The Get the Message Podcast
Feb. 7, 2023

Speaking the Right B2B Language with Mark Evans

Speaking the Right B2B Language with Mark Evans

Even if you're a B2B company, you still have to communicate with a human prospect or customer. Mark Evans knows this, so getting to know that person is at the center of his approach to helping B2B SaaS companies thrive today. Today, we'll discuss how...

Even if you're a B2B company, you still have to communicate with a human prospect or customer. Mark Evans knows this, so getting to know that person is at the center of his approach to helping B2B SaaS companies thrive today. Today, we'll discuss how personalization, positioning, learning and communicating can benefit your business today.​


Mark's business - Marketing Spark
Mark's podcast - The Marketing Spark Podcast
Mark's book on Amazon - Marketing Spark
Mark on LinkedIn


Scott: Welcome to today's episode of Get the Message. When it comes to two of the most popular and most common forms of entertainment, I was a late adopter. Specifically digital music and DVR. When iPods and digital music were really taking off and people around me were indulging in it all. I continued to use CD's. Why? I don't know. I guess I didn't feel like I had to change right then.


I didn't want to take time to learn a new way to do things. And part of me felt like it was a fad. Not so much that it wouldn't last. It's just part of me felt like it was a fad that wouldn't change enough for me. Despite what companies like Apple and others were saying, yet at the same time, I hated organizing CD's. I hated buying CD's and only liking some of the songs on an album. And I was an avid music listener. Now, on the DVR front, I just didn't rush out to get one.


Why? Well, for one, I didn't watch a lot of TV. I kind of had lost a lot of faith in television, and this was before streaming services or what they are now. I just wasn't watching a lot of TV, so I thought I wouldn't really use it. Yet when I finally got one, not only did I use it, I ended up finding more stuff to watch and therefore more stuff to record. So despite the fact I still have a tendency to say the DVR tapes, things are evolved with the times.


Now, if these digital entertainment trends were starting today, I'm sure I would find a lot of blog content from Apple, Zune, TiVo, some of those early companies. You know, MP three companies would be writing these blogs apps, maybe would be writing them, telling me why I should change. Listen to MP threes and record TV programs digitally. A lot of these blogs would probably say a lot of the same things in the same way they would talk about the features and why I want them, you know, skipping commercials and easily buying and downloading music and more.


But I just said it wasn't enough for me back then. So if I was online and I saw yet another company telling me about the benefits of MP three players and digital downloads, I would ignore it. But what if the blogs put things in another context? What if they went with an approach of getting inside my head and emotions and discuss things that might impact me personally, if not challenge me personally and cause me to reflect, You know, something that talked about paying for songs I didn't want, or all those piles of CD's to organize or or the potential to discover new music or television shows in the B2B space.


I see this type of thing happening, especially in software as a service mass tech based solutions that get into what I call the obvious marketing trap. They have a solution. They decide they're going to write blogs. They discuss what should be on those blogs and they produce the content. And it's often very product and feature focused with messaging on why you need it. If you have any competition in your space that also blogs, they're probably producing the same content.


And just like me not needing to hear about the features of DVRs and MP three players anymore. The audience doesn't need another blog about a common solution or feature in that space. For example, let's say your B2B company provides contact centers with a modern optimization solution to help drive better call results. Speech analytics is a big part of that solution. So companies write blogs about it. If a contact center manager searches some common speech analytics topics on Google, here are some of the blog topics.


They're going to see how speech analytics can benefit Call Centers. Benefits of Speech Analytics for Customer Support. Call Centers. The Benefits of Speech Analytics for Call Centers. Ten Unique Benefits of Speech Analytics in a Call Center. Six. Benefits of Speech Analytics for Contact Centers. Eight Impressive Benefits of Speech Analytics. Top eight Benefits of using speech Analytics for your business and the value of call Center Speech Analytics. If you're in this space and planning on launching a blog, are writing new blogs in 2023, do you think you need to write one on the benefits of speech analytics? It's very much like me and mp3 players.


I already knew what the product did. I already knew why people liked it, but I didn't change in telling me the same things over and over again. Wasn't going to move me in any way. This is the same concept. Speech analytics has been around long enough where companies probably know something about it or the people that you have to get in front of know something about it, and it's not going to be enough to move them just to tell them there are benefits to getting it. So what can you do? Well, if the same old content generates an automatic ignore response from your audience, part of the problem is a lack of meaningful emotional response.


Nancy Harhut talks about this in her book Using Behavioral Science and Marketing. In it, she explains why talking about features isn't enough. She says, Early in my career, when I was working on brands like IBM and Dell, I read a study that reported that even if a high technology executive believed a marketers product would be good for their company, they would not advocate for it if it seemed like it would be too hard to get the necessary buy in to implement the solution. She says people are people, whether they are at home or at the office, and people have emotions.


They care about things like how they'll look to their boss or the board or their peers, and they care about whether a product or service will help them finish work on time or keep them stuck at their desk. They also have professional reputations to worry about, egos that need to be fed and a certain amount of self-interest that routinely creeps in. She goes on to say, All of these human factors get in the way of your business. Target making a completely objective, unbiased decision guided solely by what is best for the company.


Do not make the mistake of assuming your target is somehow different. Your B-to-B targets won't respond to your marketing messages based only on price and features. They won't automatically choose you simply because. As you provide the best product or service to address their situation, even if their own research points to you as the best solution, even if they are educated professionals, there will be other influences at play in their decision making process. Influences they may very well be unaware of. She also shares a case study about a time when she was working at an agency and they had to develop a campaign for a high tech B2B company and they developed a problem solution approach to the campaign.


A butterfly effect approach where one small change can have large impacts on the organization and a campaign infused with serious end user emotion. And that was approach that definitely created a unique way to write content, she said. With headlines like the delete button for that voice in your head, the emotion in this campaign connected with the prospect. The prospects could see themselves in the ads. They felt that the marketer understood them and was talking directly to them.

And that's kind of what I was talking about when I said it wasn't enough to tell me, Hey, you can easily download music or it's all digital or things like that. But if they were saying things like, Aren't you tired of paying for CD's and only liking three of the songs and aren't you tired of the stacks of CD's you have and you have to find new places to put them in your entertainment centers or organizers. You know something that puts it in the context of what I'm going through or what I'm probably doing in my daily routine. But you can't do any of this if you don't know the customer or you don't know the person on the other side of the communication process. My guest today emphasizes that and his advice to be to be companies.


And he's here today to put his perspective on speaking the right language to your B2B customers.




Scott: Hello and thanks for joining me today on Get the Message. Our guest today is Mark Evans. He is the author of the book Marketing Spark How Entrepreneurs Can Ignite Their Marketing and Embrace the Power of Brand Storytelling. Marketing Spark is also the name of his company, which is specifically designed to help B-to-B sass companies. He works as a fractional CMO strategic advisor and brand strategist who helps those companies build better marketing engines. And his focus is on attracting and engaging better prospects and developing positioning, messaging and key marketing assets.


Scott: You'll also hear him talking with other professionals on his podcast called you guessed it Marketing Spark. So he's very easy to find. And today he's on this podcast to share some insights on better connecting with the B2B customer. Hi, Mark. Thanks for joining me today.


Mark: Well, thanks for the invitation. I'm always happy to talk about B2B marketing.


Scott: As we really focus on humanized two way conversations today and the importance of that. I like the fact that we can put that in a B2B context today. And I know one of the things that you've said, like many other people have talked about regarding importance today, is getting a chance to understand your customers and discovering things about them. And one of the things that I really liked that you said as you talked about how you need to discover how they did their jobs before they were using the product that you're offering as part of your marketing.


Scott: Get inside their minds, kind of understand their struggles and how their lives can be better now. Does that also include the idea if a customer might be happy with the way things are? I've seen that talked about a lot too, where you have to sometimes depending on really what that customer situation is. If you come in and say, Hey, here's a better way to do this or a quicker way to do this, you might get an interpretation that triggers a response of, Well, thanks, but I like the way I'm doing things.


Mark: That's a loaded question. There's a lot of angles, places we could go there. But let's take a step back in terms of marketers and customer insight, customer intelligence. My thesis is that a lot of marketers talk the talk when it comes to knowing their customers inside out, and that's marketing one on one. You have to know your customers. You have to know how they think and feel and as you say, do their jobs. The problem is, is that not a lot of marketers actually do it. It's educated guesses or they talk to a small sample size once in a while or they go to a conference and that's what they call customer interaction.


Mark: And so one of the problems is that customers don't have that in-depth insight that they need. So that's sort of laid things on the line. In terms of the problems of the challenges a lot of a lot of marketers face as marketers and as companies are very focused on product, you know, benefits, features, how wonderful it is, how it's better than the competition, why it's a no brainer in terms of why you should purchase it. But we forget the fact that. People already have tools. They already have software.


Mark: They already have ways that they do their jobs every single day. And for the most part, they're pretty happy. There's no reason for them to change because change is hard. Yeah. So as marketers, our jobs are to be empathetic in terms of how someone works and what their day to day is like and some of the things that they struggle with and some of the ways that we could make their lives easier and make them more successful because everybody wants to look good. Everyone wants to get a promotion, get a raise, or these days just simply keep their job.


Mark: And yeah, we have to position ourselves as a not only a better approach, but we have to maybe build a little bit of fear of missing out. If you don't use our product, these are all the things that you're going to miss, miss out on. You're going to all the other companies that are using our tool and be successful. You're not going to be like them. And so you want to be you want to in some ways introduce that feeling of doubt or uncertainty. Am I actually using the right tool? You know, should I be satisfied with the tool I've got right now? And that sometimes takes time to bake in.


Mark: But that's one of the key things you need to do is actually get people to consider changing, because that's the first step is explore the change. And then you have to convince and actually make the change.


Scott: One of the things I've seen you talk about, many others talk about, and I'm really happy to see really kind of increasing as we start talking about better ways to connect is the idea that, you know, now really isn't the time to be thinking about quantity and content. It really is about quality. And that means you can do less and not have to do as much. And what I what I think about, too, on top of that, when we're talking about explaining, you know, fear of missing out and other elements of a product or service or at least the way that you can help people.


Scott: You know, I've worked for and worked with B2B companies, B2B SaaS companies. And when it comes to content, I mean, they all definitely fit into sometimes that tendency to do a lot of content, but from one company to the other, it's usually the same. And they're usually, for example, blogs that are talking about those special features. But everybody talks about it the same way. You know, all the blogs are being talked about the same way. And I think in some cases it's even harder to maybe even make a decision if you're on the prospect side of things, maybe wondering if you should make a change.


Scott: But everybody is making the same case about the same element to a solution, because especially in the technology space, there's a lot of overlap. And in the advantages of putting a new technology into a business. So they're all talking about that advantage the exact same way. But I think if you are focused more on not having to do too much and you can focus more on scaling back a little bit, you might be able to spend more time on finding better ways to communicate why someone needs to be interested in your business. And maybe that's how the conversation and the relationship can start, because from the get go, you're you're not talking about it the way everybody else does, especially if you're competing with companies that aren't doing some of the things we're talking about when it comes to that two way communication approach.


Mark: You make a really good point, because I think as content marketing became the way that B2B B2B SAAS companies would attract and engage prospects, we fell into the quantity trap. We thought that if we produced more, that eventually it would convince someone to have a conversation with us, ask for a demo, do a download, and forgot about the fact that our jobs as marketers are to educate, enlighten, motivate, entertain prospects and position ourselves as a trusted go to resource someone who they can look at and go, That's a really smart company.


Mark: They're telling me things that I need to know or I didn't know. They're not talking about their product. A great example I would say is HubSpot. Maybe not now, because I think their content is not is not as good, but they position themselves as this amazing resource you, regardless of whether you ever became a HubSpot customer. Yeah, they wanted to produce really great content and the benefit of that is that you connect with the people that matter to you, the people, the prospects that you want to attract, but you also build relationships with people who could become referrals because the brand gets, you know, into the into the marketplace as being this great resource.


Mark: And I think that, you know, B2B companies need to think of themselves as educators and present themselves as companies that are going to help you be more successful. They're going to help you do your jobs more efficiently and back off a product and features because I say this somewhat tongue in cheek is that is that customers don't care about your technology, They don't care about your product. What they care about is what's in it for them. They're very selfish. In time, they can learn about your integrations and your APIs and all the great.


Mark: Features that you have from the get go. It's more like, Do I like this company? Do I trust this company? Does this product sound like it solves the problems that I have? And then you can go from there.


Scott: The other thing that I think about when it comes to HubSpot is, you know, just the power of word of mouth because you're a resource and everybody talking about you because then I can tell you, you know, especially in those early days, like you mentioned, how many times, you know, I would read something or I would hear somebody say, according to HubSpot, you know, and they would it would usually be something insightful regarding marketing. I remember working with a company in the real estate space that was doing some technology to help realtors, and as I was working with them to find resources.


Scott: One of the key places I was finding a resource was rocket mortgage. Granted, you know, they have something to sell, but they just had all of this insightful content about things that homeowners and people dealing with home issues would want to know. And it was good stuff. It wasn't you know, it didn't feel like a trap. Like, you know, it's going to provide you something and then it's a sales pitch. It was really good information. A lot of times it involved research and that's a big thing now with blogs. From a differentiation standpoint, is new research something I haven't seen anywhere else? And I think that can be really, really powerful today.


Scott: If you can figure out a way, you know, can you imagine if you could position yourself in a way where people are doing that with you and that same type of thinking with they're saying, well, according to this company, I read this or someone finds this insightful on on your blog and they put it in their blog. But you really have to start thinking in terms of, you know, that value and leading with that first. And I was wondering on top of everything else as far as these things that can kind of get in the way of evolving, I know one of the things that you've really worked to convince people to think about is their positioning statement and evolving that positioning statement with the times, because things can change everywhere else.


Scott: And if you're not aware of how you might have to evolve that statement, I would assume, too, that that's going to affect everything when it comes to your content, when it comes to the conversations are having or really any kind of communication. If you haven't really been able to evolve something that maybe needs to change a little bit in the last just few years, even sometimes.


Mark: Well, I'm very happy that you raised the topic of positioning because it's something that I lean into heavily. I'm an advocate of positioning, and when I start with my clients, I always start with for it, regardless of whether they think they have good positioning. Fundamentally positioning underpins your marketing, your sales, your capital, raising everything that you do because it identifies four key pillars. One is what do you do? Who do you serve? Why What you do matters to the people that you serve, the value that you deliver, and how are you different, unique or better? If you can clearly articulate those four pillars and then you can get everybody within the organization to not only rally around them, but pollinate them, promote them.


Mark: This is the gospel. Then you come to the market with a very differentiated and consistent message. And in ultra competitive marketplaces, it's easy to get lost in the crowd because everybody looks the same, the technology works the same. So how do you stand out? And it doesn't have to be a major difference. It can be something that you do better than anybody else. It could be the fact that you did upgrade your product every two weeks or that you have amazing customer service. But there's got to be something that you can say work different from all the other players out there.


Mark: And if you can find that and you can start to pollinate that, it's a very powerful place to drive forward in terms of your business. But I think a lot of companies look at positioning and they see a nice to have as opposed to a must have. And I would argue that in tougher economic conditions in which we're going through right now is that, you know, demand is softer and we're not riding the wave like we did over the last couple of years. So positioning and differentiation matter more than ever because there's so much competition and and softer demand.


Scott: I mean, when you look at some of the positioning statements that you've seen or that perhaps you've helped companies improve of those pillars, would you say that there's like a top one or two? I mean, do you see one probably kind of missing the mark more than maybe some of those other elements of the positioning statement, at least in the last couple of years?


Mark: I think the biggest mistake that a lot of companies make with position is they lean into features. You know, we're the fastest, we're the most innovative, you know, we're the biggest. And everybody can say that that's fairly generic vanilla, like positioning, because the problem is, is that it goes back to the fascination with product. You b b B, SaaS companies love their product. That's what they have. These giant software development teams is to expand the product and add more features, and that's a huge expense for them.


Mark: But it tends to distract them from the fact that customers need a reason to. Believe, and they need a reason to think that you're a better option than everybody else out there. I think that, you know, if you don't if you don't establish itself as we're different in some way, that then you're the same as everybody else. And that's a terrible place to be.


Scott: Do you think that one of the ways you can kind of break out of that, if you're not saying, you know, like like you're absolutely right about faster since biggest And you know, it's always so interesting because you don't really hear a whole lot of people that make purchasing decisions because they're the fastest, they're the biggest. And you can still be the fastest and big as and be not really good at at what you're offering. People are have a lot of flaws in it or you know, any number of other things. Do you think transparency is something that really can help drive more detail in that differentiation? If you're not using the generic terms, like maybe, you know, maybe your competition's afraid to talk about cost or what it takes to, you know, implement something or how it compares to other products or services in the in the space or, you know, what makes it unique or how or maybe how your company approaches the solution and why you know, where your company can really take a stand on why it's developing the product and why you designed it the way you did.


Scott: And maybe that fits into why it costs what it does. Do you think transparency is something that can be very powerful in that area of not only serving the customer and what they're looking for, but it gives you a really a much stronger alternative than generic and actually helps you provide some details people might be really interested in.


Mark: I think you can equate transparency to authenticity. The fact that you're you're you're sort of open your kimono and you're sort of telling prospects how you operate, how you think, what your values are. Those are all important. One of the things to think about with positioning is there's obviously multiple inputs. You've got the competitors and what they stand for and how they position themselves. There's internal biases about this is the way that we operate and this is the way that we see our strengths and how we're different.


Mark: But ultimately, I think the best insight comes to your customers and their perception of how they see you as different, better or unique. Because one of the the problems with, you know, working on something 24 seven is that you have a very harsh sort of hard coded view of the world. This is who we are. This is why we matter our different. And that may be completely different from the outside looking in. So when you talk to customers, you ask them the normal questions about the strengths of the products and the weaknesses and how it can be improved.


Mark: But you also ask them. So in your mind, how is this product different? Because you know that they've looked at other options or they're looking at other options. And if you set up the right environment where they feel comfortable, they can be candid, they can tell you what they really think, they will tell you what you really need to know about all the important things, including how they see that you're different and in a lot of position engagements. You know, I have a thesis that the company will tell me, and then I tested against the customers and sometimes it mirrors that then.


Mark: And oftentimes they tell you things like, Wow, I didn't even know that. And then you start to build the threads and talk to your customers and sometimes you get positioned. And that is completely different from what a company thought. And that's a challenge to accept because it's a different view of the world and they don't think of themselves that way. But it's the truth in many cases, because it's your customers telling you what they think.


Scott: Yeah, and I would think too, that this this fits into, you know, the importance of talking to other people in the organization, obviously, depending on how big the organization is. I've seen environments where marketing is working on all this promotional messaging and it's not resonating. And then he talked to sales and they know they're like, well, part of it's because when we talk to people, they're not interested in this. They just want to know is how much is this going to cost, what can I get? And things and things like that. And then if those two are talking to each other, then maybe marketing can start to infuse some of that into what they're what they're sharing with the public.


Scott: You know, and obviously when we talk about humanise communication and connecting with people, we hear the term personalization a lot. And you recently had a conversation on your podcast about how that applies to chat bot and chat bot AI and how you can mix in elements of personalization and how that's evolving over time. A lot of times, you know, even on this show we've talked about personalization on, on so many other areas, but the chat bot thing is very interesting and I bet people have wondered about that, especially when we consider things like, you know, consumers always aware and see it all the time.


Scott: They can usually tell when to most of the time when they're robots talking to them. But then how can we evolve this where it's a little more humanized? What are some of the things you've learned on on that side of communication that that you can share?


Mark: Well, I think. Given the buzz about Chad Djibouti, people have recognized the power of AI and how amazing it is and its potential. On the flip side, how scary it can be, too. Yeah, the ability for something like Chad Djibouti to go into the into the data archives and amalgamate, you know, things that are seem seem right but sometimes they're wrong is is unbelievable. And it's the ability of of of AI to learn as you go and to.


Mark: Over time they they build up these this whole these whole themes or these whole databases where they know how to communicate communicate to you. But you are part of a bigger group. There's a lot of us in one group, you know what I mean? Yeah. So I think that increasingly A.I. is going to make personalization increasingly powerful and relevant. And when you're talking to a chat bot, it's almost like they know who you are. Well, they do know who you are in many respects, but it's like they're having a one on one conversation with you.


Mark: And I think, like, I continue to be blown away by I mean, even like three years ago I was working for an a company that that served grocery retailers in terms of around pricing. And at the time, it seemed super cool. Oh, my God, this is really amazing. Now, that stuff looks antiquated in comparison, although it's advanced technology, The you know, it's you know, it's almost like the Moore's Law there. I it just keeps on getting better and better and better. I think it's I think in a very short order, it's going to be very hard to tell what's a robot and what's a person.


Mark: And that's exciting and terrifying. At the same time.


Scott: I have a tendency to date myself when I think about this stuff. I think about war games, you know, Joshua learning from, you know, all the different games, everything. When I hear people talk about A.I. learning, I immediately think of war games and and Joshua learning how to, you know, what everything means through games. But, you know, the cool thing about this, too, is, you know, we there's so much we can learn on all fronts. You know, I, I think it's it's been interesting to see whether people make judgments on this is clearly I this is clearly a person and how that's going to get probably harder in the coming years.


Scott: But I think it's still relevant to consider today, especially when we're talking about connecting with customers and providing them what they want and listening and learning from them because there's so much happening in their lives when they're especially when they're online, they've got people constantly talking to them, they're constantly tricked into clickbait, they're constantly tricked into all these different things to get their email address or something, you know, that benefits the other side. And all of that stuff creates an experience where there are judgments made.


Scott: I tend to think that a lot of prospects and potential customers are already cynical, even if they choose to click to land on something. I really like how one of the things that you've talked about is, you know how little you have now. Well, time you have now to make an a first impression on something like a website. You know, you only have a few seconds to make that impression. And a lot of that is based on on that, along with the fact that, you know, when you've been dealing with so much stuff, you know, not finding what you need and people doing all these things, you don't have time to, you know, spend 10 minutes to see if this company really has what you need.


Scott: And I know one of the things that you've talked about is, you know, you really only have like a handful of seconds to make that impression. What are some of the key factors you think people need to consider so they can help themselves, perhaps pass that test when someone lands on their site and only gives them a few seconds to make a good impression?


Mark: Yeah, you're absolutely right. I think I mean, I think there's studies that show you have 5 seconds before to make a first impression before someone will click away if you fail. Yeah. Again, it goes back to talking to your customers, what's important to them? What do they need to know how to differentiate yourself? You know, you mix that that data with some creativity and you create a home page that talk to them, talks to their aspirations, talks to the experiences that they want to have, doesn't talk about benefits or features. It talks to me, the person, and this is why we think this is what we do for you.


Mark: And this is this is why you should at least give us the benefit of the doubt. That's the first step. Second step would be, okay, make it easy for me to learn more so and terms your terms of the navigation or the way that your home page is structured. Show me. Okay, let's start with the benefits. Okay, That looks pretty cool. That's relevant to me. What are the what are the features that I need to know that seems relative to me who else is using this? I mean, all this is is essentially sort of marketing one on one. And then the other thing is, if I want to take it to the next step, if I, if I trust you, if I like what you're saying, then make it easier for me to connect with you.


Mark: I love it when a website says let's talk and in a calendar appointment form comes up and allows me to book right there. I love it would be even. Better from the calendar form came up and gave me some testimonials from clients and maybe as I filled out the form, it would give me relevant information because it would know who I am. I mean, those are very, you know, forward looking kind of features. But the idea is I'm interested. Let's get this conversation started and doesn't necessarily have to be a phone call.


Mark: And the one thing I would stress just because I give you my email address, just because I asked for a demo or I want to learn more doesn't mean you still have to start calling me right away or send a slew of emails right away. Yeah. The problem is, is that people want a date and they want to get married right away as opposed to getting to know each other, you know, having a relationship, that kind of thing. So, you know, whole pages are super important. And I come across so many home pages to struggle with messaging that is confusing and unclear. And if you can't tell right away why this company would matter to you, then, then you're in trouble.


Mark: And the easiest way is, you know, go to a company like Sense Check or Winter and get third parties to essentially say, What do you think of our website? What do you think of our home page? And and often a third party perspective can give me some really valuable insight.


Scott: Definitely. And you know, you talk about email. I know that you've provided some great insight for me to be companies on the email front and newsletter front. It's still a very powerful tool. One of the reasons for it still being powerful and useful, as you know, it doesn't cost really a lot to have to send an email, but the right things, just like everything else we've talked about, the right things have to be in there and it has to be communicated in a certain way. And I love how you've told marketers to create conversations by going to the consumer. So when you're deciding to write that email or develop that content, you've already got that intent that you're looking for.


Scott: You know, we're just talking about feedback, we're looking for ideas, we're looking for feedback, we're looking for suggestions, we're looking for ways to help. And I liked your phrase of don't create a Trojan horse for a case study or an upsell. I love that because, you know, you can't you can't have the intent to do this. And what you're really trying to do is get that. So what are some of the things that you tell people to focus on in order to achieve success on the email front and newsletters so that they can start getting responses that I think, you know, if you if you position with the right way, you're probably going to be surprised at the results you get from consumers that are actually willing to engage in conversations in ways that are beneficial to you.


Mark: So let's split that question to two parts email on one side and newsletter on the other. And a lot of companies are leaning into ABM these days. A lot of companies are immediate cold or semi cold ABM, and I've changed my view on email, to be honest with you, over the last little while. You know, I think people are time strapped and to break through you need to have copy that captures their attention that it's not about personalization. So that the email starts with, Hey Scott, how you doing? Right, Everybody can do that. That's really easy. It's more around.


Mark: We understand your world, we understand your challenges. And this is what's possible by using our product. This is what you're missing out on by not using our product. Hey, a company just like yours is doing this with our product, and it's it's making your email messaging relevant and aligned with how they do their jobs, what they think, what they want to do. So that's one side of it. And the second part of the whole email proposition is give, give, gift ask.


Mark: So you want to set the FOMO, but you also want to give them resources. Again, what you're doing in a very elegant way is set yourself as a trusted resource. Yeah, we're reaching out to you. You know what the how the game is played. We want to make a sale. At least we want to get a call with you. But in the meantime, even if you never take us up on our offer, we'll give you some valuable content. We'll give you something that's interesting. It's going to it's going to help you in some way. And even if it doesn't lead to a relationship or you becoming a customer, it's all about building that that brand affinity, right, that referral engine.


Mark: And then eventually, after you give a lot, you can ask, say, Hey, we've given you all this great information. How would you like to jump on a call? Yeah, how could we show you how we could help you? So that's on the email side. And I think, you know, it requires creativity and be getting to the point and being very succinct and tight with your copy. And in the newsletter side, I'm really fascinated, especially with customer newsletters, is that we ignore our customers or we don't give them a lot of love. You know, newsletters are pretty boring. We put on these webinars once in a while that are pretty uninspiring, but I think newsletters, particularly now when retention is so important, that we need to remember the fact that our job as marketers is to educate our customers, make them feel loved, get them to use and appreciate the product more than ever, and so we can give them information about the product.


Mark: We can tell them how they can get more value. But at the same time, we also want to use a newsletter to educate them. Wrote this amazing article. You should read it. Or we found this amazing article by another company. And it's so good. We think you should read it too. So yeah, don't kid yourself as sort of a walled garden. The fact there's all kinds of. So what you're trying to do is really, again, position yourself as a valuable resource. The companies look and go, These guys are really smart and they're interested in how I'm doing. And I think that's and you touch your customers on a regular basis.


Mark: And if you can just every so often remind we're here, we're thinking about you and that makes them think about that. You value your business and they'll stick around.


Scott: I would assume, too, is something you can do to help make it more valuable. We're talking about having conversations and listening is give people an easy way to maybe give you feedback on that newsletter, Maybe say, is there something more you want? I mean, has something been more helpful than others? Would you like to see other elements? I mean, would you recommend things like that and would you recommend that if you know, so it's not the typical newsletter because I have to you know, I think we're still fighting some of those similar things that you were just talking about with email. You know, something landing in the box, whether it's, you know, an email newsletter or an email, you know, we still have to give them a reason to open.


Scott: And obviously, if you're providing value, maybe the fourth, fifth or sixth time it shows up, someone might click on it because you've demonstrated, hey, when these come in, these offer value to me, would you suggest people do things like first maybe provide that at some point in time, a chance to give feedback on the newsletter? And would you recommend maybe varying the content a little bit? Maybe not. Everything is something you read, but if you have a way to put audio content into it or video content into it, or maybe just an option to read or listen to, something might be of benefit to people.


Mark: Yeah, I think variety's the spice of life because a lot of emails become you get email fatigue gets yeah format time after time and I think that feedback and interactivity are super important. So if you make it easy for people to tell you what they think because customers are dying to tell you their ideas how you can improve the product, what they like about the product, what they don't. And it's as easy as respond to this email or click on this link and fill out this little five minute form. And if you fill it out, I want you to draw like you you really want to drive interactivity. I'm working with a client called Jumanji OMG, and what they're all about is interactivity is embedded content, including email with videos, audio photos, email, widgets, slideshows, feedback forms, and making email more of a two way kind of stickier conversation so that most email is just one way.


Mark: Hey, read this. Maybe there's a few links.


Scott: Thanks for your time.


Mark: Yeah, but what if email was was dynamic? What if email was multifaceted? What if it if it was, it gave people a variety of options that they could go off and explore different things. Some of that about your product and your company, but some of the things that are just interesting. So I think there's a there's a huge opportunity for people to take email to the next level and and and get to the point where people actually look forward to your emails. Hey, it arrive. I can't wait to read it because it could be something interesting.


Scott: Putting it that way. It just seems to be consistent with the way marketing and the relationship between consumers and companies is really going. And that's where everything is an experience. I mean, what you just described to me is you have the email that you read and then you have that email experience. And if it feels more like an experience and it's valuable and there's probably elements in there that could be entertaining as well, there's an entertainment element maybe just makes you smile or laugh at something for a couple seconds during the course of the day.


Scott: And you know, that's going to be there every single time. And there's, like you say, a video element and photos and all these other things. If you have somebody who's maybe thinking about where to start or, you know, kind of a starting place, I know we talked about positioning statement, but where do you think people can really start to have these conversations, infuse conversations into their business model?


Mark: Well, this is going to sound like a repetitive answer, but that goes back to our original thesis, which is talking to your customers and prospects, understanding their problems, challenges their aspirations, how they do their jobs, the ways in which they want to be more successful, the gaps that they have right now. So once you understand that, then you can figure out how to talk to them and how to do marketing that resonates and connects with them. So that's number one. And then you can find out where they actually find information and the places where you need to be.


Mark: Because channel selection now is really important because you can. Yeah, with limited budgets, you can't be all places to attract all people. You really need to be disciplined and focused. Your customers will tell you where they hang out and you can do really well by adopting a less is more approach to market. You can pick two or three channels and really kill it on those channels and you may never even have to expand it to other channels. So you may decide as a B2B SaaS company, what I'm going to do is I'm going to write two blog posts a month and then I'm going to extract, you know, six LinkedIn posts and I'm going to use all that content for my newsletter.


Mark: And that may be all you need to attract. So, you know, again, going back to one of our original points of discussion was, was quantity over quality. And I fall into the quality care. And I think that for a lot of companies, starting out with marketing is the realization that you can do it, you can do a little bit, but do it well. And that's as powerful and as successful as trying to be, you know, taking a shotgun approach to marketing where you're everywhere and anywhere. That would be the place to start.


Scott: And, you know, to to kind of connect that. The other thing that I've been able to talk to people about, about some of the maybe hidden advantages to getting away from the large volume of everything, whether it's, you know, content or all these, you know, big high number approaches we used to have maybe ten years ago. And, you know, to your point, it was understandable maybe when this all started, when we were all kind of figuring out the best way to do this. And there wasn't near as much to compete with online, with SEO and blogs and content like there is now.


Scott: But now that they're there is a reason to not have to be everywhere at once, along with the fact that one of those good reasons could be you don't have to, you know, in your audience may not even be on some of those channels. I also feel like whether it's email, when we start talking about quality and maybe narrowing things down to a quality focus, there might be long term relationships we can have with those consumers that are willing to take that kind of journey with the company.


Scott: You know, you probably have people on your email list or that might look at you occasionally on social media, and it's great to have that follower or it's great to have that person who hasn't said unsubscribe. But if you are focusing more on quality over quantity, those smaller number of people that are those next level people, they're just that next level interest in the company or what you do, and they're the ones that are willing to engage with you. They are the ones that are willing to do more than just look at it and keep the day moving.


Scott: They'll share feedback, they'll interact, they'll click on things. And maybe if there is a focus on quality and smaller numbers, I would think that there's there's probably long term benefits to being able to curate and find those consumers that really are probably going to be kind of next level willing to have those conversations with you. And it might be even easier to find those people if you're really focused on that type of content.


Mark: If you can position yourself as a trusted, go to resource somebody who consistently delivers valuable and different insight, then that's a great way of setting yourself up for a long term relationship. Even if somebody in your pipeline never becomes a customer, maybe forget about the fact that a lot of marketing happens these days, a lot of marketing success happens these days because of word of mouth. Yeah. And people talking in other places. You know, there's a lot of talk about the dark web and dark social and there's companies, customers that come to you. They'd never touched you before.


Scott: Yeah.


Mark: They've never had an interaction. They never downloaded a white paper, never read a blog post. You left a comment, but they know a lot about you by the time they get there. And I think that companies that build relationships that deliver great content and good marketing are really setting the stage up for short and long term success. And yeah, I just think that, you know, it's a fast paced world. There's so much content out there. I think there's a study that suggested that the average person reads, listens or hears 100,000 words a day of content, you know, billboards, video games, text messages, text.


Scott: Messages.


Mark: Yeah. You know, so, so how do you break through? And and my my thesis is that quality is one of the ways to make that happen.


Scott: Well, and this has been a high quality conversation as expected. I really appreciate you being here and sharing your insights. I'm going to have links to you, your presence on LinkedIn, on social, your website, your podcast. But I also wanted to find out if you have anything coming up or anything going on that you want people to know about.


Mark: Actually, the exciting development, at least in my world, is the second edition of my book, Marketing Spark. Yeah, was recently.


Scott: Opened by the last.


Mark: Thank you on Amazon. I you know the the sort of working title is fewer spelling mistakes, better grammar. You know as an author you look back at any of your work blog posts, LinkedIn post, you know, videos you make and you always think, Oh man, I could have made that so much better. So one of the things I did. Let's go through it and go, okay, this I'm going to try to make it a lot better. So I'm very excited. Took about a year to do to really focus on how to improve it. And it just it hit Amazon last month so give me want to check it out That'll be great.


Scott: Awesome. Definitely want to check that out. Looking forward to other insights you're going to share on LinkedIn and looking forward to keeping track of everything else you have going on. Thank you so much for the insightful conversation today, Mark. Thanks for being on the show and Hope. Talk to you again soon.


Mark: Yeah, thanks for having me. Love the conversation.


Scott: Me too.


The emphasis on spending more time on quality makes me think about other insights shared on this podcast. Not only is it a good idea because it doesn't stretch your resources beyond boundaries. But from a people perspective, it allows B2B companies to reduce time trying to promote, sell and win over people who aren't engaging and spend more time with people who are already engaging with them and loved them. When those people become advocates for you, that's when they're doing some of the marketing with you.


So you've essentially expanded your marketing efforts at that point without having to invest any more time, money or energy. And they're talking to people just like them and making the case for you. It makes me think about something else we've heard on this show, community focused marketing and the impact it will have now and in the next few years. And it's also another reminder about how we're not actually supposed to be marketing in the traditional sense anymore. Just like the name of Mark's business book and podcast, we need to spark emotion, conversation, engagement and connection.


Scott: But if you listen to Mark's podcast or this podcast, you already know that. As always, I will have relevant links to this show on Scott Murray online dot com. You'll find the show notes there and you'll see links to Mark's book, his presence on LinkedIn, his podcast, and his website. If I can help you build better connections with your consumers and customers, you can email me. You can also fill out the form on the website or you can record a message from your computer or device. Thank you to Mark Evans for joining us today and thank you for listening to Get the Message.

Mark EvansProfile Photo

Mark Evans

Fractional CMO & Strategic Advisor

As a fractional CMO and strategic advisor, Mark helps B2B SaaS companies accelerate growth by building rock-solid marketing foundations. His expertise in positioning, messaging, brand storytelling, and go-to-market planning ensures clients attract and engage with better prospects.