March 4, 2021

A New Playbook for B2B Marketers

The events of the past year have been nothing short of disruptive. Life as we know it has changed, and while we (as individuals, as marketers, and as brands) are all looking forward to things going “back to normal,” things aren’t going to look quite the same as we remember. But that’s not a bad thing—B2B marketers have proved over and over again that they are agile, resilient, and a true asset in the B2B world.

In this special 230th episode, Drew explores the new normal for B2B marketers. Wielding the wisdom of hundreds of CMO interviews and countless insights gleaned in CMO Huddles, Drew covers how marketers have faced the challenges of 2020 head-on. Tune in to learn what an effective B2B marketing strategy looks like today, and how B2B marketers are changing the world for the better.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • How B2B marketers adapted to 2020
  • What the new normal looks like for B2B brands
  • B2B marketing tips and tricks for 2021 and beyond

Renegade Thinkers Unite, Episode 230 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned

 Time-Stamped Highlights 

  • [0:27] Effective Marketing Trends Post-COVID
  • [13:02] How to Make B2B Virtual Events More Engaging
  • [23:34] Content Trends in 2021 for B2B Marketers
  • [32:28] Why Brand Purpose is So Important
  • [34:28] The New Normal for Marketers
  • [37:09] On Building Diverse Company Cultures
  • [40:08] How Content Consumption Has Changed Post-COVID
  • [44:04] Top CMO #TuesdayTips in 2020

Transcript Highlights: A New Playbook for B2B Marketers

[0:27] Effective Marketing Trends Post-COVID

“How can you help the customer? You can help them by being essential. You can help them by having a fast speed to value. You can help them by having a free product.” -@DrewNeisser #RTU #podcast Share on X

Hello, Renegade Thinkers! This is an unusual episode in that it’s just me—it’s Drew on Drew. I figure after 229 episodes of me getting input, it’d be good for you to hear from me on what I’ve learned over the last year or so about how marketers have been succeeding despite the pandemic.

So question number one, how have you seen marketeers effectively market during COVID?

I’m going to break this down into four buckets. Let’s start with the first bucket—this is really about being essential.

Think about it for a moment. Do I absolutely have to have this product or service to keep my business going? Now, if you aren’t a hospital or let’s say, Zoom, which enabled everybody to talk in conferences together, or a security system that enabled everybody to work from home safely and securely, those companies were by definition, essential.

You could have been anything to do with the cloud and you were essential. But what I want you to think about for a moment is, how is your business essential? I think that filter, first and foremost, is such a great way always to think about your business and your brand.

We can’t all be Zoom or Slack or Teams. We couldn’t have all been part of 6 years of digital transformation in 6 months. But what are they going to do? What are these companies going to do with the next essential thing that they have to do?

This gets us to the second bucket.

Hey, Drew, what’s the second thing that marketeers have done?

What they’ve done is they’ve gone to their current customers and they’ve said, “Hey, how can we help you in any way?” Let’s break that down a little bit. So first is, how are you using our product or service and are you using it to its fullest potential? It’s an interesting thought. To its fullest potential.

Now, if you’re a software company, just think about all the apps that you have on your phone. Even take the camera feature. How many of those features are you using all the time? Or think about your apps. You probably only use 5-10% of them.

So you’re a software company and it’s the middle of COVID and you go to your customers and you say, “Hey, how are you using our product or service? Are you getting the most out of it? How can we help you right now?”

I have a number of examples of companies that went to their customers who, in some cases, were hurting because they were in the travel business or something and their business was down immediately—what they said was, “We know you’re hurting. Let’s extend your contract term so maybe we can delay some payments or we’ll give you two or three months off, but you add a link to your contract.”

So that was part of it—going to these customers and saying, “What’s your financial situation? Can I help you there?” And then, “How are you using our product or service?”

Here’s what was amazing about that. A number of brands—and I can’t name names, unfortunately, because these are confidential conversations that I’ve had with CMOs—went to their customers and discovered several ways that they could help their customers right now, actually help them get through the pandemic as a result of using their product or service a little more effectively and efficiently.

In many cases, there was an up-sell opportunity where they actually got that customer to say, “Oh, if I use this, I can get that much more out of it, and that will help me get through this?”

This notion of going back to your customer right now couldn’t be more important. So far what we have are savvy marketers who first were lucky enough to be essential or be went back to their customers and said, “How can we help you get through it?”

I remember this quote from one CMO who just said, “All we tried to do was be helpful. We just kept creating content that would help them get through the initial crisis.” And she said, “The more we gave away, the more we sold.”

The more we gave away, the more we sold. The more helpful we were, the more we sold. So that’s the second bucket, right? It’s going to your customers and figuring out how you can help them.

So, Drew, what’s the third bucket?

This is what I call the fast ones. These are the ones that pivoted and found a way to get a new product or service out there that could prove what people call “speed to value.”

Here’s a reason why this was so important, and I mentioned this on other shows—what happened after COVID was the CF-No. This is the CFO who said, “I am not approving another expense unless you can (A) show me it’s essential, like to keep our business running, or (B)”—and this is the important part—”there’s a fast speed to value. If our organization can’t get value out of this new product or service in the next three months, put it on hold. Just come back to me.”

These fast ones figured out a way to rush out a new product or service that was essential, that had a quick speed to value. In my interview with Stephanie Buscemi recently (literally, the podcast came out last week), she mentioned how they rushed out in a six- to eight-week period, which was designed to help their customers deal with remote workforces. That’s a great example of rushing something out that delivers quick value to your customers.

Talkdesk did a similar thing, where they initially launched right after COVID, maybe within three or four weeks, a free version of their product for call centers. Now, in our conversations, it turns out that that was just an amazing way of getting new customers in the door, and many of them skipped the free stage.

Other brands thought about light versions of their product, which didn’t require the full enterprise integration, perhaps they could get some rogue users inside the organization getting used to it. Again, this was creating products or services that had a lower barrier to start. Lower price, easier to use, less connectivity, perhaps. Whatever it was, it got them in the door.

The fourth one. Hey, Drew, what is the fourth approach that seemed to work really well?

I’m going to call that the patient ones. These are the folks that said—and this is like what Renegade did—”We’re not going be able to get any business in the next three months because, in fact, we can’t define our business right now as essential.”

As hard as we wanted to say rebranding your product or service is essential, we knew that wasn’t the conversation that marketers wanted to have. So we thought about planting seeds. What could we do today that would make friends and be helpful in a way so that three months or six months or nine months from now, these same prospective customers could circle back? We’ll call that the patient ones. They planted seeds to harvest later since they couldn’t win the essential argument.

Pluralsight is a website with training services. They had #FreeApril. What was interesting about that, they launched the program as that patient idea, as a seed-building idea, and they had thousands and thousands of course downloads. But an interesting thing happened to them. A number of their customers, their enterprise customers, discovered that many of their employees were suddenly using and taking courses, so they expanded the licenses.

Ironically, here they are giving away their product during #FreeApril, but it ended up driving sales. It’s amazing to think about it. Sometimes, free is a perfect way to sell your product. Demandbase, for a short period of time, the ABM people offered free certification which was at the time a brilliant move because it was, I don’t know, they weren’t certain if people would invest more in ABM during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. It turned out they did, but just in case, they thought, “Well, let’s build an army of users who understand how to use Demandbase so that when the market picks up, we will be in a good position.”

6sense is a brand—Latané Conant was on the podcast and she talked about all the ways that they could help CMOs get through the crisis. They created these salons that build community among CMOs every Friday, one for the West Coast and one for the East Coast, where they would gather a speaker and a moderator and a bunch of CMOs would show up for this. This was a terrific way of giving to the community, but it also made 6sense top of mind and gave them an opportunity to talk about it. 6sense had a very good year.

This approach of patient and planting seeds ended up applying to virtual events as well. Think about this for a moment. IBM used to charge for their conferences. Adobe did. All of these companies charge for their events. Nobody charged. Well, I shouldn’t say “nobody.” The analysts still charged, but everybody else gave away their conferences. What they saw was that they had thousands more people attending their conferences.

So lastly, in terms of patient ones, I want to reference Sprout Social. I interviewed Jamie Gilpin for one episode, and their model has always been built around having a free product that social media users can take advantage of. Well, this was particularly helpful during the pandemic because it meant that they had trials among all sorts of business sizes. Within there, there were a number of enterprise users that were rogue and ultimately the enterprise adopted it.

So just think about it. What all of these things have in common is a real focus on the customer and the customer’s need. How can you help the customer? You can help them by being essential. You can help them by having a fast speed to value. You can help them by having a free product. Those are the four big trends.

[13:02] How to Make B2B Virtual Events More Engaging

“The good news is that virtual events got a lot better as the year went on. They had shorter sessions, more interactivity, more entertainment value. In some cases, they were less slick and more human.” -@DrewNeisser #RTU #podcast Share on X

Here’s another question for you, Drew. You mentioned virtual events in your last one. What happened with these?

Well, it’s really important to remember that in 2019, in-person events were considered the top source for quality leads for over half of all B2B marketers. Stop and think about that for a moment.

Suddenly, as of March or April 2020, half of your leads evacuated. Just disappeared, just gone. Suddenly, everybody turned to virtual events as a place of replacement.

Oh, by the way, we did some research in May among 133 B2B CMOs, and what we discovered was that, for most of them, having to replace in-person events impacted 90% of the plans and was the single biggest driver of complexity.

Now, here was an interesting thing that you don’t often think about and is probably a good lesson from this whole experience. There was no early mover advantage in shifting to virtual events. I’m going to speak out of school here a bit, but IBM and Adobe rushed their virtual events. They were supposed to have physical events in March and April. Instead, they rushed out events in April.

Unfortunately, these were not great events. They certainly weren’t great events relative to what happened in the months that happened. The technology was unstable. There are a lot of rants that I could go on. The speaker quality wasn’t really very good. It was one of those things where email looked more interesting to me than the event, than the presenters there, which is really unfortunate.

The good news is that virtual events got a lot better as the year went on. They had shorter sessions, more interactivity, more entertainment value. In some cases, they were less slick and more human. All of these things helped make virtual events a lot better.

So, what advice do I have? Hey, Drew, what advice do you have in helping make virtual events even more engaging?

Well, on, there are 6 tips for generating demand in a downturn. One of the points goes deep into virtual events and, based on my interview with Michelle BB of Skillsoft, we isolated 13. But I’m going to give you a few of the things that I think are really important to making virtual events much more engaging.

Number one—start by focusing on interactivity.

You want to pull your audience early and often. You want to allow lots of time for Q&A. You want to have more, you want to have a chat, and you want to make sure you support it. Lectures are boring and they’re really boring when they’re just a video or you’re watching on your screen.

Keep in mind—every time someone is watching your presenters on screen, they have the option of going to YouTube. They could go to Netflix, they could look at their messages. They could look at their email. You do not have the captured audience that you have at physical events, so you have to focus on interactivity.

I say that first because often people start by looking for a platform first. Figure out what your level of interactivity is, what your goal is there, then find a platform that can deliver it.

Second thing—don’t save the best for last.

Start strong. I’ve seen so many webinars where there’s this order: the president of the organization speaks, then the head of sales speaks, then the head of marketing speaks. You’re halfway into it and you finally get to the customer who’s really interesting and has a great story to tell. Then, because the customer goes on a little long, there are like three minutes for questions and there were 20 minutes of questions that people were waiting on. They were actually interested in the content.

What we suggest is, flip that. Whatever is the best part of your program, put that first. Set the bar high so that if I come in and watch your conference or whatever it is, whether it’s a webinar or a big virtual event, let me see your best first because then I can expect that I might see more of that. Start strong, set the stage for the events.

Number two, or three actually, make it fun.

I’m there for information, but remember, I’m watching a screen. I am somewhat passive unless you have some interactivity. Be sure to build some elements of fun into your program. Have an entertainer. Skillsoft had a great band. They had interesting authors. They changed the structure of where they were presenting from. One of their emcees had a funky hat on. They also had a points program, by the way, which was cool. The more things that you did, you got points that you could earn for swag.

More live, less prerecorded.

I know that a lot of companies wanted to take the risk out of live streaming because there is a risk with live streaming. They wanted to have everything pre-recorded so that there was no chance things would get screwed up. The problem with that is, it absolutely limits interactivity. And if it’s prerecorded, I don’t have a sense of urgency that I need to watch it now.

Now, I’ve seen a blend of that, and I get it. I understand it. But to the extent that you can, have much of your conference live. And that means you need to have redundancies, you need to prepare for the unexpected and yeah, pre-record it just in case.

Limit the presenters to the skilled.

If your CEO is not a great presenter, either coach them like crazy or just nicely say, “You know what, stay behind the scenes. Let some of the more skilled people do this.” And it doesn’t matter what position it is, have your best presenters present. It shouldn’t have anything to do with rank or expertise for qualifying. Only skilled communicators should be allowed. If you have subject matter experts that are geniuses that mumble, that are hard to understand, it just won’t be very effective.

Ditch the text-heavy PowerPoint.

Yawn. I don’t even need to say anything more for that. You know how you dread those. If you want to do a PowerPoint presentation, put it on SlideShare and just let people know that it’s there and they’ll go read it.

Another thing—folks are so busy producing the event, they forget that this is a moment in time and that there’s a before and an after. Be ready for the follow-up.

What do you want to have happen as a result of your virtual event? There’s got to be a follow-up. If there isn’t, I’m not sure why you’re doing it.

Polls are really helpful because polls allow you to segment your audience. You can even ask them right then, “Hey, would you like us to follow up on this particular subject?” Yes, no, email. Boom. You’ve asked the question. Attendees know, particularly since they’re there for free, that there’s a value exchange. If you were giving them all this content and all of this good information, they know there’s something expected of them. Be sure to ask. Get engagement on a very detailed level so that you can take advantage of that moving forward.

OK, one last thing. Have an offer. Generate trial with an offer.

This goes back to something that I said at the beginning of this episode. If you have a free or freemium product or a light version of your product, there is nothing like having a free offer at the end to all folks who attended. They’re excited now. You’ve got them pumped up. You brought them into the community. Put a free offer on the table that they need to act on right away. This will really help you show the value of your virtual events.

[23:34] Content Trends in 2021 for B2B Marketers

“We really need to understand why we exist right now, because that's going to define our actions.” -@DrewNeisser #RTU #podcast Share on X

Hey, Drew, let’s circle back to the overall impact of COVID on marketeers in terms of both messaging and vehicle choices. What are the trends that you are seeing?

I just spent a lot of time talking about big virtual events.

The trend that I see that’s more interesting is smaller, highly targeted virtual events that have a component of education and a component of entertainment.

Imagine you’re targeting CEOs and you’ve got 12 of them lined up for a Zoom winetasting. It’s 7:00 Eastern Standard Time. You have 12 CEOs, you have two that are customers, you have a great little interactive program. You have an expert from Johnnie Walker Black talking about how to taste this.

There’s this entertainment and educational value. Those have been performing really well. And by the way, those are particularly good for your hot prospects, the ones that already know about you, who are already in the system.

What’s great about those—this is what I hear from the CMOs—your customer will do the selling. You don’t need to do a thing because your customer can lead the conversation and then the prospect will say, “Hey, well, what about this?” And the customer will answer. It’s a great way to get that last few feet to the close, particularly for an enterprise sale.

From a content standpoint, another trend that I’m seeing is lots more short videos.

Now, sure, it depends. I’m going to say it could be 30 seconds. It could be five minutes. It depends on the topic. But I’ll cite Tuesday Tips, a video series that we started, I don’t know, somewhere back in the summer after having all these conversations with CMOs. During the CMO Huddles, we started taping Tuesday Tips, and it’s become a thing. We’re getting hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of views of these Tuesday Tips. We built up a little bit of a franchise with them and people expect that.

OK, short videos. There’s another really important reason why to create all these short videos. The Facebooks, LinkedIns, Twitters of the world want more video and they tend to favor video in terms of their algorithm.

Another trend—more employee advocacy. Enabling it, encouraging it.

I love this trend because one of the things that we talk about a lot at Renegade is you have to create a brand that employees want to embrace. You have to have a purpose, you have to have values, and if you get those things right, your employees want to be cheerleaders for the brand. That’s why they came to the company in the first place and you need to be able to enable that.

I’ve seen that a lot, one, because some CMOs were resource-constrained, so this was an opportunity to extend it. But you’ll see that especially on LinkedIn and it’s really an interesting way of engaging employee engagement.

How many of your employees who follow the brand and LinkedIn are liking and sharing the content? That can have a huge impact on a brand’s social footprint because people want to engage with people, not brands, on social media. Your employees, by the way, are people, so if you can get them to engage—now, there are platforms that help with employee advocacy and these are doing really well.

Here’s a small little trend that I thought was so interesting and one that I wouldn’t have considered.

Most brands have some kind of swag or premiums or tchotchkes that have a big logo on them. And if you go to a conference, you’re given a backpack with a big logo or a jacket. My wife and I have this ongoing joke that I always come home with a bag with a brand on it.

I was talking to MK Getler of Alyce, which is a company that manages company stores, if you will, custom stores. What she advises brands is—if you’re going to put a logo on it, make it really subtle. Or just don’t put a logo on it. And I thought, “Oh, that’s so interesting. Wait, what? No logo on it?”

Now, there are some brands where the logo is great and people feel good about it, it’s part of a badge of it. Someone cited YETI the other day as a brand that it’s perfectly fine to have the logo on. But I think about it for myself—how many of these things I’ve thrown away. You’re just creating trash, so if you want to be responsible.

What is the point of putting your logo on it? Oh, you think it is the way they will remember the brand. Well, let me tell you a little story about that. About a year ago—no, make it two years ago—we were working with a consultant, Kerri Konik, who is a brand consultant. Yeah, we went to a brand consultant to help us think about our brands. Just a hint that it’s always good to get in a third-party opinion when you’re thinking about these things.

Anyway, her agency is called Inspire Fire, and when we were done with the process, Kerri sent me this wonderful plush blanket. It didn’t have a brand name on it, but we still have it. We keep that in our family room and every time I put this blanket on, I think about Carrie and Inspire Fire. No brand. Great gift. You don’t need it.

Focusing more on customer success as part of marketing—I think lots of brands understand the customer experience is really important…

One of the trends that I’m seeing is that marketers, CMOs in particular, are being asked to take control of the customer experience and customer success, and it has multiple names.

But the reason for this is customers, like employees, have the potential to be advocates and you need them. In B2B, you need every customer to be a great case history, right? You need them to be a case history.

That means communicating to them with a steady cadence. Not in a way that is painful, but in a way that is helpful. If you have this mindset of how marketing can be a service, how it can be helpful, and you bring that to customer success, you have this wonderful, powerful formula for improving that. Oftentimes, customer success is treated almost like a sales channel. And in that case, you’re just saying, “Oh, can I give you fries with that?” It’s an upsell. It’s a cross-sell thing.

They’re incentivized to push the customer to buy more, whereas what you really need this customer to do is advocate more. They’ll buy more, but first they need to advocate.

The last trend that I’m seeing in 2021 is a renewed embrace of brand purpose.

And I save that for last, not because it is last, because in my mind it should go first, but I think what’s happened is, as a result of COVID, a lot of companies had to examine their values and they had to look at their purpose and say, “Why do we exist?”

We really need to understand why we exist right now, because that’s going to define our actions. I really encourage you to listen to my recent episode with Stephanie Buscemi of Salesforce, because you can hear in her how their values and their purpose drove their actions. That’s how they got to That’s how they got to this idea of B-Well.

I’ve talked a lot in other podcasts about brand purpose, but I really want to tell you—this is happening and it’s happening because Gen Z, and millennials in particular, want to work for organizations that do more than sell stuff. They want to believe that the companies they’re working for have a purpose and are contributing to society in important ways.

[32:28] Why Brand Purpose is So Important

“Businesses have an opportunity to do and make meaningful change.” -@DrewNeisser #RTU #podcast Share on X

Hey, Drew, can you explain what you mean by brand purpose and why that is so important right now?

Let me tell you more about the Salesforce story. I’m going to quote Stephanie. She says, “Our two brand values that I want to share at this moment are customer success and trust.” This is Stephanie speaking: “Now, trust goes beyond just the transparency of having and putting your data in the cloud. It’s from how we conduct ourselves in every interaction with our customers and our ecosystem and our community. But trust was really core to starting the company’s success and taking off and convincing people that it would be OK to put your data in the cloud.”

Interesting. And then she goes on to say, “The purpose of the company is that business is a platform for change. Our purpose is that our success is only through our customer success and through our communities in which we serve success.”

Think about that. Business is a platform for change. Salesforce is the enabler of it. They’re saying, “Our purpose is to help other businesses have their purpose and bring that to life.” I think it’s such an interesting way of looking at your business.

Brands need to stand for something. Without purpose, it’s really hard to generate brand love. Consumers are looking to business to lead us out of this quagmire. They don’t trust government; there are a lot of institutions that they don’t trust. Actually, at this moment, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, they trust business more than almost any other source. Given that trust, businesses have an opportunity to do and make meaningful change.

[34:28] The New Normal for Marketers

“Business and personal lives have blurred and the empathy that comes with successful leadership is critical.” -@DrewNeisser #RTU #podcast Share on X

What do you think is going to be part of the new normal for marketeers?

We can get through this pretty quickly.

One, empathy.

There are no more all-business business leaders. I mentioned that in an earlier podcast, The Silver Lining for CMOs, but I really want to emphasize this idea of empathy and why this is so important right now.

We’ve all gone through a global tragedy of epic proportions and we’re still in the middle of this thing. If you don’t stop and think about that almost every day and see how it’s impacting the lives of the people that you’re talking about, you’re just tone-deaf as they say. You’re out of touch.

Empathy is not going to go away. We’ve come to know our clients like friends. We know their dog’s name. We know their kids. We know their routines. It’s a new part of business. Business and personal lives have blurred and the empathy that comes with successful leadership is critical.

From that big picture personality aspect, one thing we anticipate towards the end of 2021 is the return of physical events.

And when that happens, they will be hybrid events, both physical and virtual. It’s going to add some more cost because you’re going to have to have all sorts of live streaming equipment and technology, but people are getting used to this virtual event thing and you can build from it.

There’s no doubt in my mind that there will be hybrid workforces. You’ll have remote and on-premise, something like 20-30% of the service economy, of businesses like ours, are expected to stay remote forever.

Another new normal is an awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of your business, and this extends to marketing materials.

Stephanie Buscemi mentioned this—they did an audit and discovered, whoa, our marketing materials are not featuring diverse people. It is something that we all marketers need to be aware of and help our organizations take a step forward and accept responsibility for creating a diverse and more effective workforce as a result.

[37:09] On Building Diverse Company Cultures

“You need to create a culture that embraces diversity and recognizes aggression when it's there.” -@DrewNeisser #RTU #podcast Share on X

Hey, Drew, since you mentioned diversity, let’s talk a bit about racial injustice and what companies are doing to address this issue at their own companies.

Boy, I tell you, we had CMO Huddles in May and June and all we talked about was this challenge of building a more diverse workforce. Initially, a number of CMOs said, “Well, the challenge is supply. We simply don’t see enough diverse candidates for the marketing department.” At which point there was a switch that went off and the other CMOs said, “We’re not trying hard enough. We’re not recruiting from the right places. We have a lens that accepts white privilege. We’re just not working hard enough.”

It can’t be done with one initiative, you can’t just say, “OK, we care.” It is a journey and if I had a little more time, I’d tell you about my personal journey and the things that I am doing, but I recognize that it is not going to be something that is going to just go away. As someone said, I can’t remember who, “White people created this problem. White people need to fix this.”

One thing I will tell you on this topic of diversity is, you need to create a culture that embraces diversity and recognizes aggression when it’s there and acknowledges it and teaches people to be aware of things they don’t even realize they’re aware of.

I had a conversation with an African-American CMO, a very senior gentleman, and he told a very sad story to me. He said, “Look, I get calls all the time from senior executives at other companies that have worked with me and said, ‘Hey, would you mind helping my kid get an internship?'” or something like that at the company he was working at. And he said, “Sure, no problem. But then I thought, would I make that call to them and say, ‘Hey?'” He said, “No, I wouldn’t, because I am certain they wouldn’t be looking out for and recognize the challenges that my black kids are going to be facing in a predominantly white organization.”

That story made me really sad, but it also made me recognize that there’s a whole new generation that really is ready to embrace this. We simply need, as a society, as businesses who can drive change, to recognize the problem and put a plan together and stick to it.

[40:08] How Content Consumption Has Changed Post-COVID

“Thought leadership isn't a strategy, being helpful is.” -@DrewNeisser #RTU #podcast Share on X

Hey, Drew, how do you think content consumption has changed?

I seem to recall one pundit saying that the pandemic didn’t cause trends, it just accelerated them. And we certainly know that from a marketing technology standpoint. We knew that streaming content was going to go crazy. Sure enough, look what happened with Netflix and Disney and just all these channels. We know that people were already moving from print to digital to desktops to mobile, that mobile gaming was was going to be huge, and video consumption in general. What’s interesting, though, is TV hours rose significantly as well and audio rose. Believe it or not, and this is the most surprising thing, book sales went up.

All this means that, as a content marketer, the quality of the content that is out there is pretty extraordinary from an entertainment standpoint. I mean, I talk about this all the time—there is too much good television. I want to read a book now and then, and if I just watched the programs, I never would.

The litmus test for you is, is your content remarkable? Gets us to the next question.

Where does content fit in the overall digital strategy and how has that changed?

Well, with physical events off the table, content marketing has become even more important to the overall plan. Content is kind of the glue. It’s almost everything right now in a digital plan. But what’s interesting to me is there’s still an ad hoc approach to content. “Ah, we need to be thought leaders. We need to demonstrate category leadership!”

That’s not a strategy. Thought leadership is not a strategy. That’s an outcome that happens if you actually have a strategic decision that, for these people, we are going to help them do something. But the problem with thought leadership is, “Hey, we’re smart, we know everything!”

Let’s turn this around and say, “What is our content doing for our customers or our prospects that is helpful?” That’s not thought leadership. That’s helpful content. That may fall closer to this category of sales enablement.

Thought leadership isn’t a strategy, being helpful is. And that means listening to your customers and really trying to understand what content will help them and being a step ahead of them.

Interestingly, I had a recent interview with William Tyree of ringDNA. They made the decision to buy Andy Paul’s podcast and Andy Paul’s company in order to have a massive sales library.

This had started as a result of a B2B influencer strategy that they had been part of for years, so now they have this podcast library that acts an ability where they can promote certain events or things that they have on the calendar. They literally have a channel, but they also have this newfound authority because Andy Paul is one of the most recognized and most popular sales podcasts in the world.

Now this is part of their brand. That’s a bold step forward. It’s a remarkable step because Andy’s show is remarkable.

[44:04] Top CMO #TuesdayTips in 2020

“It's one thing to passively listen. It's another thing to go out to your customers and ask them, ‘Hey, what do you think of this piece of content? What do you think of this idea?’”-@DrewNeisser #RTU #podcast Share on X

Hey, Drew, you host Tuesday Tips with CMOs. What are some of their top tips?

Well, every Tuesday Tip has a specific message, so it’s hard to explain and say, “Oh, the top tips are the top tips.” But I will say that I hear some common themes across them.

First, listen to your customers.

There are lots of ways to do that. You can listen on social, you can set up an advisory board, you can poll them. This information that you can get can drive the social content that you create. It can drive all the content you can create. It can drive product development. It can help you with pricing. Listening informs almost all of the tips.

A second part of that is consulting with your customers.

It’s one thing to passively listen. It’s another thing to go out to your customers and ask them, “Hey, what do you think of this piece of content? What do you think of this idea? What do you think of this topic?” It makes them feel important. It makes them feel part of your brand.

I guess that the next part of this is, by listening to your customer and consulting with them, you create the opportunity to celebrate your customer.

Feature them in your content, build community around them. Boy, Marketo, Tableau, Drift, 6sense—there are so many examples of companies that have done really, really well as a result of celebrating their customers.

All right. That’s it. Thank you for listening to this special show. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, be sure to put another review on your favorite podcast channel. OK, this is Drew signing out.

Show Credits

Renegade Thinkers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me. Audio production is by Sam Beck. Show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins. And the intro voice-over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes suggest future guests or learn more about quite possibly the savviest B2B marketing agency in New York City visit And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.