B2B Marketing: Makin it Great!

Anyone remember the old Pizza Hut commercials “Pizza Hut….Making it Great!‘ When I was 7, my favorite thing about this commercial was the jazzy little tune. But now that I’m a bit older, I think I like the versatility of the statement. They’re not stating that their product is the only one or the leader in the market, the cheapest option or even WHAT makes it so great. They are just “makin it great” every day.

Bear with me. There are a lot of recruiters who have had to become great marketers and everyone gives them props for their transition, today I want to focus on the marketeers in our industry. You know, the ones that seed our field with great leads, the ones who work hard to earn your respect because “they’re not a real HR Pro”, the ones who may never be on an influencer list because they’re not practitioners per se. I used to complain (I do that a lot you know) that there weren’t any other great marketing pros in our field. I was wrong and it was proven to me over the last few days, when I met loads of them in spades (some for the first time and some not). Here are the character traits I noticed in these people that I believe make them successful marketing pros in our space.

Rayanne Thorn- Okay I KNOW she used to be a recruiter, but Rayanne’s tenure as Marketing Director of Broadbean has stood the test of time. She continues to support her sales team, communicate with senior leadership and set herself apart. Here’s why. As I was trolling walking the halls of the expo, I was struck by Broadbean’s booth. It wasn’t bigger than the others (10×10) but it was fantastic. Rayanne had turned the entire space into a beachy, sunny paradise! People flocked to the area, myself included. When I had a chance to speak to her CEO, Kelly Robinson he said “I told her I wanted it to be stunning and she did this all. It’s the little details that make it perfect!” Here was the CEO of his company literally gushing over the job she’d done. Those of who know Rayanne know that she’d worked her butt off for that effect and those words, hauling surfboards down the Vegas strip, staying up late to make the booth perfect and then filling in for a booth worker when they had an unexpected death in the family.

Rayanne’s Secret Sauce: Hard, consistent work and a laser focus on the “little things”.

Felix Wetzel: In our industry we can be a bit starstruck, focusing on those that burn brightly and make the most noise. Felix Wetzel (until recently) has not been one of those. At Jobsite for nearly 13 years, he continues to take marketing as seriously as I imagine he did when he first started. Constructor of deals around sports and multimedia, I imagine, some marketing directors for big US outfits like Monster and Careerbuilder might take a page from his (ahem) playbook when figuring out where to put their consumer dollars. I recently spoke to Felix about his decision making skills (ones that have his company creating a global post for him) and it was simple: “I follow my gut. I do what I know I am good at and I don’t beat myself up for not having certain skills.” It could be a sentence from Gallup’s Strengthfinders 2.0, but it’s more than that.

“Obviously, no decision is made without due analysis and planning. And nor should it be. But ultimately I go with my instincts. If you know your brand and your audience inside out, your gut reaction usually tells you a lot more than pages of research and columns of numbers,” Felix states.

It’s simply the well-honed work philosophy of someone who’s been doing this long enough to see results that back up his premise.

Felix’s secret sauce: Unadulterated confidence in himself and those he chooses to work with.

Kelly Cartwright: It’s only been a couple of years since I worked with Kelly. At that time she was VP of Marketing at FutureStep. I think this may have been my first flash of what the difference between start up marketing and corporate marketing actually is. While our titles may have been similar, our roles could not have been more different. Her precision and dogged determination to get the deal signed and actioned was like nothing I’d ever encountered before. Up until this point, I’d been sort of a “granola” marketer, which means I gravitated toward natural results of campaigns that were based solely on what I thought people wanted. Not Kelly. She wanted data and results. Why? So that she knew when the campaign was finished, she’d have something of value for both her customers AND her executive leadership. Now at SourceRight, I recently spoke with Kelly and what sums up her marketing style. She also has responsibility for product strategy and development.

“So I am constantly thinking… do our solutions align with market and buyer needs? What do we need to add to our suite of solutions–do we build, partner or acquire these capabilities? Are we thinking ahead of our competition and where the market is going? I want to win. I want to back the best product.”

Kelly’s Secret Sauce: Competitive Precision.

Travis Arnold: I recently met Travis in an airstream trailer (The Starr Conspiracy trailer to be exact) and the first thing I said to him (and his boss) was: “I see your ads everywhere. You must do a ton of retargeting.” The way their heads swiveled around said it all. Yes they do, and YES, Travis can talk about the data and what it means to his sales team at Sendouts, all day long.

“The coolest part about it is that you KNOW if you do A,B, and C, you will get these results. People think it’s a guessing game but it’s not.”

Travis claims to live in Google Analytics and only campaigns that pass muster get thrown against the wall again. His secret weapon? A killer copywriter, who had to take multiple writing tests before hire. Travis places a high value on words and data and the amount of leads he feeds into sales is proof that it works.

“We use an agile, iterative process to get things out the door faster. Also, personally I believe that data should be the foundation and driver for marketing programs and pairing those with kick-ass copy and elegant design tie it all together,” Travis stated.

Travis’ Secret Sauce: If the data supports it, he does it RIGHT NOW.

Evyenia Wilkins: I met Evy at the HRDemo show, where she was efficiently organizing an iTalent competition among various HR Tech Startups. Over the course of the conference and later via phone conversations, I got to know this quiet, hardworking powerhouse. The first US employee of a startup based in France, she found it difficult locating the HR Tech community in her new home base of San Francisco. So…she simply created one. Evy began organizing HR and Recruiting Technology gatherings in the Bay Area. By the time she made a move to voice analyzation software startup Saygent, which has an interviewing app called SayHired, she had built a tight knit group of HR tech minds in the area, started the iTalent competitions and made a significant dent in the HR space. All within a year. I think my boss Lucian Tarnowski said it best: “She just get things done. She’s definitely a mover and a shaker.”

Evy’s Secret Sauce: She doesn’t look for opportunities, she creates them.

Nicole Jordan: A tech PR star, Nicole’s first foray into the world of HR was HREvolution. And boy did she make a splash. Over a long lunch, I learned more about her employer BetterWorks and more about what she considers her job in marketing, PR and communications.

HR and PR aren’t so very different. Both are creating the story that gets told about the organization and both feel that their disciplines don’t receive the respect they deserve.”

Nicole not only won the Monster iPad (lucky!) she also spent a huge chunk of time asking questions, learning the dialogue and fitting what she knew about her profession around her two target markets. No shrinking violet, Nicole had much to say about CEO and leadership accountability and creating a sharp, cohesive story around her product and her company. Her absolute admiration for her employer and respect for the work she does (and clearly loves) shone through in her every statement.

Nicole’s Secret Sauce: Proficiency and inescapable curiosity.

David Kippen: There are few in the Recruiting/HR world who need me to tell them about David Kippen, head of Evivva Brands. An employer branding rockstar and creator of some of the most innovative branding campaigns IN THE WORLD, Kippen has used his curiosity to fuel unique insight into what makes jobseekers/candidates the world over, tick. One of my favorite stories about David centers around the event that sparked the idea for Marriott’s gamification campaign (along with Exaqueo’s Susan Strayer). According to recruiting lore, Kippen was hanging out on his balcony in India, when he saw several young men pointing and looking over the fence at the hotel’s kitchen entrance. Curious as ever, Kippen hurried downstairs to find out just what it was that had captured their attention so. Apparently, most of these young men (while able-bodied and clearly interested in working) had never even been inside a hotel. Seeing a clear opportunity to educate and help alleviate a hug unemployment crisis in India, David began ruminating on just HOW he could expose the inner workings of the hospitality industry to these potential workers who spent much of their free time (and money) playing games in the local internet cafes. Voila! This was born.

David’s Secret Sauce: Connecting the dots and problem solving on a global scale.