’m just going to track folks. We went from handful of concepts to the one concept, which is fantasy success stories. If you will. And even then, we’re still at a point where. The executional direction that you choose really matters because that could fall back, you know, in the wrong hands. You could end up with a really clumsy story because of a case histories or have been done forever again.

But these are not clumsy. These are very clever. They’re fun. I mean, I love Kathryn Hahn. She’s hilarious. And it just has that sort of really nice balance of there’s a story there. Talk about how you got.

Kipp: The team and the agency worked on it through a bunch of different potential storylines. We loved pirates.

And then we went and we tried to figure out who would be the best pirate we could, we could get. And that is who we thought aligned with our brand who had like really great global resonance, who we thought would actually. Do a great job, like executing the story we were trying to tell. And so Catherine was gracious enough to agree to do it.

And I was excited about the product and the story and the mission we were on. And then the team got to work. You go, and you shoot, you make the thing. That’s how it happens. That’s you know, at some point a group of experts have to go and make the thing.

Drew: You mentioned that you did a little testing, what was it that was tested?

Kipp: So you can test anything at any time. And what we decided is. Look, we’re aligned on this. And we’re going to go and make the thing, and then we’re going to test it to one, understand if we need to make any tweaks to the thing or, and to understand is it going to really accomplish our goals? If we go and spend the money to put it on the front cover of fast company and the sporting event you were watching and all of that kind of stuff.

Right? And so there’s a bunch of great advertising testing firms out there. We did user testing, both that they qualitative like focus group level. And then at the like larger scale online people are rating and filling out surveys and everything, and it came back to amazing. It came back as the number one tested software ad in the last two years.


Drew: to make you feel

Kipp: great, this is great. And, and it, the more important things that came back as 89% of. Found it funny, entertaining and something they’d want to watch again. And when you’re making something like this, that’s what you want. That’s like the dream to accomplish. And so I think that’s really the success of what we were able to kind of pull off.


Drew: I mean, it also makes it easier, but I want to make a point here. There’s high production values. You’ve got to ship. You’ve got a big cast. You you’re working with, uh, uh, what is it? 72 and sunny was the agency. Yes. Yes. Okay. So you’re working with a, get a really good agency that knows how to do these things.

And I’m imagining a full high, you know, high-end director, that’s a big budget thing. So you’re investing and you can’t, you can’t.

Kipp: It’s non-trivial amount of money.

Drew: Yeah, exactly. I mean, and it’s a big investment. And so then you go and test it and God forbid the reactions were bad because you’ve already invested

Kipp: a huge amount.

Right. And then you would have to go reshoot re concepts and spend more money. Yeah. That would be where you really have to hire the right team to execute. So you don’t have to do that. Right.

Drew: But I, I imagine, even though you’ve already invested this money, you produce it and then you get this testing feedback that, that makes it easier to kind of go, okay.

Let’s spend some real

Kipp: money behind that. Absolutely. Yeah. And anytime you have directionality of like how good this thing is in marketing, whether it’s an ad, whether it’s a blog post, whether it’s an email, it doesn’t matter what it is. It gives you really good conviction to go and be much more aggressive

Drew: about it.

Okay. And I just want to also plug you both that you did quantitative and qualitative, which is really also interesting. We started with a strategy with handful of concepts. We narrowed it down to one concept. We then created the ad that then got tested. One thing that is so reason why there’s these ads are so likable is that they’re funny.

And a lot of B2B brands don’t are afraid of humor. And I’m just curious, what gave you all the courage to go for it? Well,

Kipp: a few things can’t be boring. Look, the worst thing that can ever happen to you, if somebody is apathetic about you, right? I’d rather be disliked than apathetic. And the way we looked at it was.

We wanted to be different. We wanted to stand out and we looked at our brand and our brand has always been caring, loving, friendly, humorous, you know, it wasn’t a new thing for us. It was just at the core of kind of how we’ve always been. It was a way that we’ve always kind of been differentiated. We just wanted to make sure that was reflected in that.

And I think it’s not that most B2B companies are afraid to be funny. It’s also that most of them aren’t, you know, they just don’t do it in practice and whether that’s afraid or. Some other reason, I don’t know, but you know, for us, we want humor to be an important part of everything you do, but also you realize there’s a bunch of types of humor.

And I think that’s where a lot of brands get tripped up. You can have slapsticky humor and I don’t think that’s great for a lot of brands. That’s not what we are. That’s not the kind of humor we are. The kind of humor we are. It’s clever and funny and you know, just slightly irreverent, but in a kind of a caring way.

If you just blanket and say, yeah, we don’t want humor to be part of our brand. Like, that’s be at least thoughtful enough about the different types of humor you could incorporate.

Drew: I have to share a funniest story where I’m the brunt of the joke here, which is we used to do these as Renegade. And this was many years ago would go on these, uh, new business cruises where, you know, for clients like yourself would show up and then they would be subjected to X number of meetings with agencies like mine.

So when we tried to think about. Our brand and what, you know, what a Renegade is it? See? We said, oh, well, renegaded C is a pirate. So my associate, uh, trip on her and I actually dressed up in full pirate regalia. We boarded the ship with this, with our plastic, whatever Dragoons. And. We had so much fun. We didn’t get a single bit of business, but we had so much fun when we come back, we’re going to talk about the metrics because I’m pretty sure that this has been working really well for you and a lot better than our pirate approach.

Did the new business cruise. So stay with us. We’ll be right back.

VO: Hey,

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Set up a time for us to chat.

I know that your pirate program has been a massive success. And before we get to the stats, I want to just talk about the integration of the talk about, I did notice even on LinkedIn, there’s a behind your name. There’s a little banner and you see the ship in ghosting. You’d have to have seen the ad to know to make the connection, but talk about how far you’ve taken the.

Kipp: When you’re going to launch a big campaign and once you’ve tested it, right, you know, it’s, it’s accomplishing what you want to accomplish. You’re going to put big magnitude behind it. I think it’s very important to get your partners, customers, employees, and everyone activated, engaged around it. It’s updating your website that is providing social banners and everything for all employees to use.

It’s really about how do you activate. You know, if you’re doing any experiential event work, getting it included there. It’s basically thinking about what is my current marketing strategy, where does it make sense to integrate this in which doesn’t make sense everywhere. If you’re got a bunch of direct response work you’re doing on Facebook or something, it probably doesn’t make sense to do it there, but does it make sense to have it reflected in your homepage or.

Key landing pages, things like that. Sure, sure. It does. Or at least at least certain visual cues, if not the actual, like core thematics overall,

Drew: before we get to results, you, I mean, TV dollars go quickly. I mean, you know, and particularly if we’re trying to cover the globe, how did you figure out how much suspect.

Kipp: There’s two ways to figure out how much to spend, how much do you have? How much do you need to spend? But I think what you’re asking me is the latter. Like there’s a bunch of different models around how you can think about what you need to spend. I think probably like the reach and frequency, which is kind of what you alluded to earlier, where it’s like, oh, you reached me about six times in the first month they campaign.

That’s the model we were looking at. We were looking. You know, are in our core markets, how do we reach somebody in that six to 10 times in a month range? And what do we think the right media mix is to do that? And the media mix is hard. You have to, I think, do some very specific tests, both on linear television, which you kind of alluded to online video, Hulu, YouTube, all of those types of things, as well as just your out of home and other kind of traditional, uh, advertising creative aspects.

Drew: Also thinking about just going back to something that you said earlier, you talked about the major campaign. I’m just curious about the experiments that you did there.

Kipp: Yeah, that’s a good, that’s a, it’s a great question. I think the fast company buyout was an experiment, right? It’s not a traditional.

Placement and aligning various specifically with the innovators issue of fast company, kind of the issue that people kind of hold and keep around and everything for a long time was an experiment that went very well. There were other like interesting experience. We ran along the way, like we partnered with a company called network, which does really cool, like e-commerce brand partnerships.

So we have. And amazing artists do a HubSpot inspired, limited edition, like print. And we drop that and like got exposure to that artist community. Like we’re doing. Whatever we can to like test learn and understand like where the opportunities are for us. And you don’t really know the bounds until you go out there and kind of start checking in on them and testing them.

One of the

Drew: things that, uh, usually happens when you do your first advertising campaign, is that your search results actually start to improve dramatically, uh, in that branded search you’re talking about. Yeah, I’m talking about Brandon. Branded search and not unbranded search where, you know, where the click rates on your brand go so much higher that you have, you can bid lower because you know, the way Google’s algorithm works.

And I’m just wondering if, if that’s one quick.

Kipp: Yeah, we definitely saw a very big increase in our branded organic search, which is interesting because it comes at a time to your point where if you look at most categories, a lot of B2B categories, branded search is trending. Right now, you know, give them macro economic climates and everything else.

So that Delta was, was very significant.

Drew: Yeah. I want to explain this other thought that just so that folks understand where I was going, which is that at some point in time, every brand maxes out on how much they can spend on search, because you can no longer cost-effectively bid for out keyword because the cost is so high because everybody’s bidding for it.

I mean, like CRM is probably a ridiculously high term, um, or B2B to CRM or whatever. So brands that become. Advertising that generates awareness find that their cost per click goes down after the advertising begins, because they’re the number of people that click per exposure goes up. And that’s such an important thing to remember in this whole thing.

If you want to drive your search costs down, you’ve got to spend on advertising. It’s just a truism, but a lot of folks don’t necessarily know that. So how are you measuring success of this campaign?

Kipp: I think any company should align on what are the core brand metrics we’re going to care about going in to this, right.

And for us, it is how does our aided awareness change with our target audience and how does our sentiment and consideration change versus the competitive landscape? During over the course of the campaign. And so those are the, the core things we’re looking out to say, Hey, is creative being effective? Is the media investment, the right amount of dollars, the right distribution of dollars in the right properties.

And then you have to start looking at those things to the best you can on a per channel basis. And so what. Really great growth across the board. You know, we’ve moved awareness over six points, uh, which is a hard, hard thing to do. You know, most of the time you’ll move awareness a point or two, I think it’s.

So when you move awareness in the kind of the six to eight point range, which depending on what data you’re looking at now is where we’re at. That’s a very meaningful change in your. Yeah.

Drew: And then particularly if we’re not talking about a small base necessarily because you’re talking aided awareness, right?

Yes. Correct. Right. And then what about.

Kipp: Cinema really, really strong we’re basically in line or slightly ahead of competition now, which is amazing. It’s exactly where we want to be. Uh, we obviously want to continue to invest and grow and be kind of the dominant Senate mint player in our market, which any marketer wants to do.

Right. Anybody listen to this, this show wants to do, but that’s, that’s the progress we’ve seen so far. So it’s how do we keep focusing and execute, executing, and make that.

Drew: Well, and so here’s the question notoriously, and this goes back to my package. Goods stays that the minute you go off the air, it takes maybe only a month for you to lose about 50% of the gains that you make.

And yet it’s hard to sustain and always on program. Uh, you know, what are your thoughts?

Kipp: No for us, we want to be pretty consistent. I think when you launch a new campaign, obviously you’re probably going to have some additional investment because you want to make sure that you have kind of the magnitude of it in the market and make that successful.

But for us, we’re trying to build an enduring business. That’s going to be around for 10, 20, 15, 30, however many years. Right. And when you’re thinking about that, then. You start saying, all right, I need to build and think about my marketing budget in a way that I can have this kind of durable brand investment.

Maybe it changes, you know, 20 to 30%, you know, between quarters occasionally, but it’s not, it doesn’t go from, you know, a hundred to one to this massive drop off the

Drew: clip. So it feels like funny pirates. It was having its moment. I don’t know if you’re a fan of our flag means death and Tyco one TT, and what it’s doing, and I’m wondering.

Are you talking to those people? I mean, I’m assuming it was a complete coincide. It

Kipp: was a complete coincidence. We’re talking to them. We’re talking, there’s lots of awesome partnerships out there. Once you have really great creative in the market and you’re working with a really great team. There’s lots of interesting partnerships that are, you know, at least we’re talking about and coming down the pipe.

So hopefully lots more fun and interesting things to see on that front. Same.

Drew: In some ways we’re looking at content two different, completely different ways. We’re looking at, we started the conversation talking about just upping your game with the content that you create. And, you know, sometimes you just have to go out and buy professionals to do that.

And then. On the advertising front, which one might also call content the same principles applies of raising the bar and doing something that actually cuts through. And so I’m curious, when you look back at this again, what do you think your biggest lessons learned are with this? Cause this is your first global marketing campaign.

And what do you think your biggest lessons learned? Wow.

Kipp: You have to have the right team to do great work. You have to communicate really heavily with your core stakeholders, your board, your leadership team, and then your employees, when you’re rolling it out and like getting everybody internally, really excited and bought into the story is exceptionally important.

You can never do that enough and you have to have really great goal alignment. If you want to have the kind of a durable investment and really change your brand perception, awareness longterm, you have to get aligned on what are the goals. Tracking. And if we’re continuing to make progress towards those that we want to keep going, you know, and if we’re not making progress to those, why aren’t we making progress towards those and what should we do differently?

And it goes to the big three things that I would impress upon anybody to get. Right. And focus on. If you’re, if

Drew: you’re taking this. Love it. You mentioned internal and I harp about this a lot in my book and it’s the target audience that matters so much, but a lot of times what the CMOs will say is, yeah, it’s really important, but we only have a week to actually launch internally.

I’m wondering if you were able to spend more than a week

Kipp: on lunch. We w we had a whole internal calendar kind of plan from the beginning. We did, and we did an internal AMA. We did tons of enablement and getting word out. We took a good month to.

Drew: At least a month. And then I’m also on the flip side of this thing, I’m imagining your direct sales force is sort of loving you at this moment because they have air cover.

Like they never had before.

Kipp: Of course, what I love about sales is they have the hardest job. They have the hardest job and because of they’re really appreciative. And I think this is an area where they saw like, wow, I really need some air cover and perception change. To help me have better conversations, have new conversations and you definitely start seeing that happening.

If you do any kind of call tracking, call recording, listening on the sales call side, you see the campaign really come through in that and the change in perception, really coming.

Drew: So I’m going to sort of go do the cats thing. I mean, first of all, definitely on the courageous front, Pirate’s daring to be distinct.

It’s all in there on the artful front. One of the things that sort of sneaks in here on this thing is the, uh, grow better as a very simple story. And I think that really, to me, is so clear and it comes through on a thoughtful front, we talked about engaging employees. First, you spent. With them. We didn’t really talk about much about cultivating customer champs, but it’s okay.

And then, you know, on the selling through service, if you just think about the first part of this whole conversation about all the good content that you’re creating, you just believe in that. And then lastly, I hope you’re satisfied listeners that we covered the science here. This was about brand. This was about awareness and the reach that you need to get in order to do all the things that you want to do and sediment, because it’s not enough to just have your name, get out there.

You need to have something associated with it. I think it’s amazing Kip. I’m so glad we got a chance to talk about these two rather big programs and really appreciate you coming back on this. Thanks for having

Kipp: me drew. Thanks everybody for listening and hit me up on LinkedIn or the marketing against the grain podcast.

If you have any questions or thoughts on any of this further

Drew: talk to y’all soon. Yeah. And I, and I love that by the way. Yes. Definitely had kept up on LinkedIn. Do the same for me. If you got value out of this show, do us a favor and yeah. Send Kipp a note and say, Hey, Kipp enjoyed seeing you on Renegade marketers.

Show Credits

For more interviews with innovative marketers, visit renegade.com/podcasts and hit that subscribe button. Thank you.

Renegade marketers. Unite is now a production of share your genius. Melissa Caffrey is our content director. The music is by the amazing burns twins and intro. Voiceover is Linda Cornelius to find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about them. And the savvy is B2B marketing boutique in New York city.

Please visit renegade.com. I’m your host Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.