Why B2B tech marketers should be scrappy with Adam Goyette, VP Marketing at Help Scout

A scrappy mindset in marketing is one that ditches strict internal processes to allow for rapid movement and growth.

Adam Goyette, VP Marketing a Help Scout, is a big advocate for scrappiness, as he thinks it encourages big ideas, creativity and a fast-paced mindset.

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Full Transcript

Alex (00:07):

Hello listeners and welcome back to the FINITE Podcast. Today’s episode is with Adam Goyette. Adam is the VP of Marketing at Help Scout- an all in one customer service SaaS solution. Adam’s approach to marketing is an interesting one and quite refreshing. And we’re talking about what it means to have a scrappy mindset, to be able to fail fast, to be able to experiment with new things, to be able to get things done with a certain degree of speed. 

And we’re going to talk about how that works in practice some of the upside, and also some of the potential risks or downsides of taking that approach and whether it’s a cultural thing or a mindset thing. But I think this will be a really inspiring listen for anyone looking to move things forward and be innovative in how they approach their marketing over the year ahead, so I hope you enjoy.

FINITE (00:53):

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

Alex (01:14):

Hey Adam, thanks for joining me today.

Adam (01:16):

Yeah. Thanks Alex, for having me on.

Alex (01:17):

Looking forward to talking. It’s a bit of a different episode in that we’re not talking about necessarily a channel or a marketing discipline as such, although maybe this is a bit of a discipline, but we’re talking about scrappiness as as a subject. 

I joked with you just before that I was looking up the definition of what scrappy actually meant, before we sit down to record, but we’ll come on to that. Before we dive into the topic itself, I will let you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background, current role and all of that good stuff. And then we’ll dive into the subject.

Adam (01:48):

Yeah, sure. So yeah, I run marketing at a company called Help Scout. So we do help desk software for small businesses. And I’ve been there for almost a year now. And prior to that, I worked at G2 where I ran global demand gen there. And so I’ve been in B2B SaaS for 10 plus years on the marketing side. And so I have lots of experience working at different high growth companies and stuff like that. So yeah, excited to be here with you today.

Alex (02:13):

Nice. And tell us a bit about, cause I guess this might help shape the conversation we’re about to have a little bit. Current role or team structure size, how marketing kind of works at Help Scout for you.

About Adam and his role at Help Scout

Adam (02:23):

Yeah. So I joined in April. We are in the process of scaling up marketing, I would say. So we are about nine people right now and by the end of the year, we’ll be closer to like 17, 18. So roughly doubling the size of the team. We’re really broken up into a couple of groups. 

One is the content and SEO team, growth marketing as the second bucket, product marketing. And then we have like ops and analytics as kind of the fourth one there. So that’s how we restructured the team. We’re hiring across the board so if anyone’s listening and wants to join us, feel free to hit me up.

Alex (02:56):

Nice. Any particular roles?

Adam (02:58):

Yeah. So we’re for a growth marketer, we’re hiring a product marketer. We are hiring like a campaigns, promotions person, a social media person. So a couple of different roles, content writers as well. So, across the board we’re hiring.

Alex (03:12):

Cool. That’s awesome. It’s good to hear there’s some good growth. And is that driven by… Just give everybody a sense of where Help Scout is in its journey of either raising money or overall size of business and that kind of thing.

Alex (03:24):

Yeah. So Help Scout’s about 115 employees, I think right now we have about over 11,000 customers already. And it’s been around for a little bit. I think this’ll be the 10th year Help Scout’s been around upcoming here. So a lot of the growth in the marketing side is really just as we’ve doubled down on some of our efforts last year, we started to see some really good growth, quarter over quarter and year over year. 

And so really I think just giving marketing the proper resources to fuel the growth. We are, I think about 60 ish, 70% of our revenue is actually self-serve. So the marketing channel plays a big role in direct revenue correlation. So I think it’s been an understaffed arm of the business the last few years. And so really just doubling down and making it more important.

How has remote work changed customer service? 

Alex (04:10):

Nice. And I’m sure all of the work you’ve been doing has been driving a lot of growth. I guess it’s interesting to hear before we dive into the rest of the topic the last year or so and everything that’s been happening in the world. Do you think that that’s driven more of a focus on customer experience? Generally customer support? Has remote work in all of those kinds of things sped up the need for that focus on customer service?

Adam (04:31):

Yeah, I think it’s definitely sped up the need for customer service. And I also think it sped up the need for efficiency and it kind of leads into the topic we’re talking about. Because what you saw last year was everyone had to cut budget in some way or another, right? Whether it’s because they expected the company to have some sort of a setback or they actually had a setback. 

And so you kind of realise how fluffy some things got, and tools, you’re like, do we really need that? And you started taking a hard look at all the different tools in the tool bag and roles you had on the team and stuff like that. And making decisions of where do you actually need to make investments and not make investments. 

And I think you saw that across the board. I think customer service is one of those areas where clearly having a tool in place and investing there is a smart decision and something that stayed. There weren’t a lot of people ripping that out as like, hey this is unnecessary tech spend or something like that.

Alex (05:30):

Yeah, it’s an interesting area isn’t it. I remember I did an episode of the podcast back in April, just when all of this was really kicking off, with April Dunford. Who you may have come across, she does a lot of positioning type stuff. And we did an episode based on positioning in a downturn and she really made me think about how pretty much every B2B proposition boils down to, we will either help you make money or we will help you save money. 

Eventually when you distill them down to their rawest form. And we focused a bit on, what are the first things to go? Is it like the low value, $10 a month type stuff that people don’t apparently don’t notice and are happy to just keep paying? Or is it actually the more expensive stuff that is built into the business and hard to let go of. 

And I think a lot of people think it’s driven by cost, but actually the cheaper things, I think she said were often the first ones to get switched off and the easiest to cut almost. Interesting to hear you’ve heard similar.

Adam (06:25):

Yeah, April’s awesome. I just spent pretty much like all of last week with her, so she’s doing a positioning exercise with us, and working through our messaging and positioning. So I am fresh off the April school of thought.

Alex (06:41):

Awesome. That’s good to hear. If there’s someone that’s going to help with that, I think she’s the person, so that’s cool. Let’s talk about this then as a subject: scrappiness as a competitive advantage. I think we have to start with the definition just to make sure we’re all on the same page and listeners understand what we’re talking about. I know that I said I’ve got some good old Oxford English dictionary definitions for me to refer to, but I know you said you’d looked into actual definitions too. What did you find and what does it mean to you? 

What does scrappiness mean in marketing? 

Adam (07:13):

Yeah, I think scrappiness really comes down to being determined and resourceful as a marketer. And those are the two things I think I want to think of, like how I define scrappiness, what I think of. And I know when we looked up the definition, there were some negative ones of almost untidy and just dishevelled, almost like this idea that like it’s a little bit like chaos. But to me, I think the big benefit of being scrappy is really being determined, resourceful. And that’s the way I at least view the word.

Alex (07:47):

Yeah. There was actually one definition I found that said especially British English. So maybe this is a British thing that says not tidy and often of poor quality, which I think is not what we’re talking about here. There was another one that I preferred, which was having an aggressive and determined spirit, which sounded maybe more appropriate in some respects. 

But I guess diving into it a bit more and just to set the scene a bit first, how long have you been thinking about this, reflecting on it? Because obviously Help Scout is not a 10 person business and you’re the first marketer. And equally G2, I’m sure when you were there it was pretty sizable business. 

So I wonder how much of this has to do with size. And at what point you noticed it? And I guess this feeds into the question of, is it a mindset, is it a cultural thing? Is it governed by size or is it just a mindset where you’re thinking in a certain way and behaving in a certain way?

Does scrappiness only work for smaller organisations? 

Adam (08:48):

That’s a great question. So size is all relative, right? We are a 115 person company that’s been around, has tons of customers. But there’s lots of bigger players in the space who have raised a lot more money that can easily outspend us in anything we’re doing. And so I think the advantage we have is being a little bit scrappier in terms of moving faster, being more resourceful. And our CEO likes to say out-creative the shit out of them. 

Just be smarter and more creative, and creative not necessarily from a brand perspective all the time, but creative in the way we approach things and the way we try to get things done and efficiency. And so I think scrappiness is where you can get more leverage. I think it definitely is a mindset. And we’ll talk about this a little bit. I know it’s one of the questions you had was like, at what point does it stop being scalable, right? 

Because you have big companies out there who just can’t be that scrappy. And they’re slower to move on things which gives smaller companies a bigger opportunity. They’re not slower to move because they’re bad, right? They’re not slower to move because they don’t have smart people working there. They’re slower to move because there’s so many more inputs and cause and effects. So if they go and change something, there’s a lot more to consider and a lot more to think about. 

It’s the same reason I could spin up a website today and launch an email campaign today because it would just be me doing it. If I was doing it for a side business, it would just be me doing it and I could do it in an hour. The impact of that is not really that important versus if you were at Salesforce, launching a new website and doing all these things, there’s a whole lot more considerations that go into it. But I think it does present an opportunity for smaller companies to be more nimble and get things done a lot quicker and test a lot quicker as well.

Alex (10:40):

And so if scrappiness is a mindset, first and foremost, is that something that you can rely on a degree of scrappiness almost constantly? Rather than there being cases where being scrappy is a good thing or allowed versus other situations in which you really shouldn’t be scrappy? 

You mentioned before this that you had a board meeting last week. I’m just thinking if approaching that with scrappiness potentially has some downsides. But again, I guess it kind of depends on the definition of scrappiness.

Opportunities to be scrappy in B2B marketing 

Adam (11:11):

Yeah. I don’t think it’s necessarily an all the time thing. I think it’s more so I correlate it a lot of times to speed. So how quickly can we get something done? So a good example is a homepage redesign. If you think about something like that, where it’s like, we want to redo the homepage of our website. 

A scrappier approach to that would just be like, let’s get a version. Let’s clone that page, get new messaging on, let’s test it by running paid ads. There’s a variation, right? Like we could do that today to start testing out the messaging and seeing what’s working or what’s not working, versus spending weeks debating it and having tons of meetings about it doing mock-ups this sort of stuff. 

Let’s just put something out there in the wild tomorrow and start driving paid traffic to it and seeing what converts and what doesn’t work. That’d be a scrappier approach to something. So that’s one example. But I think you can apply that to everything, right? Like the word meeting, obviously we want to be very thoughtful and specific about how we’re approaching things. And so I think that’s the case for really any business. 

But it’s more how do we create for, especially in newer channels, the opportunity to be scrappier? And so I think you can build that structure into your marketing team in just the way you approach things. And so if there’s newer things, always looking for what’s the MVP that we could get out the door. 

Like ABM is a great example. Everyone loves talking about ABM and everyone always goes to what technology do we need? If you boil it down, account-based marketing is really just about identifying a hundred accounts or whatever amount of accounts that you want to be customers. So you want to sell them and you want to take a very specific approach to those companies. You don’t need technology to do that. You don’t need an ABM software. You don’t need anything outside of just a creative approach. 

You can do direct mail, you can do all these sorts of things, ad targeting all through native platforms. You don’t need a big fancy system to over-engineer the entire process just to get started on that. And so I think that’s where a scrappy approach to test and then build out the process from there. Because too much time is spent over-engineering when you don’t really know if it is the right solution. 

So a great example of that would be, you talked about G2. When I was at G2, we had a sizeable marketing team. I think the marketing team at one point was like 50, 60 people. Our ABM approach, one of the ideas we had for a campaign was actually taking a review for a company and printing it and framing it as doing these nice typography posters. And we actually mail these framed prints to someone. Then sales will then follow up. 

Our first step was to get a designer, mock it up. And then we pulled up all the quotes and we had a hundred of them printed. We had them all sent to the offices at G2. We had ordered a hundred frames from Michael’s. We had them all sent to the office. And then we got the marketing team together one afternoon and for two and a half hours, we spent the afternoon just framing up pictures and writing handwritten notes. 

And then we sent them all out and then it was like, wow, we had a lot of success there. We had 25% of the people who got a frame booked the meeting and these are CMOs. And then it’s like, how do we actually make that into a scalable process? Because we want to do this every month now. 

And it doesn’t make sense to pull all of the marketing team and to do 200 of these every single month. And then you start exploring what tech we need, but we’ve proven out the process. And we were able to do it within a week or two’s time. Versus if we had spent a ton of time trying to find the right direct mail provider, all of these sorts of things, it would have taken way longer.

Alex (15:01):

I think that’s a great example. I know from being on the FINITE Slack community, we’ve got a constant stream of, can anyone recommend a tool for X discipline? And 90% of the time you could probably start with a Google sheet and some thinking. I think that’s a great example, particularly in the MarTech space. It’s just so common. I think I need to start a website, which is doineedmartech.com and you click a button and the answer is always no, it just says no.

Why you don’t need advanced MarTech when you’re scrappy

Adam (15:30):

It could be like, have you tried this already on your own? Is this the real problem you’re trying to solve? I don’t know if lazy is the right word, but I think people default to tech to solve the problems right before they’ve even addressed it and have tested. Is this something they actually need? If we had sent all those direct mail campaigns out and booked one meeting out of a hundred, it’s probably not a great campaign. 

Now we have a direct mail provider and we spent all this time doing all the logistics planning to make this a scalable process when it doesn’t need to be, because we’re actually probably not even to go forward with it anymore. And so I think what’s the MVP on a marketing launch on those types of campaigns? 

That whole idea that is in marketing people talk about doing stuff that’s not scalable. I agree with that to a certain extent, it’s like do stuff that’s not scalable and then try to scale it. It’s okay in the beginning to do those kinds of approaches, but then you have to figure out how to make it more of a process if it is truly successful. At G2 you’re supporting a 150 person sales org so I can’t have completely unscalable processes across the board.

Alex (16:41):

Yep, absolutely. I guess it’s a bit of a cliche in the startup scale-up world of this growth mindset, failing is a good thing. Do you think scrappiness makes it safer? And we can talk a bit more about culture more generally, but do you think it makes it safer to fail? Is it something that everybody has a scrappy mindset that they’re more willing to take risks in a good way?

Does scrappiness make it safer to fail? 

Adam (17:05):

Yeah. I do think it makes it safer to fail for a couple of reasons. One, I think when people get in that experimentation of, let’s just try this, let’s do this and let’s see if it works. You’re going into every one of those tests or experiments with like, let’s see if this works type mentality. And so that’s the initial question. It’s not like, we have to get something out of this or we need this. So if it didn’t work, it’s not a huge investment. 

Because I didn’t go out and buy technology for it. I’ve got $10 prints done and bought $20 frames. So, I spent three grand on a campaign to hit a hundred people. It wasn’t a crazy amount of money that we invested into this. And so I think the bet you’re making, because you don’t make a huge investment in technology, it’s a huge investment in time. 

It makes it a little bit safer to say this was not good, but let’s scrap it and move on. And you’re quicker to do that because you haven’t invested too much into that. So I think it definitely makes it a safer environment for people to want to test and experiment and try things and fail. And I think that’s also one of the big competitive advantages because B2B marketing for the most part is pretty boring and pretty awful to be honest. 

If you look across, pick anything like CRMs let’s say, and you go and you look at their websites and there’s 3000 of them that all say the same thing or some variation of the same thing. And they all have blue and they all have similar messaging and similar imagery. One of the tools I like to use is Moat and you can go and look at competitor’s advertising, and you see what a sea of sameness it is when you look at all their ads and what they’re putting out there. 

And so one of the big advantages of testing and being scrappy is you can find a unique angle that cuts through a lot of that noise, right? Like that direct mail campaign. It’s a small example, but it’s hard to ignore a 20 by 30 print showing up at your office. And then when you hang it up, it’s got the big G2 logo on it. So now you’re the CMO and you have that hanging in your office. Now, everyone who works for you is coming in and seeing the G2 logo and thinking like, this is something that’s important to you, right? 

And so there’s this effect where that cuts through the noise a lot differently than the same messaging everyone else has. And so I think that’s the other big advantage you get by being scrappy, is finding what those hooks are that set you apart.

Alex (19:35):

From a budget perspective, I know a few marketers I’ve had on the podcast talk about having a safe to fail budget or a percentage allocation. They’re really willing to just take risks on. Is that something that you approach in that way in a more formal way? This is here to spend on stuff that might not work.

Adam (19:52):

So about 20% of our budget goes to brand and I call it experimentations. So 80% of our budget is direct ROI stuff where we need a cost per trial out of that, or cost per lead out of it. And we’re looking at that and the other 20% we measure, but it’s not like we’re expecting that we need to be under $500 for any lead we drive or whatever. And it’s a free budget. 

So I think it allows us to say, what could we experiment with? What are some ideas? What are the things we want to test? What content campaigns that we want to put some spend behind and experiment with. So a good example right now is we launched a workshop. Patto on our team has been in customer service for years. We get thousands of customer service inquiries, and we see all the cues of all of our customers working with them so closely and understand all the tricks of building out a successful team and org.

 So we put together a workshop that basically walks you through, how do you scale out a successful customer service org. And so that’s a good example of something where it’s like, we’re going to experiment in terms of promoting that on different channels. We don’t really know. Would that ever translate into someone taking a trial? Maybe there is a trial offer on that, but that’s a good example of like something where it’s like, let’s experiment with some paid spend behind this type of channel and this type of content, more brand focused campaign.

Alex (21:19):

I was going to ask you next about the creative side of, does scrappiness unlock more creativity? I think we’ve covered it to some extent. The example of G2 is a great one in terms of, you’re saying the scrappiness allows you to take more risks and experiment with things that you can’t be sure work and therefore that provides a platform for more creativity. Is that a fair summary?

Does scrappiness unlock creativity? 

Adam (21:41):

I think that’s a fair summary because I think one of the muscles you start to build is when people think any of those types of ideas are good ideas, are things we could test and run with, they start coming to you with a lot more ideas. And so these weren’t my ideas on the marketing team. These were Gina Carlos who came up with the idea for the direct mail. We sent pinatas to people, we sent pennies to people. 

We did all these like random things to test and see, how do we cut through the noise a little bit. We’ve done lots of experimentation on ad campaigns. We did very professional photos, we had product screenshots and then the best campaign we actually ran was we took photos of people on the marketing team just sitting at their desk while they were working on our iPhones. 

And we used that as the imagery in our ad campaigns and it converted like 40% better just because it was a different type of image that most people weren’t used to seeing. And so I think those are some of the things that started getting everyone’s wheels turning of like, what if we did this? Or what if we tried this? 

Whereas normally I think people would think of those ideas and then just be like, we’ll probably never do something like that. And because we do it this way, you just don’t get people on the marketing team bringing you those ideas. And on the flip side, I think the other big benefit is marketers like being creative. 

And if you’re trying to scale a marketing team and have marketers want to work with you and have fun while they’re working and be successful and all these kinds of things, it goes a really long way to have that kind of environment on your marketing team. 

Nobody wants to go work with a marketing team where it’s like, here’s the playbook, just follow this. It’s more fun to test and experiment these kinds of things. And when I think back of the fun I’ve had in my career of working on different projects, there’s always the ones where it’s like, we’re going to test this really random thing and see if it works. 

And so I think that goes a long way too, for just employee morale and feeling like, we get to experiment and try a lot of new things here. And they feel a much bigger sense of ownership over what we’re putting out on the marketing side.

Alex (23:46):

We talked a lot about the positives, the upsides and the clear benefits. Are there risks? Are there downsides of a scrappy mindset?

The downsides to scrappy marketing 

Adam (23:54):

Yeah, I think the risk is if you just take that approach to everything and you don’t try scaling things up, cause you still need consistency. We talked about the budget right at 80% is like tried and true. I think you need that 80% to be dialed in. Like if you’re not even doing the basics, suddenly going to your sales team and being like, we’re going to do this crazy campaign where we’re going to send… They’re going to be like, that’s great. 

But what about the leads that we’re supposed to be getting today? What about, you guys haven’t sourced any pipeline, you guys aren’t doing the basic thing. So in a lot of ways you have to have the fundamentals down and built out to get that leeway, to be able to do those things. It’d be no different than if someone on the team wanted to try some new content writing style, but they’re not even doing their job today.

You’d be like, that’s great that you want to do this other campaign or you want to do this other project, but you have to do the job we hired you for. And so I view the same thing in marketing. You have to be doing the meat and potatoes, basic stuff of driving traffic, driving leads, driving trials, whatever it is, pipeline. 

You have to be doing those things and doing them well to get the leeway and buy-in from the rest of the company to want to try these other things. And so I think where it goes sideways is when people just come in with lots of ideas, but they don’t scale. And they don’t like to add in these basic things.

Alex (25:22):

Which we’re going to talk about next and I think we’ve kind of touched on this. You gave the example, the G2 example of taking something, trialling it with a hundred target accounts and then scaling it from there. Are there other examples of turning this into something more scalable? Building more process around this? Maybe tools that you’ve used to kind of turn something originally quite small and experimental into something a bit more process driven and a bit more scalable?

How to turn scrappy experiments into a scalable process

Adam (25:48):

So I think when you launch those types of campaigns, then you can start looking and saying, how do we actually put tech behind this potentially? Is there a need for something? Do we need to sign up for Sendoso if I stick with that example, to actually get a direct mail process built out. 

How do we make it so that the reps can now select accounts and submit them? So now we build out a workflow where they can add any of their contacts into the Salesforce campaign and we’re pulling that directly into Sendoso and they’re doing the prints, those kinds of things. Then it’s way more of a process built out. And I always think of, how would we scale this as the next step if we see success? I think that’s where you get into those conversations. 

I think if it’s just a one-off thing and you can’t scale it, maybe that’s fine for a learning you got out of it. But I think ultimately you need to move into scaling and if it’s successful, make it part of that main marketing mainstay. Like, now this is part of our marketing campaign that we’re actually doing at Help Scout. 

We did customer service awards for some of our customers that have had X amount of tickets resolved and response times and all these amazing stats. And so we did this campaign to celebrate our customers this past fall. We saw a lot of success with that. 

Customers loved that it was very much like a scrappy approach that we took to it. So this year we’re much more like let’s build a process around this. How do we get in front of this? How do we systematically approach these things? And I think shaping it for future use, so it can be an ongoing repeatable thing. Otherwise it creates a lot of overhead work for people.

Alex (27:28):

Yeah, absolutely. I think this leads nicely onto the point that you just mentioned around the wider team buy-in. I think it’s almost impossible for me to do a podcast episode without talking about marketing and sales working together and that kind of alignment piece, but obviously elsewhere within a business I’m always the more marketers I speak to, the more I’m of the view that this safe to fail scrappiness mindset really starts at the top. 

And I think luckily in like tech startups, and scale-ups generally they’re entrepreneurial and founded by people that I think more often than not adopt that mindset quite naturally. But is that something that you also believe in and how much do you think all the stuff that we’re talking about only really works if elsewhere in the C-suite, CEO, founder, they’re open to this approach culturally and as individuals themselves.

How can an organisation adopt a scrappy culture? 

Adam (28:22):

I think it definitely needs to be bought in, especially on the marketing leadership. Obviously if your marketing leader is not bought into this, just trying out new things and experimenting, why would you bring them ideas? You’d get it shut down and think I’m not doing that again. I think the same thing a little bit with founder, CEO, making sure they’re bought into testing out some of these things as well. 

So I think an easy way to do it is under the guise of testing and experimenting, that also makes it easier for them to be like, yeah go ahead and test that. And then if you have the results, be like here are the results we got out of it. Getting a CEO’s buy-in to test a lot of new channels from the marketing side, as long as they’re aligned to an end result, like here’s what we’re testing and here’s why they’re okay with that. 

I think where you get pushback is when you over-engineer it. And it’s like, we want to do ABM, we need $200,000 to go buy tech. That’s probably when you’re going to be like what? We’re not doing that. Figure out a different way to go about doing it.

Alex (29:22):

Even the budget point, the 20% or so that you don’t necessarily have to directly attribute back to something. I think I speak to plenty of marketers that it’s a dream for them to be in that position. They’re in much more old school organisations where the luckiest two and a half percent can go do things like that let alone 20%. So obviously you agree that upfront and it’s signed off at a board level and stuff. So they understand the value of experimentation and trying new things.

Adam (29:51):

Yeah, exactly. But even if let’s say you don’t have 20% of the budget. You can still do a lot of experimentation within the confines of whatever you’re doing. The good example would be like how we talk about like the imagery you’re using or copy you’re using. You can spin up all those kinds of tests today under the paid campaign budget. 

And let’s be honest, most CEOs, founders are not looking at the campaign by campaign level of what you’re actually running. So there’s a lot of experimentation testing you can do there and then bring the results to be like, we got these results because we were testing this thing. So I think you don’t necessarily need to even have the big budget to test out these kinds of things and experiment and try out a lot of this stuff.

Alex (30:38):

And on the technology side, a lot of the places we’ve covered have pointed back to you can do a lot and get a lot started. And beyond that, technology might play a role in supporting some of the scaling, supporting some of the process. It sounds like you’re an advocate for keeping the technology side of things pretty simple as long as possible and not going in on tech without needing to, is that fair? Are there any other tips that you’ve got around technology specifically when that comes into the equation?

Adam (31:06):

Yeah. So I actually really love technology, I love going and finding new tools.

Alex (31:12):

I think that’s the problem. Me too, I love fiddling with stuff, but that’s the danger almost.

Adam (31:17):

Yes, exactly. So I think like the problem most people run into is they always start with the best known tools. And so some of the stuff I like doing is on ProductCon you can find tons of amazing tools that are super low cost for you to use.

Alex (31:33):

Yep. I’m the same, I think once a week I just scroll through products and just find some pretty cool stuff.

Cheap MarTech for scrappy experiments  

Adam (31:38):

Yeah, exactly. So I just found a cool company and I’m talking to, Go Tolstoy and they do interactive videos where it’s like a choose your own adventure. And so if you think about, on the marketing side, you do prerecorded demos and you have them on the site. The problem is that’s a pretty crappy user experience because it’s like, I don’t want to sit through a prerecorded demo. 

I want my questions answered, my specific use case, or I just want to know about this one thing. And it creates this path where you can just choose your own adventure. And so that’s an example of something where it’s like scrappy can also involve tools, finding that tool. 

It’s like how many people are offering that experience on their website right now? Not that many, I don’t really run into many companies doing something like that or like, sign up for a demo, awesome, here’s a recorded demo to help choose. And our call we’re going to spend diving into the questions or for people you can’t get to schedule a demo, send them that. 

And so there’s lots of use cases within that. That tool does not cost a lot of money. They’re just getting started, they have 800 users, there’s a lot you can do with a tool like that before it becomes this giant $5,000 a month expense. And so I think even within the scrappiness, I think you can actually look to tools because there are tools that are just getting started and you can leverage those kinds of things and it will give you a big competitive advantage if you use it. 

So I think that’s also the big thing. And I think when people think of MarTech, they always think of super expensive tools that they need to go out and buy. And I think being scrappy in terms of finding these tools, there’s a whole other world as well.

Alex (33:15):

What was the name of that tool you mentioned? Was it Go Tolstoy? Okay, cool. Interesting name, but sounds good. I’m going to check that out. Are there any other favourites that you rely on? Like any other tools, technologies at the moment or more recently that kind of go to either staples or newer things you’re looking at?

Adam (33:32):

So one of the tools that I’ve leveraged in the past that I like, it’s not really unknown, but I don’t think a lot of marketers actually use it that much is Phantom Busters to find, basically going out and using a lot of different ways. One is, I gave the example of Dave Gerhardt, writes about copywriting. So he writes a post about copywriting and he has 10,000 likes. 

If you’re a copywriter, there’s 10,000 people who have expressed interest of like, copywriting an important thing. So if you were running a workshop and wanting to run an ad campaign, you can use Phantom Buster, go scrape all 10,000 of those people who like that. You have all their LinkedIn profiles now. You can then upload that back in LinkedIn as an ad campaign, that specific audience you want to go out and target with your copywriting workshop and do a paid campaign against them. 

So I think that’s another example of just being really scrappy and smart with how you’re targeting and how you’re actually using your spend. So if you think about the paid budget, we talked about before, if you’re a very traditional company where it’s like, we don’t have a lot of money for experimentation. 

I think you can get a Phantom Buster account for 70 bucks, you can get something like that. And then now you’re gonna have a very targeted list you can go after. And that’s just one example of how you can use the tool. But I think using tools can be a real advantage for you.

Alex (34:48):

Yeah, Phantom Buster’s pretty cool. I think I’ve used it for LinkedIn stuff before, but it’s basically like a data grueling, automated extraction type tool. That helps you lift information off pages and that’s awesome. I was going to wrap up by asking, were there any other tools just before we move on to kind of final questions, anything else that’s on your radar?

Adam (35:08):

Not top of mind. Those are the two I think I’ve been playing around with a lot lately.

Alex (35:12):

Cool. I guess, wrapping up I like to ask if there’s a big challenge that’s on your list right now. I know lots of marketers have been talking about webinar fatigue and a lot of quite COVID specific type things, but I guess as 2021 truly gets underway, what would you say is kind of the biggest challenge you’re working to solve at the moment?

The challenge of hiring a marketing team

Adam (35:34):

Biggest challenge I’m working to solve at the moment is hiring because I think as a marketing leader and hiring people, success of my team is going to be through the people I hire. And so making sure that we’re building out an amazing team and I’m setting all of them up for success is really the big thing I’m focused in on now. So I spent a lot of time interviewing, a lot of time proactively going out and reaching out to people. So that’s probably the number one priority I have.

Alex (36:03):

Cool. I know how much time that can take. It’s a pretty much a full-time job sometimes, especially when you’ve got that many roles you’re looking to fill. So a good problem to have, and I guess on a more positive note to wrap up, what are you most excited about looking forwards in the B2B marketing world?

The need for a formal marketing education 

Alex (36:19):

I think B2B marketing is super exciting, cause I think there’s a lot of interesting new channels opening up and new approaches. And so I think we’ve seen a lot of people shift their approach from this like spray and pray type model and even the content that’s getting produced. 

I think the amount of podcasts coming out now, I think it’s a really exciting time to be in B2B marketing because in the past, if you were a marketer and you were early in your career, you could only learn so much from whoever you worked for and you better pick the right company or the right boss to go work for. 

And now there’s so much information out there and all these Patreon groups and all these podcasts and all this content that is super valuable. You can get a degree in B2B marketing just by consuming content. And so in a lot of ways, it doesn’t really matter who you work for in terms of company, because you can go out and learn anything right now.

 And so I think that’s a really exciting opportunity for anyone in their career, because you can kind of get expertise level knowledge on any topic, if you just want to go out and consume the information around it. And so that’s why I’m super excited about the B2B marketing space right now.

Alex (37:29):

That was like the perfect advert you just gave us for the FINITE community that we’re building. So I’m going to jump on it and say, if you’re not yet a member head to finite.community. And I saw a lot of stuff on LinkedIn and Twitter the other day around the importance of a formal marketing education. And a lot of people saying that you really should study the foundations and the basics. 

We could probably record a whole other episode on it. I would say my view on it was that I think of all the like 40 something, 50 odd episodes we’ve recorded of this podcast, I think like two senior marketers have had a formal marketing education at degree level or something. 

Others obviously have done courses and certifications and stuff, but otherwise it’s pretty diverse. Like my favourite is someone that used to be a nuclear physicist, but is now working as a CMO. So it’s a pretty diverse background. I think the one thing that always jumps out is how many people have spent time in sales before going into marketing. 

I’d say that’s quite an interesting thread that I seem to spot. I think it gives people a very natural understanding of being customer focussed and understanding the sales org. Any parting thoughts? I didn’t ask you actually, but did you study marketing to a high level?

Adam (38:44):

No, I was a journalism major in college and then I had a couple of internships. I worked doing cold calling for a summer in sales and realised that I definitely did not want to do that. Selling production scanners to like CTOs and stuff was not fun. And then I entered a couple of marketing teams, but that I did not have a formal marketing education and the marketing classes I did take, I minored in advertising. 

There weren’t a lot of real-world applications to what you learn. And so to me, most of my learning for my marketing career happened on the job and just consuming and learning from people. So I would say in most of my time, if I hadn’t taken four years of college, I wouldn’t have been any better off or worse off in terms of my career. I didn’t learn a ton of stuff that really helped me, I enjoyed college, it was fun. I don’t think I needed it to be successful.

Alex (39:43):

Yeah. I think that’s pretty common. It’s been a great episode. I think we’ve got something here that has given me a bit of energy almost and inspired me to think outside the box as to how much you can actually get done, if you do have that kind of mindset. And I think for any marketer listening, that’s maybe why they don’t have much resource behind them and don’t have much of a budget and struggling to see a path forward. Hopefully I think you’ve given them some pretty good inspiration. So thank you for joining us and thank you for sharing everything.

Adam (40:10):

Yeah. Thank you Alex, I enjoyed it.

FINITE (40:13):

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 finite.community and apply for a free membership.

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