Field Marketing 2.0 with Nick Bennett

Lauren Volpi's headshot on a blue background

Nick Bennett is the Director of Field, Partner, and Community Marketing at Alyce. And, he is the host of the Rep Your Brand podcast.

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Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Long Story Short:

  • What the future of field marketing holds: Field Marketing 2.0
  • How field marketing accelerates opportunities in the middle and bottom of the sales funnel
  • The power of cultivating community, and how it helps align marketing and sales 
  • Showing the effect that marketing has throughout the entirety of the sales cycle
  • Creating alignment between field marketing and sales teams
  • How personal branding helps you individually, and brings value to your company
  • The value of creating a community on LinkedIn and building connections with people in your niche

Resources:

Rep Your Brand

State of Demand Gen

 

Connect with Nick:

LinkedIn

Twitter

 

Connect with the Host:

Jeff Sirkin on LinkedIn

 

Connect with Sirkin Research:

Website

Twitter

Instagram

LinkedIn

Transcript:

Jeff Sirkin:
Hello. And welcome back to another episode of Long Story Short, the podcast about storytelling and connection. I’m your host, Jeff Sirkin. On this show, we talk to people making a difference as marketers, entrepreneurs, and social impact advocates. We dig into actionable strategies and tactics to help you connect with your audience and keep your finger on the pulse of your market.

Jeff Sirkin:
My guest this week is Nick Bennett. He’s a director of a Field, Partner and Community Marketing at Alyce. He’s also the host of the Rep Your Brand podcast. Nick is one of those amazing people who has the power to be everywhere at the same time and he seems to have 25 hours in his day. For anyone who is looking to create better marketing and sales alignment, this episode’s right up your alley. We dig into field marketing 2.0, the power of cultivating community and how they helps bring together the worlds of marketing and sales. We also had a great conversation about personal branding. So without further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Nick Bennett.

Jeff Sirkin:
Hi Nick, thank you for being with us on Long Story Short.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah, thanks for having me.

Jeff Sirkin:
So I’m really excited to have you on the show. And I want to start with something that’s really important to you and that’s field marketing. And so before we get into where it’s going, I want to look backwards. And so curious if you can just give us your perspective and what the traditional role of field marketing was in the past?

Nick Bennett:
Yeah. So, I think it was very event heavy. And I don’t want to say there’s anything wrong with that because there’ll always be a place for events. Whether it’s trade shows, conferences, smaller, intimate events. But if that’s your only focus as a field marketer, you’re doing yourself a disservice to the company that you work for. And it was always like, all right, someone in sales would say, “Let’s go do this event.” And you would just go do it. And you would say, “Oh, how many leads am I going to scan at this booth today? Like, that’s so exciting.” But you were never looked at … at least in my mind, as a strategic partner to the sales team.

Nick Bennett:
And so I think that’s what everyone thought of when they think of field marketing, they’re like, “Oh, you’re an event planner. That’s what you are.” And it’s so much more than that and it’s really evolved. Especially over the last couple years. It’s funny because when I started talking about field marketing on LinkedIn, people are like, “I don’t even know what field marketing is.” And I do think that the term could change into revenue marketing or something-

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
Because not as many people are out in the field anymore. But I think the concept still stays the same.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah. And I think that’s my perspective, as well, and seeing that in a number of tech companies. Where it’s felt more of a localized event planner, but it’s bringing together customers and prospects that are in that particular geography and things like that. And to your point, it had been my perspective, sort of an order taker of more of the sales team, where it’s like, “Hey, we’re trying to actively close some of these. We would love again, just to be able to bring in some, like, let’s again, say some customers to talk to the prospects about their experience.” But again, it was all very sort of focused locally again, I guess that’s where the term field marketing came from.

Nick Bennett:
Yep. Yeah, absolutely. I think that was the whole thing. Like, in my past it’s varied a few different ways. In a lot of ways, at least in B2B tech companies that you see pre-COVID was there would be like an East Coast field market or a Central, West-

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
Maybe AMIA or like an APAC field marketer. And then as the team grows, you could split like Northeast, Southeast, like Upper Central, Down Central, like Pacific Northwest, like Southwest, like things like that. And you can grow it as the team builds. But it also matters how many sales members you’re going to be paired with.

Nick Bennett:
For example, like I’ve worked for companies where I’ve been paired with 20 reps. So it’s one of me paired to 20 reps wanting to help them hit all of their numbers. But each market is incredibly different. I’ve also done it where it’s like one to three or one to five. It’s a much more reasonable number when you kind of get it down. But for earlier stage companies, when it’s a smaller team, sometimes if the sales outgrows marketing, it’s hard to have that equal pairing and it just gets very overwhelming.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah. And I love that perspective again, as sales outgrows marketing. And so then what I would love to be able to shift into is, where the present and the future. And so I’d love to hear your perspective on, what does field marketing 2.0, what does that look like to you?

Nick Bennett:
Yeah. So I think it’s definitely, you’re looked at as a full stack marketer. You have to understand events, absolutely, that’s a big piece of it. You have to understand creative, brand, messaging, digital marketing, like content. You have to understand all of the areas of marketing that are important. However, you’re the closest person to the sales team in a lot of cases. And so you’re the one that is relaying information from corporate marketing to the field. And then from the field back to corporate marketing. It’s like, you’re that two way street where information flows.

Nick Bennett:
And so I think it’s important that you’re looked at as a strategic advisor to the sales team. You want to come in, drive some immediate value, make sure that you’re walking a fine line between sales and marketing. Now I’ll tell you why, because if you’re seen as a marketer that’s just jamming stuff down a salesperson’s throat. They’re not going to want to help you when you need help. However, if you come in, add value really quickly, build relationships to get to know them as actual individuals. When you go to make your ask of whatever it is from them, they’re going to be a lot more willing to work with you. And just say like, “Yeah, absolutely. Like Nick went out of his way to do X, Y, Z for me, I’m going to make sure to help him out, as well.”

Nick Bennett:
And so it becomes much more of a relationship and that’s why it’s like … I started off in sales before I went into marketing. I do think that every marketer, at least revenue marketers, should spend some time in sales. Because you get to see how they live every single day, walk in their shoes. And I think that you have a different mindset when you do move over to marketing for like how a salesperson kind of thinks and like what they’re going through every single day. And that was really, really helpful to me. And I think the last thing is like, you need to really think of yourself … and I love sports analogies. Like as the quarterback of the team. With Tom Brady and all the news going around with him, it’s like, Tom Brady is the goat and he works so strategically with his running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, you got Gronk, like you have the entire team. But Tom’s making the calls at the-

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
End of the day. And you have to work collectively as a field marketer with the rest of your team to drive across the end zone, to achieve revenue and pipeline. And I think that’s the mindset to look at.

Jeff Sirkin:
I love that perspective, because there’s so much talk about how do you get marketing and sales alignment and marketing and all that stuff. But I think fundamentally, what people talk about so much is aligning the metrics, which is super important and getting sort of the CMO and the head of sales on the same page. But I think what kind of then gets lost is to your point, like field marketing really is that bridge, functionally, they are the ones that are closest to sales in terms of where the role they play within marketing.

Jeff Sirkin:
And the other interesting piece from my perspective is that, in a perfect world, as marketers, we all know that marketing should be impacting everything throughout the entirety of the customer life cycle. Marketing should not necessarily just be restricted to you are creating leads. I think we all know better than that. But what happens is so often that that’s what we’re driven towards. But field marketing to that point, really can be that perfect way of being able to bridge those two and showing the value, again, not just because so many marketers really are focused on, as soon as the lead gets created and it’s thrown over the wall to sales and it’s now sort of out of our world. But frankly the field marketers can then work with some of those opportunities that are working from that stage through closure. And so being able to show acceleration and show the growth. Again, I think it’s a more direct way also for marketers more broadly to be able to think of how they’re impacting and how they’re able to measure the impact they’re having on accelerating some of that pipeline and helping to close it.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah. And you bring up a great point because … and I’ll give you a perfect example. Right now at Alyce, my role is field marketing. And what that means for us is I am driving middle of the funnel and bottom of the funnel. So, me and my counterpart, Nina, on the other side, she leads revenue marketing. So she’s focused on taking the intent that we get from our ICP accounts, making it a marketing qualified account, booking the meeting. I take it from qualified opportunity to close one to retention. And that’s really my focus.

Nick Bennett:
So it’s still a full funnel strategy. However, it’s very much focused on we each kind of have like our individual things. And I think sometimes field marketers forget that again, they’re the closest to sales and that they should be focused on accelerating opportunities, not always creating new ones. Does it happen sometimes? Yeah. Does it vary company to company? Absolutely. But as a field marketer, your goal should be to accelerate the opportunities that you have in there.

Nick Bennett:
And it’s like, all right, how do you do that? Like I take a three step approach. So it’s like, all right, understanding the insights that are out there, tailoring plays to those specific insights and then actioning those insights. And so I run a pretty … it definitely changes quarter to quarter based on themes and that. But I have like specific plays that I’m running to accelerate opportunities quicker. So that close one time moves up. The ACVs pretty much the same, but if I can move a deal to close from say three months down to a month and a half, it’s going to improve our conversion rates over-

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
Time. And we’re going to be able to back into our number a lot easier.

Jeff Sirkin:
I love that. And again, I just keep coming back to the idea that marketing is so … typically in larger organizations, the KPIs that they’re typically given are so much about creating pipeline for the sales team to work. But then that’s kind of where it ends. And so the idea that helping, again, in same way as an analyst by trade. Like the three things we always look at is like win rates. Are you helping to improve win rates? Are you helping increase the size of the deals? Or are you helping the time to close? If you can show impact against any or ideally all of those, then again, then you can show the effect that marketing’s having throughout the entirety of the sales cycle beyond the point where you’ve just thrown something over the wall.

Nick Bennett:
Absolutely. And there’s a couple other … like, and I’ll give you a couple other examples of like what I’m specifically looking at right now. So like non-qualified to qualified, which is like demo stage pipeline conversion rates-

Jeff Sirkin:
Yep.

Nick Bennett:
And this isn’t just me, and marketing alone won’t drive this. However, if I can move that non-qualified to qualified pipeline, like the conversion rates improving by even a couple percentage points, huge. And then the qualified pipeline to close one conversion rates improving. Again, if I can even bump that up by like 10 percentage points, is going to make a huge, huge impact. And that was kind of, when I was hired, it was initially to do ABM. And so field marketing’s my background, that’s what I’ve done for the last nine years. And I just switched back over to that probably about three or four months ago. Because I created an amazing ABM program and we opened a ton of pipeline, but we didn’t have any acceleration plays in place. And so that was why I was like, “All right, great. You can create all the pipeline if you want, but if you’re not accelerating it, what’s the point?”

Jeff Sirkin:
Couldn’t agree more. So, I want to shift to something else that’s near and dear to your heart and something that I think we’ve all been seeing everywhere. I keep seeing pieces written around the value of community and creating and cultivating those communities within marketing. So I’m just curious, I would love to hear your perspective on the role of community in your world, especially to your role at Alyce.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah, absolutely. So, I think community means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And so I’ll kind of give you like how we break down communities. So we don’t have an internal customer community currently. It’s something I’m going to be look at doing probably later this year. However, right now we sponsor third party communities. And it’s a little bit easier because I’m a part of these communities every day anyways, it’s like-

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
We sell to marketers. And so when we’re sponsoring like Peak Community and the CMO Coffee Talk Hour, like, it just makes sense. Because a lot of us are already in those or we do like Thursday night sales and Women in Sales Club. So we have kind of that angle committed. And we’re not there to just come out and pitch our product, by any means. It’s very like, “Hey, where can we add value?” We just want to be part of the conversation and support really great initiatives. And that’s what the community aspect has kind of been able to do for us.

Nick Bennett:
However, you also have like LinkedIn as a community and as a whole, as well. Some people don’t refer to it as a community, but I do. And I think it’s an important piece of what we do at Alyce, specifically. A perfect example, over the last year, I’ve driven over 30 opportunities that have come inbound from seeing my content. I’ve created a community of field marketers, demand gen, ABM marketers. I actually just launched a brand new community called Revenue Era. And so we’ve been able to kind of like take that and I’ve been able to pass those insights over to sales and be like, “Hey, look, from posting every single day and building my community. I’ve been able to drive a ton of pipeline for you.”

Nick Bennett:
And I can see that doubling hopefully this year. So I’m super excited. But it’s kind of at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds right now. And it’s also interesting because I’ve had like a lot of like VPs of Marketings and CMOs contact me recently. I was like, “Hey, we want to hire a community like head count for marketing.”

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
And like whether it’s community and content or community and something else, you do see community and content go together a lot. And so they were like, “Can we like pick your brain? Do you want to like come do community for us?” But it’s nice to see that B2B companies are focusing on hiring actual individuals to drive community for them. Because I don’t think that would’ve been the case even a year ago.

Jeff Sirkin:
Oh yeah. No. And I think you’re 100% right. I mean, I think we’ve seen this obviously as the landscape has shifted and so much more has become digital. But back to kind of what we were talking about in field marketing, sort of the 1.0 of community is it just felt like you either have your own customer community or you don’t have a community. Like that was sort of the only definition. And that’s why I really love your examples because you don’t have to have … for anybody who’s listening and doesn’t have sort of the quantity today to say, “Well, we can’t have a customer community with 40 people.” Or something like that.

Jeff Sirkin:
The fact that you can go sponsor other communities, the fact that you can go be a part of these. And I think that’s really where we’ve seen that shift so much. And I really … and I’ll come back to this in a minute. I love the perspective of LinkedIn as a community because I think that people don’t see it that way. And again, I think so many of these walls are kind of blurring and breaking down to some extent, but I think it is really heartening to see the value that companies are putting on community, even when it’s not your own, even if it’s not something. But I think the OG thinking is we need to create a community where we can just sort of push our messaging. And that frankly is … that can’t be sort of the approach otherwise that will never be successful.

Nick Bennett:
Exactly. And I definitely think the pandemic has accelerated the need of communities. I mean, if you look at, from 2020 to now of all the communities that have popped up, I mean, you’ve got like Rev Genius, you’ve got Pavilion, you’ve got all these smaller communities. And I think that’s what we’re seeing in 2022, is like you had these bigger communities that were marketing ops. However, I think you’re going to see more niche communities starting to pop up in 2022. That will be really focused on honing in on like a specific area of marketing or sales. And it popped up a little bit last year, but I think you’re going to start to see people double down on it this year.

Nick Bennett:
And I think it’s been so impactful for me, personally. I see people that are mentoring others or willing to mentor others or like, “Hey, you got laid off. I’m really sorry about that. Let me put it out here and see who I could help out. And like, try to find you a job.” Like people just go above and beyond wanting to help other people that are part of these communities. And it becomes like somewhat of like a family, you get really close with a lot of these people. And like Rev Genius is a perfect example. I was one of the first 20 people that were in there, it’s got like 18, 19,000 people now. But like that core group that I kind of got to know really, really strong, and it was some marketing leaders and we still talk today. And it’s like, they’re willing to go out of their way if I was to ever need help on something. And like that kind of tells you a lot on why community is so important.

Jeff Sirkin:
And again, I mean, it’s just so fundamental to the human experience. We want to have tribes, we want to be known and seen and we want to have connection more than anything else. And of course it makes sense, I mean, that’s just really, again, the way of the world. And certainly the pandemic has kind of pushed things in that direction. And again, I’ve seen the same thing personally … and that’s why honestly, until you said it, I had never really thought about the fact that LinkedIn really is community. That’s what it is. I mean, and frankly, this podcast was started and I sort of half joke that like so many others, it’s a pandemic baby. It came out of that we lost the ability to be together in person for such a long time.

Jeff Sirkin:
But then I was like, well, wait a second. Like, I can now talk to people and have great conversations and get to know people that live all across the world. And that frankly was always an option and I don’t know why it took sort of the pandemic to sort of force that. But seeing the value and the true generosity and the positive spirit that comes out of these places, again, I think it kind of goes exactly to what you’re saying. Just seeing how many people will chime in on somebody who got laid off or somebody who’s hiring and commenting just to keep boosting it with the algorithm. Just like the power of that, that so many people are just so willing to help. And I think that, for me, been probably one of the most heartening things seeing just personally over the last couple years.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah, absolutely. Couldn’t agree more.

Jeff Sirkin:
So speaking of LinkedIn as a community, I want to kind of transition that into personal branding. And I think there’s been a lot of talk about that over the last couple years. I know some people don’t like the term itself, but I’m curious, especially to get your perspective on how the work of kind of building a personal brand, whether intentional or not. And how that kind of intersects with the priorities and goals of Alyce.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah. So, I agree it’s weird because people don’t like that term occasionally. But regardless if you don’t like personal branding or not, everyone has a personal brand. You can either roll with it or you cannot. But just because you say you don’t like the word, doesn’t mean you don’t have one. And like, that’s why I never really understood why people were hating so much on like people using that. And like, I have people that don’t like the content that I post and I know they don’t. Because they’re like, you use the word personal branding, I just don’t believe in that.

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
And I’m just like, I can tell I am 100% a success story on why it’s important. And I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to … like at Alyce, they 100% embrace it. And I know some companies more of the larger enterprise companies think it’s … they don’t want people posting on LinkedIn during work hours. But like, you need to integrate it to your daily schedule. I’m not saying I sit on LinkedIn all day because I don’t. Like I do most of it on my phone and I look on the app. And I usually spend about an hour a day-

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
Across a 24 hour period on there. So it’s not like I’m on there for four or five hours a day. But I can tell you it’s open more doors than I ever thought were possible. And I’ll give you a couple examples. I was able to start two podcasts, fully produced by a company without me having to pay a dime. Which is nice, it’s like I have one podcast called Rep Your Brand, that’s all about personal branding for B2B marketers. And then I’ve got another one called Real ABM, which is like, it’s around ABM, no BS. Like, Hey, here’s six stories from B2B marketers, how they were successful.

Nick Bennett:
And so, I was able to create those and then get people to come on the show, like, Dave Gerhard, Justin Welsh, Chris Walker. Like all these people that I look up to on LinkedIn, like I just kind of dropped them up. Like, “Hey, you want to come on my podcast?” They replied back immediately, like, “Absolutely, let’s do it.” And so we had a lot of great conversations, I don’t care if anyone downloads the episodes. Like the amount that I’ve been able to learn from these people is worth more than anything else in the world.

Nick Bennett:
But I’ve also had the opportunity to start to monetize my personal brand. And it becomes a weird or somewhat taboo point because people are like, “Well, why would you monetize now?” I gave everything away for free for the last two years, year and a half, little over that. And so I was like, I was getting hit up by companies saying, “Hey, can we like sponsor you? Or can we do X, Y, Z with you? We’ll pay you.” And I would always just say, “No, no, I’ll just do it for free. Who cares?” And then I’m like, “Time in my bandwidth has become an issue.”

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah.

Nick Bennett:
When you were taking one to two calls a week of people wanting to pick your brain, it’s easy. You can just pop that in.

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
When that one to two becomes seven to 10 a week, it becomes very hard. And then when these people are like, you’re setting the time up and then they ghost you because for whatever reason. I’ve started to charge people to meet with me and like-

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah.

Nick Bennett:
Pick my brain. Unless like, I really, really know them and it’s something that like, I think I could just help very easily and I actually trust. But like lots of people that I’ve never even talked to before will shoot me a note and be like, “Hey, can we spend like an hour together?” I’m like, “Yeah, absolutely. It’s going to cost you though, because I just don’t have the time anymore.” And if I didn’t have like the brand that I’ve been able to build, it just wouldn’t have been possible.

Nick Bennett:
And another great example, I’m actually just going to announce this on LinkedIn, like a little bit later. But I partnered with Jason Vana to do like LinkedIn consultations for his clients. And so people have always asked me, “Hey, can you teach me more about LinkedIn?” And like, I just don’t have the time to do it myself. So I’m running off him, like through him and his business, but I’m handling the consults. So it’s a lot easier, I don’t have to manage the business aspect of it. And I’m super excited about that. But again, it’s all things that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve if I didn’t build for the last two years.

Jeff Sirkin:
There’s a couple things there. And thank you, I mean, that was amazing. And where I want to start is like, for anybody who saying, “Wow, okay. So, he’s really gone out and built his own personal brand.” It’s like, let’s remember that even within that, that you still delivered personally, 30 sales opportunities to Alyce that again, that are trackable today.

Nick Bennett:
Yep.

Jeff Sirkin:
So again, that is all in the sort of while building your personal brand. So this is not necessarily a matter of, I’m using my company time to go do this other thing that is really just benefiting me. I mean, clearly it’s benefiting Alyce very specifically right now, as well.

Nick Bennett:
Exactly.

Jeff Sirkin:
The other-

Nick Bennett:
Oh, sorry. I was going to say exactly. And that’s the thing like those 30 are only the ones that I actually know about-

Jeff Sirkin:
Right.

Nick Bennett:
Who knows if they’re even more than that.

Jeff Sirkin:
Right. And the other thing is like, it’s funny because I know people don’t like the term, generally, personal branding, it remind me of the other term that very similar to me is influencer. Nobody ever wants to say, “I am an influencer.” Because there’s a small subset of people that want that title, but everybody else is like, “Oh no, no, no.” And it’s like, no, but the truth is, and you said it like everybody has a personal brand, like it or not.

Jeff Sirkin:
And again, that will come back to you both positively and negatively. Like when it comes down to looking for job opportunities yourself, partnership opportunities. And to me, and I think we can all understand that the way the world is going, it’s going to be more patchwork as you say. It’s going to be more, “Hey, I have this partnership over here. I have this thing that I do personally, I have my own products. But then I still do work for this company.” And like, that’s more the way of the world and the way of the future. And so, you can acknowledge that you do or don’t have a personal brand, but you have one. And again, if you’re not spending any time or intent on it, then you probably don’t have a strong one.

Nick Bennett:
Exactly. And that was the thing. Like, I didn’t go into this, like thinking that I was going to like monetize at some point. Like I was just doing it honestly as a side hustle-

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah.

Nick Bennett:
Like creating content on LinkedIn was fun. I’m not a writer by any means, but like, I know how to write choppy copy, which is what I call, like how I post on like LinkedIn-

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
Like I was talking about field marketing because no one else was. And it was like, all right, cool. More and more time passed. People would always DM me saying how much it’s helped them. They’re like, oh, do you have an ebook or do you have a course or something? And honestly, my ABM playbook that I wrote was because people were like, “I want to learn more about your ABM strategy, like how to do ABM if I’ve never done it before.” So I built that.

Nick Bennett:
I actually have a new ebook coming out that’s like a personal roadmap to creating your personal brand and kind of like my journey. And then tangible tips and takeaways on like how to do it yourself. And I was thinking the other day and I was running it by a friend of mine. I was like, “I think I’m just going to give it away for free.” And they were like, “Why?” And I was just like, “I think that the more I can get content out there and get across different channels. A couple years from now, if I ever go down like, Hey, I want to be consultant. Or I want to like do my own thing. Like this will all help me.” And Ross Simmons is always like, “Create wants, distribute forever.”

Jeff Sirkin:
Yep.

Nick Bennett:
And like, that’s the mindset that I’ve been trying to take. And it’s not about the revenue streams and things like that. It’s about helping people, absolutely. But it’s about setting myself up for long term success, as well.

Jeff Sirkin:
And I mean, it’s funny because as you’re saying that, I’m just thinking to all of the sort of back and forth and debate over whether companies should be gating their content. We’re now talking about the same thing personally. It’s like, should I be putting a paywall in front of this? And then, again, it’s the same idea. Like I know longer term and if you’re playing the long game for yourself, again, it’s the distribution. It’s like getting the ideas out there and making yourself more known. And of course there is a time then where it’s like, “Okay, now it makes sense to kind of cash in on it.” But it is interesting that now some of those conversations that we’ve had in B2B marketing on behalf of companies for such a long time are now kind of bleeding into the personal realm too.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah. It’s crazy. A lot of people like, what’s your end goal? And I’ll be honest, I don’t have an end goal. I didn’t even-

Jeff Sirkin:
Yep.

Nick Bennett:
Know I would get to where I am like right now. For me, if I can add value, great. If I can create some side hustle money off of this, awesome. Like my regular job at Alyce still comes first. However, like if I’m not thinking about setting my family up for long term growth and success, then I’m thinking about it wrong. And I think that’s the way that my mindset’s starting to think. Like, yeah, I get it. Like people charge different things, like they have different ideas. Like I just want to create revenue streams that will set my family up for success in the long run. And like, that’s like my new mentality. I don’t have an end goal, I don’t know if I’ll ever just do consulting down the road. Like for now, this is just fun, it’s a side hustle. Like I’ve been able to have a lot of success from it and I’m just excited to see where it continues to go.

Jeff Sirkin:
I love that. And you’re so right. And the thing I’ve always said is, I have trust in people. But generally, again, like nobody’s going to look out for you like you need to look out for you. And that’s just a fact. And we all need to think that way, it’s not because we shouldn’t be trustworthy. But fundamentally, we are the only ones that are going to prioritize ourselves first.

Nick Bennett:
Yep, absolutely.

Jeff Sirkin:
And for what it’s worth, that is not selfish. In order for you to be your best self, to give to others, you need to fill your own cup first. I mean, the silly example, but it’s true. It’s like, that’s why when the airline flight instructions that none of us listen to, where it says, put on your own mask first before helping others. Because if you’re struggling to breathe, you’re going to have a hard time helping somebody else put our mask. And it’s the same idea. So, it’s not necessarily a matter of just … it’s not even a selfish statement. It’s the idea of, I can give more, I can help more if I am sort of in a better place myself.

Nick Bennett:
Yep, absolutely. For sure.

Jeff Sirkin:
So one thing I just want to touch on, one of the themes I keep kind of coming around to is how you have such a great sort of finger on the pulse of your market. And some of it comes from, frankly, as you’ve said, kind of being in your own ICP, you sell to marketers. And also from frankly, even just internally having your experience with sales, helping you understand how to navigate the world of being able to bridge between marketing and sales. And then being a member of all these different communities. But, I would just love you to … are there any other things that you’re doing, any other strategies that are very intentional about how you really keep that finger on the pulse? And how you’re having sort of more regular communications with people daily, that’s kind of helping inform your worldview?

Nick Bennett:
Yeah. I’ve definitely slowed down on the amount. Like I have a very small circle of people that like I reach out to on a very regular basis. We have a lot of talks. I wouldn’t call them mentors, per se, but like they’ve helped guide me, especially over the last couple of years. And so, a lot of times when I was first starting out, I would reach out to people on LinkedIn. I would be like, “Hey, can we like just chat one on one?” People that I wanted to like learn from. And like, it was good, I learned a ton. But now it’s got to the point again where it’s like so much of a timing issue where I just kind of rely on that small group.

Nick Bennett:
And I think everyone should have like that subset of your tribe. That’s like, Hey, these are my five go-to’s that I talk to on a regular basis. And I’m bouncing ideas off of. And however you make that up or whatever the number is, it’s up to you. But I think that’s helped make some tremendous strides for me personally. Not even from like a work standpoint, but just-

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
From like a mental, like professional, just they’ve helped me through a lot of different things. And I think finding that group for yourself is very important.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah. I love that. And again, now that there’s so many more opportunities to find the tribe and continuing to find new tribes. But the fact that that’s now so much easier in sort of the digital world. And so certainly, a silver lining of, again, back to sort of … and not just LinkedIn specifically, but just that idea of that social media as a community.

Nick Bennett:
Absolutely.

Jeff Sirkin:
That’s so powerful. So thank you for that. It was really powerful and so you ready for a couple rapid fire questions?

Nick Bennett:
I’m ready.

Jeff Sirkin:
Okay. So the first one, and again, from your perspective, what’s the most overrated marketing activity?

Nick Bennett:
I think trade shows and just like events, in general. Like people just do them just to do them, but like they don’t know what their outcome of what they’re trying to achieve is. It’s same thing, it’s like people download an ebook and marketers get excited because they like, “Oh, I’m going to pass these over to sales.” But no, like you got to figure out your outcome first and focus on the channels that make a difference.

Jeff Sirkin:
And what I would always say is start with, why does it matter to them?

Nick Bennett:
Absolutely.

Jeff Sirkin:
So then let’s go positive, so now what would you say is the most underrated marketing activity?

Nick Bennett:
I mean, something I’ve had a ton of success with it as LinkedIn conversational ads. Running convo ads as part of your paid strategy has like delivered so much for me since I started testing them out like five months ago.

Jeff Sirkin:
I love that. Yeah. And then, frankly, that’s not one that you hear a lot. That’s great. So for somebody … and especially thinking of somebody a little earlier in their career, potentially like, what, from your perspective, is the skill or the set of skills that is most important that a marketer can possess?

Nick Bennett:
Curiosity. And I think that it’s, I talk to a lot of college students and they’re like, should I be focused more on like getting into a generalist type of marketing role or specialist? And I think that everyone should try the generalist piece first before you move into a specialist. Because you want to figure out what you like, you might get into doing events or doing digital. And you might like something more than others. I think that’s the thing, like try as many different things as possible to hone in on like, what do you actually care about? Because for me, like, I’ll give you a perfect example, people like you should try product marketing. Like I have no interest in product marketing. I respect the heck out of like what they do and like they’re in such high demand right now. But like I would never want to try product marketing. And I’ve never tried it, but I think everyone should try something out like that.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah. The thing I always say is … and I’m so glad you said. My answer is always intellectual curiosity is why I refer to it as. Like, because you might be working on some small part of it, but then just understanding or even just as we talked about marketing in sales, like, okay, so we’re doing a trade show. So we’re getting these leads. What’s happening with them? Just being curious about, okay, what’s happening with them? Why do sales want to talk to them? Why would they want to talk to sales? Like I think when you have curiosity, I think that is … and I agree, I think that is the one skill to rule them all. Because it kind of helps give you perspective of everything else.

Jeff Sirkin:
And then the rest of it is just kind of logically putting the pieces in place. And it’s like, well, if these people are showing up to our booth and they’re getting a free key chain or something like that, but they’re not really ready to have a sales conversation, then why are we passing them to sales? But those are the kinds of things that come up when you actually think kind of like when you get curious about all the connection points between the things you’re already doing.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah. And I was going to add to that, like, I actually put our LinkedIn post today and it’s like, focus on like, what is the goal or outcome? What’s the experience? What’s the offer? Before you’re going down any type of marketing campaign or idea, it’s like figure out those three things before you go into just doing something to do it.

Jeff Sirkin:
I would say, if I could tell any young marketer, I always say like the two things that you should ask or at least to be thinking about in every meeting is like, what’s the goal? And how are we going to measure it? If you come in with those two questions, you will always, always, always move the conversation in a positive direction.

Nick Bennett:
Yep. Absolutely.

Jeff Sirkin:
And this is like a fun hypothetical, marketers are great at doing more with less, so that’s why I’d like to spin it around a little bit and say, so if you were given an extra 20% in your budget, but you had to spend it today. So it’s not a matter of oh, okay. I can just sort of blend this across all the things I’m doing. Where would you allocate that additional budget, that windfall?

Nick Bennett:
I would say paid. I think paid, especially for marketers and like targeting on LinkedIn. I would say for us, it’s a little bit easier. We use Six Sense, so taking that intent to LinkedIn so that you’re very targeted in who you’re getting your specific offers and messages to. It’s provided tremendous success for us since we kind of like double down on that. And so I would definitely throw money towards that.

Jeff Sirkin:
I love that. And then, I know we’ve already talked about a few different things here and there. But what resources, books, blogs, podcasts, anything would you want to recommend to our audience?

Nick Bennett:
Yeah, so I would definitely … I’ll be honest, I don’t read a ton of books, but I do listen to podcasts. And so, I mean, I got to throw State of Demand Gen with Chris Walker up there. I think it’s done a lot, especially for someone that isn’t a typical Demand Gen marketer or doesn’t have a traditional like paid background, which is what-

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
They focus on. Like it’s helped me a lot and learn and like, what does success look like versus what does it not look like? And so I think that’s been important. But also just find the 10 to 15 people that are like minded to you on LinkedIn and just follow them every single day, read their content. Like add value to their specific content, because those are the people and things that you can kind of learn from very, very quickly and then start to mix in these additional podcasts. Like, I know Metadata just released like their new one where they’re focusing on like specific different pieces, every single … I don’t know if it’s weak or biweekly or whatever. I listen to the first one and it was really, really helpful on like audience targeting, things like that. And I like the podcast where there’s actual, tangible advice that comes out of it that you can go implement yourself.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yep. That’s certainly my goal, too. I mean, I always feel that I read way too many business books probably, but most of them, I end up kind of walking away feeling a little cold because they get me excited about the idea. And then I feel like at the end of it, I still don’t know any more of how to actually do it.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah.

Jeff Sirkin:
But the other thing, and again, I want to just call out what you just said is, so many people are … there’s only, I think I’ve seen numbers that say only like 6% of people are posting on LinkedIn. There’s 16 times as many people that are there then are actually creating the post. So for anybody, who doesn’t really know how to sort of dip a toe in the water and start kind of creating their own personal brand. To your point, following and commenting and adding value to conversations, it’s a much easier and lower lift and it’s not really a commitment you need to be able to make to yourself. So, I think that’s where you can start dipping your toe in the water. And then to your point, I think that will help you kind of further refine that tribe of yours.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah, exactly. And then it also, if you’re one of the first people and I give this as advice occasionally where it’s like, if you say for example, Justin Welsh, he posts-

Jeff Sirkin:
Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett:
At the same time every single day.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yep.

Nick Bennett:
And so if you’re one of those first people that comments on his stuff, adds value, adds insight. You’re organically going to drive people back to your own page. So you don’t even have to be posting your own content.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yep.

Nick Bennett:
However, you’re going to build up your audience over time by doing this, to say 10 to 15 people a day. That’s great.

Jeff Sirkin:
And then finally, speaking of which, where can people find and connect with you on social media?

Nick Bennett:
Yeah. LinkedIn is probably the best spot for me. Nick Bennett. Alyce is usually where you can kind of find me. I’m also on Twitter, I started to kind of dabble a little bit more over there. Still don’t really know what I’m doing, it’s a completely different beast than LinkedIn, but I’ve had-

Jeff Sirkin:
Marketing Twitter’s a different world.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah, exactly. But those are definitely the two spots. And if you want to learn more about Alyce and B2B gifting, you can go to alyce.com.

Jeff Sirkin:
Absolutely. And all of that will be linked in the show notes.

Nick Bennett:
I appreciate that.

Jeff Sirkin:
Well, Nick, this was awesome. Thanks so much for coming on and thank you for taking the time with us.

Nick Bennett:
Yeah. Thanks for having me. It was so much fun.

Jeff Sirkin:
I really enjoyed my conversation with Nick. I love that he doesn’t shy away from the topic of personal branding. And it’s a great example of how it can help you individually, as well as bring value to the company you work for. If you want to learn more about the resources mentioned in the episode, you can find them in our show notes. In addition, we’re publishing the full text transcripts of the episodes on our website, at SirkinResearch.com/podcasts. Thank you for listening. And I hope you’ll join us for a new story next week on Long Story Short.

 

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