Think inside the box for B2B growth with Joe Davine, Head of Marketing at Globacap
As a B2B tech marketer, creative ideas are often necessary to attract customers and gain their attention to spark the start of their sales journey and bring awareness to a brand.
On this episode of the FINITE Podcast, Joe Davine explains how creativity is not best achieved with a blank canvas; it's best achieved by embracing restrictions.
Joe is Head of Marketing at Globacap and discussed how restrictions breed creativity in marketing, the science behind how creativity can thrive on limitations and the importance of humanising a B2B tech brand.
This episode covers:
- About Joe and his role at Globacap
- Marketing and sales alignment at Globacap
- The definition of creativity and restriction
- The benefit of having ‘restrictions’ in marketing
- The limitations of thinking without restrictions
- Humanising the B2B tech world
- The importance of personifying a brand
- MarTech tools that enable creativity
Listen to the full episode here:
And check out more of the FINITE B2B marketing podcast here!
Hello everyone, and welcome back to the FINITE Podcast, where today I have the pleasure of talking with Joe Davine, head of marketing at Globacap, a FinTech business. Joe has some great perspectives on how restrictions and processes can actually really drive forward creativity in marketing and that creativity isn't all about blue-sky thinking and blank canvases, but actually working within certain frameworks and restrictions and how that can force more creativity rather than less.
This was a really great conversation that I enjoyed a lot. Definitely got my brain cogs turning and it became almost philosophical at times. I know you all enjoy it as much as I did talking with Joe. Happy listening.
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Hello, Joe and welcome to the FINITE podcast.
Alex, thank you very much for having me on.
I'm looking forward to talking you're most welcome. We are talking about an interesting subject one that I don't think we've covered. We may have covered different kinds of realms on previous episodes, but we're talking about how restrictions of different kinds may actually help to breed and support creativity within marketing, which in a world of prioritisation and balancing quality and quantity and all the things we struggle with as marketers.
I think is very, very topical as we kick off the new year. So I'm looking forward to diving into that with you. First of all, I will, as we always do, let you introduce yourself, tell us a bit about what you're up to at the moment, some of your backgrounds and we'll go from there.
About Joe and his role at Globacap
So, my name is Joe, as you said, I currently work for a company called Globacap, but I've previously been in the kind of B2B startup scene specifically within tech for a very long time. I started out working for a small startup in Reading when I kind of moved there. That was nearly 10 years ago now. And, I've worked for multiple agencies.
And my last job before joining Globacap was actually at a kind of boutique VC firm where we would invest in startups and then grow them to a successful secondary round or exit depending on the strategy for that business. So I've spent five years there building out a team and really focusing in on their digital stuff. So yeah, predominantly in the B2B or tech space.
Cool. Very nice. And tell us a bit about the current role, a bit more detail and kind of team and what you focus on.
Sure. So Globacap's a really, really interesting business I joined because I like the idea. So it's essentially using blockchain technology to kind of solve a lot of the capital markets processes that have been. To be honest, left behind, we are using technology these days for all sorts of things, but for some reason, that area really wasn't that progress.
So we're solving like a ton of that stuff, using the blockchain, really trying to streamline that process for businesses for investors and also for intermediaries that work within that scene. And our aim is to kind of like move the whole market into a digitised asset or digitised securities world, which would be really, really cool because obviously with that, you get a ton of automation, a ton of new processes and it kind of a little bit on our topic from today.
It's like, once you remove some of that headache, then you can start thinking about all of the other things that you can do and be a bit more efficient with all of that. The team that I've currently got, we've got a small team of four, which we're kind of based it on the structure that I would normally do in startups, which is someone managing the content creation. So I'm managing distribution and automation around that like channels, et cetera.
And then we have someone managing our visual identity, so a designer, the next step for us is to then start looking at, event coordinators and stuff like that. And then it's just me who feeds into, a chief revenue officer called Sam who's awesome. I'm really, really enjoying working with him and I've learned a ton. So that's what I'm currently up To.
Very nice. I've been seeing a lot on Twitter recently about the power of having some in-house design scale, actually. I guess it's fairly unusual broadly. Like you don't often see in-house design, it depends a little bit on the business, but in the B2B tech world people wouldn't usually have a designer in-house, but it's something that you've prioritised obviously.
A hundred percent. Yeah. You're right. Like people, for some reason don't prioritise it, but I kind of feel like when you're creating a brand, it's not just about how you say things. It's also about the way you look when you say them. And those first impressions are super key. So for us, it makes complete sense if you are creating collateral or you're creating a new identity in general. You want someone in-house that owns that vision.
And my end goal for having someone in-house for that isn't necessarily that they'll be doing all of that design work. Instead, they probably look to being the editor or the creative director of that, where we may have other freelancers that are working on stuff, but it's their vision that's being, you know, it's their standards that are being kept. And I think that's really, really, really important for any business. That's trying to scale out their visual identity.
And there's a lot of debate around the chief revenue officer role. I'm only asking this because you're very positive about your experiences. Some people would say most of them are from a sales background, they don't get marketing. Marketing should have a role in the C-suite. Should have a seat at the table, those types of arguments. It sounds like it's going really well for you guys in that kind of setup.
Marketing and sales alignment at Globacap
Yeah, of course. I mean, I think this debate largely depends on the size of the business. Obviously, the larger you get, the more it becomes relevant that there should be a CMO that just sits in the C-suite alongside, and someone that sits within the revenue side.
In this example, with Globacap, Sam's got a massive extensive history of not necessarily fully being a marketer, but very much working closely with marketers in his past and really gets it. You know, he's the sort of person that if I say to him, oh, I've read this book about marketing in the past. I think that's a good shout. We should implement some of these ideas. He's the first person that will just read it.
So not only is he kind of versed in marketing and able to kind of give me some suggestions, but largely he's the sort of person that's willing to learn. And I think as long as you've got in smaller companies, a chief revenue officer that has that sales background massively but is willing to really learn from the marketing side and push that side and trust you. I don't see there being an issue that the smaller stage. So that's the setup that we have.
Yeah. My own thinking develops a lot on it. And especially through conversations like this. But how much of it do you think is to do with the sales motion and the kind of enterprise versus, because I think if you are selling, like if you're in like a product like growth, $10 a month, SaaS onboarding type environment, then maybe I tend to find that marketing sales being aligned into one role at least to the top works better when there's more of an enterprise longer complicated.
I value journey.
That's a fair point. You know, obviously we are a massive license fee type business with multiple upsell opportunities based on the business life cycle, you know, and we have a lifetime value that we set for specific customers that come through. You are right. Like I think because of that we needed a bit more of a sales lens. Whereas I think if you're doing small scale, self-serve, SaaS signup business stuff, 30 pounds a month and below, and that's not a sales cycle that you need to go through. That's a marketing cycle because you are drawing in customers to self-serve their own contracts and that's where you need that marketing engine.
Whereas if you're looking at these bigger, more complicated products that are gonna really change what the end customer's going to do with their processes, I think you have to have that sales expertise. Otherwise, you're going to really struggle to get any traction once they're actually through the doors. Because it doesn't matter how many people I send through the doors. If you don't have that expertise to close them, then not gonna work so I can completely see why we needed it anyway.
Let's dive into the subject. We're going to talk about which is how restrictions breed marketing creativity. I think it's an interesting one. That's maybe we're starting with almost kind of setting the scene, even definitions of what we mean by restrictions, but maybe just to begin with, you can set the scene on your view of marketing and creativity generally. Because I think we're at a time, particularly in B2B where marketing is inevitably a creative discipline but is often more of an analytical data-driven one these days. And those two can sometimes pull an opposite direction slightly, even though they shouldn't. I'll let you set the scene.
The definition of creativity and restrictions
I think first it's a good point around data. I think that's a good example of where creativity isn't necessarily the idea that freedom of expression exists. I think a lot of people look at creativity as, oh, I can use anything to express myself. And I actually kind of disagree with that.
For me, I kind of feel like it's the complete opposite where really it's the restrictions that cause you to be able to start thinking of creative ideas to solve them and things like data are a really good example here. You know, I have a lot of markets that I speak to that believe that data is kind of killed all forms of serendipity and the idea that you can create something great because everything's tailored and specific and focused on the audience that you are looking to target.
And for me, I actually think it's more creative to know exactly who you're talking to and to really refine a message and a workflow or a funnel around that specific audience than it is to go really general and just hope someone kind of resonates with your message. So for me, restrictions and processes and everything else, kind of limit your tools and really put you in a position where you have to think harder and smarter and more creative to make noise. So that's like my general thoughts around it.
Yeah. It's really interesting. I mean, it gets philosophical at some point, but I guess you're almost saying that instead of having a completely blank canvas, having a box drawn on that canvas and some parameters to work within and something to aim at actually forces you, like you have no choice, but to be more creative in order to work within that box.
Yeah. And you know, a good example of this is like music. This is something that I was speaking to my girlfriend about actually just randomly recently. And you know, there's only 12 notes total in all of music. And if you think about it, that's not really that many, yet there have been limitless amounts of songs that have come out of that structure. And I think that's kind of like when people look at creativity, they think, oh, well you can write and do whatever you want.
Or you can say whatever you want or do things in a completely free way to express yourself. But most of the creative disciplines that we have all have structure. It's just we forget about it. So for example, music's one where you've only got X amount of notes, but another one is like within writing, even when you're writing copy, you still have to follow the rules of punctuation. And that kind of gives you this way that you can play around with it, or you can be smarter with how your kind of approach something because the rules so well that you can use them in a way that really expresses what you want to say. So I kind of feel like we have it built-in, it's just people don't want to admit it.
Yeah. It's interesting. I wonder how many artists, music artists, or even artists working with paint or something, I guess there are rules around paint and there are different frameworks and methodologies and rule of thirds and there's all these kinds of things that we have.
As you say, we probably, some people naturally use them or discover them without even realising that they're there. But I think most music artists would probably be a bit annoyed if you told them that they were working within a very limited process-driven environment. They'd probably like to see themselves as completely free-thinking enigmas.
Yeah. Maybe. I mean, I'm a big music fan myself. I play music as well. And I think when you take a step back at all of these systems that society is built like the notes that we have that there is more than you can play, but it doesn't sound good. And that's kind of interesting to me is the idea that there are a lot of things and lots of spectrums that don't sound good and that just become the accepted truth that we play in this structure.
Or our sentences are crafted in this way and that's kind of through years and thousands or hundreds of years of human progression. We've kind of now formed this language with this structure in this way. And, me as a copywriter, I am allowed and able to change and build things around that structure to be more and more creative and express myself in a very specific way.
You know, when you read certain authors books, you can tell who's written it by their sentence structure alone a lot of the time. And that's kind of what turns into your style. And I feel like this is really applicable within the business world as well.
Yeah. Well, let's tie it back to marketing a bit more because you've talked about copy as one of the disciplines, as closest to the world of marketing, but, I mean maybe when you talk about restrictions, what do you mean in a marketing context is this, you've given some more creative examples, but you also talk it's about the process and it's kind of checklists and project management software. And when you know, when we look at it from through a marketing lens.
The benefit of having ‘restrictions’ in marketing
For sure. So years ago I was recommended a book by a kind of semi mentor at the time, Mark Lusmal, who is a very successful lawyer. And he was doing some angel investing and we met and he explained this book to me and I read it and it was called The E-Myth by Michael Gerber.
So I don't if you've read that book, but essentially the concept is that no matter who you are and how awesome you think you are at business, if you're not able to kind of get it out of your head and build it into a process that someone else can follow, then you're not really good at business. And I read that when I was 23 and I've really had that in the back of my mind, nearly throughout all of my career.
And I kind of feel like in business, you have to get things out of your mind, especially as marketers or senior marketers, you have to get things out of your mind, put them into a process that other people can follow in order for you to start building into a brand. And I'll give you some examples around that people look at things like, you know, design guidelines for brands.
And they say, oh, well, you know, you've got to do it with this font and you have to have it in this colour and you have to say it in this way. And there's this whole framework around building that. And, when we brought on, the designer that's come to work in-house for Globacap with us, she would say things like: "Oh, well, we create this?
Or can we do this?" And I'd end up having to say no. Because we've built this kind of set of rules for ourselves that we don't want to change because that's who we are as a brand. And I think that then kind of put a new perspective for her, where she was then having to work on different illustration styles or different things within that framework that we'd created.
And in my opinion, after seeing the work beforehand, where she had more creative freedom versus afterwards when she had more restrictions, the work was drastically better and that kind of stuff happens often within marketing, in particular being the kind of creative arm of the business.
Yeah. It's fascinating. And it's something I think a lot about across a lot of marketing and hopefully, this challenges people's thinking a bit because I think a lot of people will think of the creative aspects as just kind of completely blue, blue ocean thinking, playing whiteboards in a room together, just brainstorming, but actually some degree of structure.
I think brand guideline is a great example of being forced to work in a certain way, but that actually forces more creativity as a result rather than less.
Yeah. And I kind of feel like even it is very core business, you know, the goal is to drive revenue and to make profits, right. That's what business is for. So, you know, as a senior marketer, I have already got that constraint. Like that's the core constraint that we all live with. And, that constraint is where you can't just do random stuff. You have to do stuff that you think is going to drive revenue.
So you build all of these systems and you build all of this brand and you build everything to eventually earn revenue for the business. And I think even that in itself, you start to creatively think, okay, well then how do I change this piece to make it work towards those business goals of more revenue or more leads or more MQLs or whatever it might be. And that's just a totally different frame of thinking to let's just make something cool. So that's why I believe this is so important.
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Playing devil's advocate. Do you think there is a space for just completely like no limits thinking?
The limitations of thinking without restrictions
I think the no limits thinking stuff exists when people really know their identity so well that they think they're being free, but they just know it so well that they're able to almost just do anything with it.
Yeah. This is where it becomes philosophical. Because I guess it’s the conclusion that we're never actually completely free of any restrictions.
Yeah. I think so. You know, and people might call me pessimistic, but I act, I feel like it's more of a positive message is that once you know, it's the same with you as a human, if you want to sit down and write a piece of music, obviously aside from the fact that you have to have musical ability, you really have to know yourself to communicate what you want to communicate through song.
And I feel it's the exact same way with brands. It's like, you really have to understand its complete core in order for you to then articulate what you want to articulate as freely as possible. So I do personally think that no one has complete creative freedom.
I think I agree with you. I think we like to tell ourselves it's almost comforting to think that we do, but the reality is probably not the case, but you've come to terms with that and you are comfortable with that. I think as am I, but others may not be as much. I think in the B2B tech world, we think a lot about, well, B2B has always had a bit of a reputation maybe being behind our friends in B2C land in terms of creativity generally, but also this kind of humanisation of a brand.
I think B2B tech companies are good at talking about what they do and how they do it and the solutions and the services. But often that human element is nowhere to be seen or deeply tucked away. How do you think about this, but just creativity generally in terms of humanising the B2B tech world.
Humanising the B2B tech world
Yeah. I completely get the B2C world is seen as this more human approach, but I always find that really ironic because you know, in the B2C world, I very rarely buy any products from people. Whereas in the B2B world, all my products are bought through people. There's always a salesperson on the other end of the line. There's always a long interaction and with them and a big sales cycle, you may meet them in person.
You know, if you're doing like agency work and you're looking for third-party service providers, you go to their offices, they pitch to you. Well, you used to go to their offices, they pitch to you. There's a far more human element to B2B. Whereas B2C, like you, go on Amazon, you buy your goods, that's it, job done.
There is literally no person within that. So I always find that a little bit ironic because really as marketers, we should be embracing the idea that humans are driving B2B sales and especially in something like Globacap where it's quite a complex thing we're solving. We're trying to take on a whole into the street really. And for us, it's kind of, you have to create messaging that enables you to feel more human because I look at it like if you met someone in real life for the first time and you were cold and you were robotic and you were logical and you kind of just showed what the features of a product might be. People will switch off to humans that are like that.
And it's kind of our duty as marketers to make sure that the first interaction people have with brand is not only a strong one, but it's also a human one. And that then leads directly into passing that lead onto sales or whatever it might be. There's your process, knowing that you've kind of handled that in a human way and these people are engaged with what you're saying and what you're doing. I think there's not enough focus on trying to drive humanity in B2B brands, especially in the tech world and finance world.
Yeah, I think we think about it all wrong often and actually, Roy Sutherland, VC of Oglivy, who we've had on the podcast and speaking FINITE Fest conference last year. I'll do a terrible job at paraphrasing, but I'll give it a go anyway.
But he kind of broadly talks about how in B2B, there's actually so much more emotion on the line because of the size of the decision-making unit as we like to call it and how many more people are involved. And if you to use your example, buy something off Amazon that you end up being quite embarrassed about, or you don't like, then that's that. The embarrassment is an individual personal margin.
Whereas if you mess up a, you know, spending 200 grand on something, you are going into board meetings, every one’s around you. Like you're there's a public embarrassment. That's much more emotional. There's a lot more on the line. It feels like in a B2B purchase decision than a consumer one. And therefore we should be thinking about it the other way around.
A hundred percent, I mean, you've summed that up very well. Like, I completely agree, like there's so much emotion in driving these big systems. And I think it's been quite hard. When you look at my career, it's been quite hard to kind of convey that to my bosses or CD management at the time. Whatever it might be, it's not just about a feature that you offer, those first interactions you have with decision-makers that you are targeting.
They're not always that fuss about what you are trying to solve and how that helps them. A lot of the time, they're just saying, are you annoying? Are you an annoying brand? Are you going to spam me? Are you going to give me something of no value? What's the action here?
Whereas I feel like if you look at the human element, it's important to think about if you shook that person's hand and you met them and you immediately started going into your sales pitch and you immediately started going into your marketing spiel, how would that feel? And I'd think people don't ask themselves that question enough.
And once you've kind of got into the flow of being more human, about the way that you write or the way that you portray or your messaging or anything like that, I think the results speak for themselves when people come through the doors and they feel warmer and they're, they're ready to kind of buy, and they're not as robotic, it's much more fluid and organic process when you do that.
Definitely. What about the world of social? Because I think this kind of voice often comes out in the world of social media where I think often a lot of B2B tech brands really struggle with organic social.
They don't really see any return from it. They don't feel like anybody's really there or listening to them. And sometimes question kind of, what's the point of having a Twitter account and all those kinda things. What's your view on that for a brand, such as your own.
The importance of personifying a brand
I mean, this one's, relatively nuanced, but my phrase has always been, and I used to say this when I was working in the agency world and we'd get B2B clients come through, my line was always, would you take your brand out for a coffee? And obviously there's quite a lot of stuff that's packed into that statement. But I think the idea being is your brand personified and well crafted enough that people like them like it and would like to go out and spend more time with it. If the answer is no, then you need to properly stay away from social media until you've sorted that out.
I think the most problems with B2B marketing and tech marketing in general in this vein is based around the fact that they haven't solved that underlying humanity and created a personification of the brand that people want to interact with.
And with many people are afraid of sharing opinions. Many people are afraid of upsetting people, many people are afraid of getting too much hate. And I think that's a little bit dangerous because as humans, we have opinions as humans, we kind of sit, we don't just sit on the fence. We have a specific direction that we lean towards.
And as humans, we are innately creative and want to consume. So all of those things should be a part of your social media. And if they're not, then you are drastically missing a trick. It's not just a sales channel. It's a way to communicate who you are as a personified business.
Technology is hard to avoid for any marketer these days, I guess, within the context of this conversation, I'm thinking, do you see the MarTech world and all the different tools out there as aiding that level of restriction process discipline, or is it potentially more of a distraction as it sometimes can be? How do you see the role of kind of all the different MarTech tools we can play with as a kind of enabling that creativity?
MarTech tools that enable creativity
Yeah, I think enablement's the word there. You know, I have a network of friends who work in different kinds of disciplines within digital. One of which is, a friend of mine, James Clifton, who is a fantastic creative director. And he keeps me on top of all of the different technology tools that he's using in his stack. And then that feeds into the processes that we're building.
But in terms of marketing technology, I think to be honest with you, my favourite over the last few years has been Zapier. I don’t know if you've used this tool before, but it's essentially for anyone that doesn't know, it's kind of the, “if this, then that of businesses” and what I love about this tool is that it enables you to connect the dots between like anything that you want to try so that when you kind of go to create something quickly or do an MVP test of something that you want to push out to market fast and just get quick results.
You're able to do that without having to require any other departments or outsourcing development or anything like that. For me, this gives you the data that you need to then, you know, quickly make a decision on what the direction of your campaign might be going forward, which kind of goes into our idea of restricting what you can do for creativity. But yeah, a hundred percent Zapier is my favourite tool of the last few years, for sure.
Nice. Yeah. It's a great tool for stitching things together in a kind of easy cost-effective way. So, yeah. Good. I guess you've talked about, your favourite kind of MarTech tool. I guess final few quick-fire questions for you, would you say you've got the biggest challenge right now?
The biggest challenge in the B2B world
Well, the biggest challenge. I mean, I can be the obvious person and say the COVID stuff and how there's been a lack of like in real life events and networking and stuff like that has had an impact. But I would argue that that kind of also really changed the game as well.
If we're talking about restrictions and how restrictions on your creative processes create better results. I think I've looked around and I've seen so much better-written content, video content, webinars that side of the world has really, really been challenged. And now that there's some really great stuff, like the kind of coming to market.
So although that was a challenge, I think we're starting to come through that. I think to be honest with you next year or, or this year, sorry, challenge wise, it's kind of the pace of blockchain and how quickly things are moving and making sure that we as a business can stay ahead of everything that is starting to come out.
Yeah. And ending on a high looking forwards. What are you most excited about In the world of B2B?
What Joe looks forward to in the B2B world
I think getting back out there, I'm super excited about some more of these events and everything that's coming into play. And also to be honest with you, like I'm a huge, huge fan of CRMs. And, we are just integrating our latest version of our CRM and the marketing automation behind it all. So I'm going to be nerding out for the next two months, building out lead scoring and trying to create tons of automation.
I’m just constantly stressed about it.
Oh no, I love that stuff. Like any, anything data automation. You sign me up, it's my favourite part.
Nice. Well, we're pretty much out of time. So I'm going to wrap up there and just say a big, thank you for sharing. Everything's definitely got my philosophical cogs turning and I think it challenges some thinking in the B2B marketing world. So thank you for sharing everything.
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