The psychology of emotion in B2B marketing with Ruslan Tovbulatov, VP Global Marketing at Gloat

The differences in B2C and B2B marketing tactics are diminishing, as digital marketers realise that psychological rules apply across most purchase decisions.

On this episode of the FINITE Podcast, our host Alex talks to Ruslan Tovbulatov, who is currently VP Global Marketing at Gloat – an AI powered talent marketplace. Ruslan has a background in consumer marketing at Google, where he lead global innovation and launched Google’s BrandLab.

Ruslan is passionate about emotional storytelling in marketing, so on the podcast he talked about the power of emotion in B2B decision making, how to find emotional stories within a B2B company and how to measure the emotional impact of marketing campaigns.

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And check out more of the FINITE B2B marketing podcast here

Full Transcript

Alex (00:08):

Hello everybody and welcome back to the FINITE podcast. On the podcast today, we’re talking with Ruslan Tovbulatov. Ruslan is currently VP of Global Marketing at Gloat, an AI powered talent marketplace product. And he has a background in consumer marketing, having worked at Google and YouTube and in market research. 

We’re going to be talking about emotion within B2B marketing elements of storytelling and neuroscience that can really elicit more of an emotional response from a B2B buyer. It’s a fascinating subject. One that I really want to spend more time talking about in everything we do at FINITE. So I hope you enjoy.

FINITE (00:43):

The FINITE community and podcast are currently supported by 93x. The digital marketing agency working exclusively with ambitious fast-growth B2B technology companies. Visit to find out how they partner with marketing teams in B2B technology companies to drive growth.

Alex (01:04):

Thanks for joining me today.

Ruslan (01:06):

Thank you for having me, Alex. It’s a pleasure.

Alex (01:08):

Looking forward to talking. We’ve got an interesting one, a subject that is becoming more and more close to my heart, I think. And I mentioned to you before, I’m on a bit of a mission to talk about what we’re going to be talking about a bit more frequently on the podcast and just genuinely and in everything we do at FINITE. 

So I’m looking forward to the conversation a lot. As we always do, I’ll let you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background experience, current role, and then we’ll dive into the subject.

About Ruslan’s background in B2C and B2B 

Ruslan (01:33):

Yeah, of course. I’ve been in the marketing and tech landscape for quite a while. Now I’ll give you a quick background just to set the scene cause we’ll cover a lot of ground today I’m sure. And then likewise, this is a topic near and dear to my heart, but the context with which I’m coming in, I started my career on the marketing research side, doing qualitative and quantitative insights for a lot of the largest CPG brands. So very much on the consumer side with the likes of PepsiCo and others at a company called Kantar Retail

And then I found my way to Google, moved to the West coast, went deep on the digital marketing ecosystem, the SEO/SEM world. But also went deep on display mobile programmatic, learned the ins and outs of both performance marketing, but also increasingly brand. And part of that brand journey took me to YouTube where I actually launched a team called BrandLab. 

And over the course of about five years, we helped about 250 of the largest advertisers working with Google, look at how they take their traditional brand strategies and move them to digital. And so I got to work with companies all around the world, to CMOs and their directors, both from consumer packaged goods and the daily consumer brands. 

But also some of the largest B2B enterprises and fell in love with B2B actually in that moment, but also saw the power of B2B brands learning from consumer brands as we helped a lot of them embrace digital for the first time. Then I found my way, I actually got an opportunity to join a startup called Thrive Global in the health and wellbeing space and ended up being a CMO there, working for Ariana Huffington and Thrive Global. 

And now I currently sit as VP of Global Marketing at a company called Gloat and oversee brand, demand, product marketing, and then a content layer that underpins all of it. And yeah, very happy to be here and to share bits and pieces from across that whole journey today.

Alex (03:25):

Looking forward to it. Tell us a little bit about what you do at Gloat and the team. You mentioned the different functions you’ve got within the team, but tell us a little bit more about size and scale and how everything works in the current role.

About Ruslan’s current role at Gloat 

Ruslan (03:36):

Yeah, absolutely. So I was blessed at Google to work with some of the largest enterprises of the world, but I really enjoy the idea of building something from scratch. And so when I was at Thrive, really building up the team from zero to this kind of scale, and then here at Gloat, we are a current series B HR tech company, but really redefining the way work is being done. 

So the really quick version is, we pioneered a category called talent marketplace. And so my role as marketing leader is to bring that story to the world, almost creating that category awareness. And what we do is basically allow talent from within a company to move around and connect them to opportunities within the company that otherwise they may have not seen, may have left the company instead of actually contributing their amazing talents, skills, aspirations, all of that. 

And how do you tell that story to the world as its entirely new technology? So a lot of category creation has been done, but now it’s how do we actually get it out there from the brand side, create a demand funnel for our sales team to really run with. We are a large enterprise sale and so product marketing becomes really important. 

The demand engine and really understanding the performance side of it is really important, but really what I try to infuse in all of it is how do we mix both the rational decision-making side with some of that emotional storytelling that I think is increasingly important in the B2B space? I’m bringing that to the Gloat ecosystem, if you will.

Alex (05:09):

Cool. Well, that sets us up nicely to talk about what we’re talking about, which is emotion within the B2B marketing landscape. You’ve talked a little bit about your background and I guess I’m always interested in this kind of B2C/B2B divide. It comes up so often, I don’t really fully understand why it’s such a formal divide. 

That said I’m running a community for B2B marketers, so maybe I’m creating the divide to some extent, I’m somewhat responsible. But I guess the challenges in B2B are still there and somewhat unique. But how did you find if we dive into the initial questions, that move from B2C to B2B in terms of different points across your career. 

Because I think a lot of marketers I’ve spoken to see job specs which they think are great for them. And then it’s like, you need to have experience in B2B or B2C or vice versa, and they don’t. And so they’ve got every other hard skill and soft skill you could imagine, but not one box ticking exercise, which just seems like a real shame and a bit of a waste. So I’m interested in your experience with that kind of transition.

How is the B2B/B2C divide decreasing? 

Ruslan (06:07):

Yeah, it is a fascinating question. I do see the argument both ways, I’m more on your side where I think at the end of the day, this movement of people talking about it’s just person to person marketing is probably the right way to look at it, but I will say there are some nuances. I think in B2B, especially when you’re talking about large enterprises, the large scale of how many influencers are in a decision, the time it takes to make a decision, especially when you’re talking large enterprise sales. 

That motion, it is unique, which we’ll get into I think, and that’s where in my mind, I think a lot of marketers get that piece wrong because they go to more of the rational side and more of the functions features as the answer to that. And I actually think it’s the opposite. 

I think emotion actually becomes more important in that type of sale. The reality is though, I think it is true as I’ve observed it. And what I try to do is on the whole, enterprise and B2B marketing can learn a lot from B2C. And the reality is if you just look at the history, there’s a lot of talk and I break it up into almost three buckets. 

I think we’re inspired by the actual format of the message and the evolution there, what the message is, and then who’s delivering it. And I think each of those buckets in a way, consumer and B2C continues to influence B2B. And so when I was even at YouTube, our challenge then, in 2011/2012 was how do you get B2C marketers to think beyond the 30 second spot? And we broke them free, and all of a sudden you had Dove sketches and then you had all these amazing five second adverts. And you had all this creativity unleashed. 

And I think in the same way, you’re seeing that happen, but there’s still a lot of work to do in the B2B equivalent, which is still such a reliance on white papers and webinars and all these traditional formats. But you see a lot of innovation now happening where you have website graders and different interesting headline analysers and companies doing really interesting things that add value and break the traditional format. 

I think the second thing was this idea of the message. And so for years, since almost the beginning of time, the idea of why they call them soap operas, they were literally sponsored by soap companies. And this idea of emotion, even Snickers positioned themselves as the cure for being hangry like the ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’. It’s a Snickers bar, but that’s the same thing on the message side in B2B. 

You see more and more marketers realising the equivalent there, which is how do we infuse emotion and storytelling and the actual end user benefit? So we’re not just talking about ‘we’re faster or cheaper’ or whatever, ‘more efficient or safer’, but actually what does that enable people to do? And so that message evolution is a big one. 

And then the third piece is who’s delivering it? I think this is the next frontier. Many companies are already doing it, but you know, you saw celebrity endorsements. I was actually just looking this up recently, started in as early as like the 1800s. This idea of celebrities endorsing products or being influencers, that’s so commonplace in B2C, you can’t do B2C marketing without doing it. And I think it’s just getting bigger and bigger and enterprise. 

And so I love seeing, you look at the summits, like Gong just had theirs the other week and magic Johnson was headlining it. And I love seeing that, but that’s also been happening for some time. SAP has been doing influencer marketing forever and you talk to anyone there, Karlie Kloss, and what they did with Kode with Klossy which was a huge success. 

Better Up just got Prince Harry, there’s a reason there’s a strategic reason to do some of those things. And so on those three buckets, I think there’s a huge, almost like we’re learning and getting inspiration from consumer and bringing it to B2B and I love seeing it.

Alex (10:02):

Are there particular trends? You were at YouTube working with big brands and I guess varying levels of creativity and things, but are there other trends in consumer marketing that you see really beginning to influence B2B? I think that influencer marketing generally is a really interesting one that a lot of B2B businesses haven’t, as you say, like SAP, Salesforce, I think is a good example with the conferences. The type of people they bring along to that, are there other things that you’ve seen from your more B2C days that you see beginning to creep into B2B?

Ruslan (10:34):

Yeah, the influencer thing is a big one. I think the story, and we’ll get into it, the general notion of storytelling and focusing on end user benefit, I think is becoming more and more prominent as well. Just not thinking about what does the product do, but what is the actual end user benefit and end buyer benefit of it all I think is another big bucket. That is a no-brainer if you’re a marketer who loves the art and science of marketing, but there is still, I think, a lot of catching up that is happening there.

Why is emotion relevant in B2B marketing? 

Alex (11:05):

Yeah, and I guess that was one of the questions, was why is emotion so relevant in B2B marketing? But within the tech landscape in particular, as you point out a lot of tech companies lead with the product features and what it does and the widgets, and this is how it integrates and check our API. 

And it’s very functional and they miss this layer of the business message more generally, but they also miss out on a lot of the emotion. Is that why you think it’s even more of an opportunity in B2B than B2C, to some extent?

Ruslan (11:36):

I’ll share the anecdote that actually made me realise the power of emotion in B2B. And I will shout out a woman that kind of got me my bearings and then send me on the right path. Kim Larson, who we brought on, she really was the reason BrandLab became what it was at Google. 

We were doing one of our first enterprise initiatives of the company. And she said, imagine choosing between Pepsi and Coke at a restaurant. Now imagine making that choice for your team. Now imagine making that choice for your company and the stakes suddenly change quite a bit. Okay, the restaurant doesn’t have Pepsi or I made the decision to switch things up, I might go Coke. All right, fine. It’s just my decision when you do it for a team and I don’t know how big your teams are, but let’s say they’re 10/15 people, whatever. 

Now, all of a sudden the stakes are higher, but imagine the whole organisation, now imagine doing it for a hundred thousand people or 300,000 people. At that point, your reputation is on the line. So a lot of times people miss that, and it’s such a simple exercise to do when you realise this is so much bigger than features and functions. Where you have to be so invested in a decision and you are, whether you want to or not, you are all in that emotional connection to that decision. 

Frankly, the Coke example is a great one because that’s almost even a simpler decision, but imagine you were choosing the beverage stock for all of your offices. And so that anecdote really stuck with me and I think it tells that whole story. I also go deep on almost the neuroscience and psychology of decision making on these things, but that simple anecdote always stays with me because the stakes are so much higher. 

And then the other piece that becomes more and more important too, what’s different is that the sales cycle is also almost always longer, even in product led growth companies. At the end of the day, it’s not that spur of the moment, five second decision. Even the swipe of a credit card requires a little more friction than the quick decision of a Coke or not. And so you think about large enterprise sales, you might be talking months of a sales cycle. You might be talking dozens of influencers and people in the decision-making process. 

So now all of a sudden you have to have champions within the organisation that are so confident and passionate about your product or service that they can go and convince someone else. There’s no way your sales team or your marketing team is going to be in front of every one of those interactions.

If you’re great, hopefully you have been exposing yourself in some way to each of those decision makers, but you still have to know that that champion in the organisation is going into the room and pitching your product service, whatever it might be in the most effective way. And emotion becomes so critical in all of that.

Alex (14:29):

I did an episode not long ago with a guy called Rory Sutherland. You may have heard of him, but he’s in the UK. He heads up a behavioural science practice, neuroscience type practice for Ogilvy, the ad agency. And he was talking about, and I’m at risk of paraphrasing and not doing it justice cause he’s pretty eloquent with his words. 

But basically saying similar, that no one ever got fired for hiring IBM. I’m sure you’ve heard that expression. It’s one that gets used here in the UK a lot, but I’m sure everywhere. When you mess up a decision for yourself, you feel maybe a sense of guilt, but when you mess up a decision for other people, you feel embarrassment and that’s far more of a powerful emotion than a sense of internal guilt. 

I think that’s something that often people forget in that complexity and scale of B2B decision-making. But let’s talk about that emotional side of the neuroscience of decision-making. I think it’s pretty fascinating and it sounds like you’ve got some thoughts on it.

What is the neuroscience behind B2B decision making? 

Ruslan (15:26):

Yeah. I kind of obsess over this and I probably have more books than I have even have time to read on this topic, but yeah, I spent a lot of time thinking about this because I try to bring this down in this way. I love being at a smaller company and really growing it from the ground up as they get to put these things into practice and see the power of it. 

I basically break it down into two principles. It’s kind of where I am in my journey of thinking about the psychology and neuroscience broken down into this and what marketers need to think about one is that, and Daniel Kahneman‘s always credited, I think with the best known version of this. But this idea that there’s this emotional and rational side of us. And I think everyone’s read Thinking Fast and Slow. There was actually a book that came out the year before, which a lot of people also know, but it almost doesn’t get enough credit, called Switch by Chip and Dan Heath and they cited this amazing research, which I think distills down a lot of complex neuroscience into the concept of an elephant and a rider. 

And this idea that all of us want to think we are the rational decision maker, the rider that is using logic on all of the decisions, but the reality is the most powerful force driving all of us as human beings is this elephant that we’re sitting on top of. And you can control that elephant with the reins for a while, but at some point impulse takes over. 

And so at the core of this research, which was done by someone named Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia, is this concept of self control being a finite resource. And that gets really heady. But if you take it down to marketing, what that means is all of us want to be rational. Everyone approaches a decision wanting to be rational, but at the end of the day as humans, we are going to allow our impulses to take over. 

And at the end of the day, that elephant is actually going to win over. So you always have to be thinking about the emotional side and it’s not even just because it sounds cool and it’s fun to work on. It’s literally the neuroscience and psychology of how we work. 

The second piece that’s really fascinating to me that I think some marketers get wrong is, I’m not saying that emotion is always more important than rational decision-making, especially when you’re in a large enterprise sale, you still have to have the value calculator and you still have to tell the business impact story. It’s a matter of the order. 

A lot of marketers, and I love this guy and you should read him if you haven’t, Robert Cialdini has this great book and a lot of research around this idea of Pre-Suasion. And the concept there is that it’s not just about shifting someone’s beliefs or decisions, it’s actually about putting them in the right context when they’re making those decisions. 

And that’s where I believe emotion becomes really important. He has a lot of anecdotes on this, but there’s one I always reference and tell people. Two researchers basically try to understand how you can influence someone’s decision-making and used a very simple method. 

So they wanted to create a scenario where people could try a new soft drink, and to get people to try the soft drink in order to get access to it you have to provide your email address. So they went to one group and said, “we have this new soft drink. Do you want to try it and give us your email address?” About 33%, a third of people said, okay, then they took another group and said before they asked them to provide the email addresses, they asked them, do you think you’re an adventurous person? And you like to try new things? And then they asked them for the email address. 77%, or I think just over 75% of people provided their email address. 

And so that to me that is all about the order. The decision didn’t change, just like the purchase decision and the value calculator might not change in B2B, but the context within which you enter that conversation has just fundamentally shifted. So if a marketer can influence the context and the emotion with which you’re receiving the features functions, that I think is the most important thing. 

And that I think is not just because it sounds good. It’s literally leveraging psychology and neuroscience to do the thing that is going to actually have an optimal reaction from another human.

Alex (19:49):

Yeah. That’s a great story. And so that is really getting that response from a buyer. I think about this a lot myself, and even in my own personal stories of running, not with FINITE, but running an agency separately, particularly a few years ago when I was younger than even than I am now. 

And going to pitch clients who would often think I would go in there really nervous about the fact we were a small business and I was quite young and yet it took me years to realise that that was actually like a massive combative advantage. Placed in the right way or framed in the right way and told in the right way and in the right order, as you kind of just pointed out. 

And I felt like I lost years of opportunities just wanting to try and cover that up and not recognising that trying to pretend that we were bigger than we were and there was more happening, but actually instead really owning it in that sense. So that definitely definitely resonates. 

But the order point is an interesting one, cause I never really thought about the specific order in which you say things. But I mean, the numbers literally speak for themselves, right? With the example that you gave. So it’s pretty cool. 

This telling of stories, aspect of things is really interesting because I think a lot of B2B marketers will be listening to this thinking I work in some super dry, boring corporate FinTech, API, white label, payment solution, whatever. Where the hell do I find a story? How do I even start with this? 

I think across the B2B landscape, there are disciplines within B2B tech that are naturally more emotional than others, right? Like in HR, you’re dealing with people’s lives and their careers. So it’s not saying it’s any easier, but maybe you’ve got a few different routes. And with other businesses, it’s maybe a little bit more challenging? But any thoughts or advice on how you begin thinking about things in terms of telling those stories?

How do you find stories for a B2B tech company? 

Ruslan (21:37):

The funny thing is people get jaded and don’t realise the treasures they’re sitting on a lot of times with these companies. And frankly, the larger the organisation, the more interesting it usually is. People just don’t give it credit. We used to do this exercise at BrandLab called the brand assets exercise. And we would literally spend an hour uncovering the assets that sit within a company. And there are always are so many. 

I actually just heard your episode talking about IBM. You think about a company like that, I think he shared this story of he said something about, this isn’t rocket science. And he’s like, well, I’m a rocket scientist. Like you have all these people in your midst. You have the history of the company in the midst of all this amazing innovation happening a lot of times. And actually each, to your point on the industry, depending on the size, you can flex it up or down. 

And so those are three key buckets I always encourage people to start with. One is that, what’s the history? The largest companies, they always have the most amazing stories, right? Like Unilever and the story of the Lever brothers and providing soap. And literally the purpose they talk about now is rooted in the purpose that existed when they tried to bring soap and cleanliness and safety to the masses. 

But that also happens with the founding teams of these newer companies, right? Like I love Gloat, Ben our CEO and the two founders, they knew each other from the military. Ben was actually working on AI to find the best recruits for the Israeli military, build the best technology for the military. Then he said, how can we actually take this to the masses? This is incredible. Like this is recruiting AI, how do we take it into this world? 

And we found this opportunity, that internal matching the AI actually I’ll share this quick story. They found that the AI kept telling people from the outside to just stay within their own companies. Like the next best step for them was in their own companies. And that story is amazing, right? Like that’s why the company exists. You have someone that worked on the best technology in the world for one purpose. They applied it into the corporate world and all of a sudden found that the best matches for people were internal and you build a whole company out of it. 

And so every company, no matter your size, has an interesting history. The other piece I just touched on was the innovation, right? There’s a reason why we all know about Nike’s Flyknit or we all remember the shocks, right? You probably still remember the little spring of the shock. They mastered that innovation story, but it doesn’t have to stay in B2C. B2B companies have even more amazing things they don’t bring to the surface. 

Like one of the favourite videos I had when we were launching BrandLab was from IBM actually, there was a video called A boy and his Atom… amazing. Like it basically showed like the technology of how they were able to move atoms at IBM and record it. You saw that and you were like, oh my god, I didn’t know that this is how advanced IBM was. This was a safe choice before, I didn’t know that they were innovating like that. 

So a lot of companies are doing so much, and one thing if people haven’t watched it, huge shout out to the Google team that built it. They just came out with this company, this hour long video called Trillions of questions, no easy answers. Like an hour long documentary all about how search works. I just checked. It had like almost a hundred million views right now on YouTube. It’s just insane. 

So people don’t take it for granted, right? The whole video is shot beautifully, but it’s really just how does search work? And then the third piece, which is tied to all of it is just the people, is always so powerful too. And everyone talks about what David Cancel‘s doing at Drift is like, just to be empowering individuals within the company to actually be voices and tell their stories. And that was true even in that Google video, which kind of combines all three things.

Alex (25:16):

Yeah. I was going to say the people aspect of that Google video, that the human aspect was the bit that really shine through for me, like it was super informative. I watched it twice in a week, I was like I’m in the SEO world. And that was pretty insightful from a more hands-on perspective, but just showing at the same time, showing the people behind Google was pretty cool as well, and a very personal story. But yeah, that’s some good tips. 

I think my favourite, his name is Tinker Hatfield. I forget his name, the Nike designer that designed the Air Max. I saw him talk and I was at South by Southwest a few years ago and he did this awesome talk, there were screaming from the crowd holding their Amex in the air, trying to get him to sign it. And he was a pretty cool guy, but like that story of how he designed such an iconic shoe or loads of different shoes for Nike is pretty cool.

Ruslan (26:03):

And I believe we can do that in B2B by the way, I think that’s the goal for every marketer. I do think we can create that same passion and you see some of the Gongs of the world trying to do that. We’re doing it, like there’s so many people right now and I’m trying to create more of a platform for it. 

We did it at Thrive very successfully, you know, where people want to be like a Thriver. And we were able to tell the stories of the Jeff Bezos’s of the world and Kevin Durant’s, but also just the everyday person in the corporate environment who is actually prioritising their mental health or sleeping better and showing that off. 

And now we’re doing that at Gloat tremendously. How do you create opportunities for yourself and I’m basically working on what’s our version of the Slack wall of love, the people showing what a technology like Gloat can allow them to achieve or allow them to become. And I do think we can create fans and advocates like that Air Max example you shared.

Alex (26:55):

Yeah. And is it as simple as just telling the story? Because sometimes it feels like if you just tell the story and everybody’s got a history and a legacy and you don’t have to look far often for something interesting, is simply telling the story enough to go on to that emotional engagement reaction in itself? Like if you share the story, the emotion kind of follows?

Ruslan (27:17):

I think if it’s authentic, you are probably better off. I think the hard part with a lot of B2B, especially the larger you are, once it goes, any creative you talk to will say this. It could start as this amazing, beautiful asset. And then once it goes through the layers of approval, who knows where it lands. So if it’s authentic to the original story and the human element of it, I think it usually is effective. 

But the filter, we created a framework around this back at Google and I apply it to my everyday even now, is I always look at a piece of creative, whether it’s video or audio or text or case study. And I always ask, what does it make me think, feel or do? 

And you really have to remove yourself from, even if you wrote it, you have to really remove yourself from that and say, I’m an outsider experiencing this. What at the end of experiencing this, whether it’s a case study like I said, or a video, what am I actually going to think feel or do? And if you don’t have an emotional reaction of any kind, or if you’re not inspired to do anything or think anything, then the filter we always said is, think about whether it’s inspiring, educating or entertaining. And if it’s doing one of the three, you’re onto something, if it’s doing more than one, you’re usually like really good. 

And that’s why that Google video, we were just talking about you were a perfect example. You said you were educated because you learned things you didn’t know before you were certainly entertained. And in a way you were even inspired, they made it so emotional. This person walked into the room. Are we going to get approved? Are we not? And so that asset, there’s a reason why it has a hundred million views right now because it hit on all three. 

So that’s that filter I always try to put on. It’s much easier said than done by the way, when you’re really close to the creative and you’re close to the brand, sometimes you think something is great, but it really is important to take a step back and ask those questions.

Alex (29:06):

Yeah. Are there other examples of brands, marketing stories you’ve told in that space that you think are worth mentioning or examples of other things you’ve mentioned a few businesses that you see doing things quite well? Like the Gongs of the world, but any other examples?

Examples of brands telling emotional stories 

Ruslan (29:19):

Yeah. I am really proud of what we did at Thrive, frankly. You know, this idea of how do you actually tell a story of what I call performance wellness? How do you create an engine of people? And I mentioned already, Jeff Bezos talking about how sleep is good for his decision-making or Selena Gomez was talking about how digital detox was important to her mental health. 

And then what we were able to do is really take that into the enterprise space and gets the HROs and people to really tell their own stories and almost create an engine around it. And I’m seeing a lot of that, it’s very powerful. I hope to celebrate more of this over the years with what we’re doing at Gloat too. 

We get to work with amazing partners like Unilever, and this is where also B2B marketing becomes interesting to me because increasingly you have to do consumer marketing as a B2B brand because it’s not enough to just get someone to buy the technology or service. You need to put it in the hands of people. 

We’re done with that era of someone buys like an HR Tech or like a payroll system and users don’t have to use it. Then user have to use it and they have to choose to engage with it. So what I love with Unilever, they’ve created this whole internal campaign as an example. When we were launching ‘lend a hand, raise a hand’, and it was this concept of, because what we do is we enable dynamic talent kind of reallocation. 

So if someone has capacity and someone else in the world needs help, you can help that person by saying, I have some capacity. I have some free time, and I’m interested in your project. How do you actually capture those stories and start celebrating them? So we have this amazing story of this person in Turkey who’s launched an ice cream brand by literally bringing together people from around the world. No new head count, he didn’t have any head count, but he brought together three to four new people in a sprint, launched a whole new flavour of ice cream in the Turkish market. 

And tremendously successful launch, took only weeks where we take much longer if it was a traditional hiring process. But that story then all of a sudden creates awareness. And so now people are like, wow, I could launch an ice cream brand, or I as a manager can actually invite people to participate. 

So even something that is, in a theory, a technology, that’s a layer underneath it all. Like Gloat and the buyer makes the decision to deploy, like Unilever’s relationship with us as they made a decision almost years ago, like we’re going to make an enterprise technology decision. 

But now we have this amazing opportunity to keep telling stories and almost marketing to hundreds of thousands of people. And that’s really powerful. So those are just a couple of examples that I’ve personally worked on. And then of course I admire many brands that we probably won’t have time to get into, but I love a lot of work that’s happening right now.

Alex (31:52):

I want to move towards wrapping up by talking about the measurement side of things. Then maybe, I mean, we’ve had such a like inspiring conversation about how much cool stuff there is out there. And maybe I’m a risk of popping the balloon at the end, by bringing it all back to like, how do we measure this stuff and how do you attribute it and how do you show that as working? But I’m going to ask the question anyway. 

When it comes to, and maybe heard me talking about this on the IBM episode with Brendan and the brand amplification lead talking about how you measure the return on things relating to brand. Ultimately as marketers, what’s the average tenure of a CMO two to three years, somewhere in that range? A lot of tech companies in the B2B space are VC or PE backed, like people want to make some money and double and triple and quadruple things in a few years. 

Results have to come in when you’re trying to invest in big brand building exercises that can be an uphill battle in certain environments. I often find it starts at the top and it’s a cultural thing and if the CEO doesn’t really get these things, then you’re going to have an eternal struggle. 

But if you’re in an environment where they maybe a bit more open-minded or they get it, then it’s easier. But I don’t know, what’s your perspective on it? You’ve obviously come from Google in the B2C world. And now you’re in ultimately I guess, a bit more of a performance driven world where I’m sure you’ve got objectives around lead gen and everything else. How do you balance the two and how do you think about the measurement frameworks around brand focused stuff?

How do you measure the emotional impact of B2B marketing? 

Ruslan (33:18):

I feel like the cool answer is to say how hard measurement and attribution is in marketing because everyone starts there and I agree. I mean, I always want more, but the reality is I do think that sometimes people overthink it. I think, especially at the size of a midsize company, the power of creating the funnel, I have the luxury of talking to my sales team and so we have a very robust funnel. 

We know exactly what happens from the visitors to the site when they turn into leads, when those turned into sales accepted leads, when those turns into sales qualified leads. And so we’re monitoring that funnel on a regular basis. Can it be better? Can we always optimize for which lead source is performing best and break down how many days and weeks it takes to convert? Of course, but this idea that it’s impossible or it’s so difficult, I think it’s very possible to measure. 

And I think on the brand side, frankly it’s actually in my mind almost easier to see leading indicators of success. So at the core, if we’re getting very tactical, if people are like, how do I measure brand? We’re always looking at any site analytics, right? Cause it’s like, if you’re putting stories out into the market, whether it’s press or comms or a big bold campaign on YouTube or TV or billboards are people actually saying, I want to engage with this company in some way, shape or form. And so they’re going to go to your site or they’re going to go to your social channels. 

So if you’re seeing traction in any organic metrics, you’re going to see that. And it’s very reliable data. It’s great data. And you’ll see that uptick as you launch brand campaigns, you will notice what’s gonna be causing the upticks. I come from the research world where if you want to really go into brand preference, unaided and aided brand recall, brand awareness, all of that is very measurable, right? 

So you work with a research partner, it does require a little bit of an investment. So the larger you are, the better the campaigns usually are around this. But you know, you can go out and say, if you’re in our space, you’re in the market for the HR tech vendor and talent. If you were going to make a purchase decision, who’s top of mind for you? Do we have unaided brand awareness, right? Is Gloat top of mind for people and you’ll go out to your exact target buyers and get that data back. And so there are ways to do it for sure. 

And yeah, I think it can be a very data-driven decision-making process. And then you track it down the funnel. And so I think the harder part is actually more on the lower funnel because people always want to get to like the predictability of how many days and how many weeks, what’s the reliability? And so I actually focus a lot more of that on the demand side and turning it into quality leads and seeing the pipeline generation. But I do think it’s very possible.

Alex (35:48):

Cool. Well, you’ve covered so much there and I think that’s a big dose of inspiration and some fresh thinking that I’m sure our listeners will really enjoy. So thank you. I felt like we need to get you involved in some other FINITE stuff we’ve got coming up and webinars and other stuff. I’m sure we can cover off so many other things, but I really appreciate you coming on the podcast and sharing everything that you have.

Ruslan (36:08):

Always happy to. Yeah, it was a pleasure and I love all the content you’re putting out. So I look forward to being in the loop and engaging further. Thanks for listening.

Alex (36:17):

Awesome. Thank you.

FINITE (36:20):

Thanks for listening. We’re super busy at FINITE building the best community possible for marketers working in the B2B technology sector to connect, share, learn, and grow. Along with our podcast, we host a monthly online events, run interview series, share curated content and have an active Slack community with members from London, New York, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Melbourne, and many more to strengthen your marketing knowledge and connect with ambitious B2B tech marketers across the globe. Head to and apply for a free membership.

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