In this episode, we’ve got Kathleen Booth with us. Kathleen is SVP of Marketing at Tradeswell, where she’s on a mission to empower a new generation of digital-first marketplace brands. Join us for a great conversation about marketing and why you should be marketing to people who aren’t in the market at all, yet.
If you missed episode 205, check it out here: Changing How You Communicate with Buyers with Shruti Kapoor
What You’ll Learn
- How Kathleen grew a newsletter to 30,000 subscribers
- How to turn your marketing department into a revenue generator
- How to keep key stakeholders excited about your long-term content strategy
- Why performance marketing isn’t effective
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Show Agenda and Timestamps
- About Tradeswell and Kathleen [3:34]
- Turning a marketing department into a revenue generator [15:44]
- Keeping key stakeholders excited about a long-term content strategy [21:34]
- Performance marketing isn’t effective [25:19]
- Paying it forward [27:29]
- Sam’s Corner [29:25]
About Tradeswell and Kathleen [3:34]
Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, it’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast. We’ve got an incredible show for you this week. We’ve got Kathleen Booth, SVP of Marketing at Tradeswell. We’re going to have this amazing conversation about marketing and people that are not even buying at all, because they are referring other people that are buying. Before we get there, let’s listen to a word from our sponsors.
Before we get there, let’s listen to a word from our sponsors.
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We’re excited to have you, Kathleen. So we like to start with your baseball card.
Kathleen Booth: We like to think of Tradeswell as the operating system for real time commerce. Which really just alludes to the fact that e-commerce has grown incredibly complex, and we provide brands with one platform where they can see all of their sales, marketing, operations and finance data normalized down to the SKU level. And we surface actionable insights for them to take the steps necessary to make their business more profitable.
Sam Jacobs: Let’s learn a little bit about you as a person. Give us a sense for where you come from and how you got here.
Kathleen Booth: I was sitting on the boards of a number of tech companies, startups, and I was also on the board of the Maryland Technology Council. And I was seeing how scalable B2B tech was and thinking, “What the heck am I doing in an agency with a professional services model where growth means hiring?” The owner had this vision of building a media company around the agency. The entrepreneur in me really loved that idea. It felt like building a company within a company. We really got some incredible results in that time. We grew top line revenue by 54% in a year. It was like 250% almost in two years.
We built a community of 5,000 members. We started a conference that had 700 people attending it. We grew website traffic to over a half a million visitors per month. And we launched a newsletter that had 30,000 plus subscribers. So we were able to really start to monetize our marketing. That leads me to where I am now. Now I’m head of marketing at Tradeswell.
Sam Jacobs: Let’s talk a little bit about turning that agency into a media company. And I’m curious, how did you get 30,000 subscribers to your newsletter?
Kathleen Booth: It’s an interesting question. I think the world is littered with horrible corporate newsletters. The newsletter had to really be in the voice of a person, and it had to have a perspective and a point of view and some personality. We published three times a week. In the media business, the key difference is media is about developing a habit amongst your audience, and becoming a part of their daily, or their weekly, life.
Turning a marketing department into a revenue generator [15:44]
Sam Jacobs: What are the best practices that you can encourage other people that aspire to turn their marketing department into a revenue generator?
Kathleen Booth: Media businesses are really good at building audiences, whereas marketers are really good at monetizing audiences, meaning we sell them stuff. We might not build audiences that are as large, but we know how to sell them things. When you combine those two skill sets, that’s where the magic really happens. To combine them effectively, you have to rethink how you approach content. The reason that media businesses are so great at building audiences is that they do some, let’s call it, transactional content, news articles, things where you might read it, and then you might not come back. But they do focus a lot on episodic content.
It starts with rethinking how you approach content, and thinking about serialized content and episodic content. There are some companies in the B2B space that do that really well. So that would be kind of one aspect. But the other is then, how to create a flywheel around this? What I’ve learned is that it’s the content combined with the distribution, which in this case is like a great newsletter and, of course, your web property, community, and then events. All of those things tend to reinforce each other, and taken together, do create a flywheel for growth if you’re taking this approach.
Keeping key stakeholders excited about a long-term content strategy [21:34]
Sam Jacobs: How do you convince tight-fisted, chief financial officers and founders that are worried about immediate ROI?
Kathleen Booth: It starts with selecting where you take your job, based on the attitude of leadership. When I joined Tradeswell, I sat down with the CEO. He was making me the offer to join, and he said, “What’s it going to take for you to say yes?” And I said, “Well, I need to know that you’re on the same page as me with how I believe marketing should be done.” It starts there. You need to vet the company that’s looking to hire you just as they’re vetting you.
Now, some people are listening to this and saying, well, I’m already working somewhere. So how do I navigate that conversation? There’s really two points to be made. One is that marketing has fundamentally changed. Buying decisions are not happening like they did seven, eight years ago. What happens now, more so than anything else is, if I need to buy something, I go into Pavilion or I go into my peer groups and I say, “Hey, what are you guys using?” I get two or three brand names. I don’t go to Google and search best call tracking software. I go to Google and I type in the names of three call tracking software companies that somebody else has told me to check out.
The traditional approach to marketing where you’re marketing to an in-market buyer only solves for half the equation. You actually have to be marketing to people who are not buying right now, who may not buy anytime soon, or who may not buy ever. But they’re the ones that are making those recommendations in those walled gardens. And that’s where this media approach is so effective. It keeps you in front of that audience that you’re trying to reach, the buyer and/or their peer set, whether they’re currently in a buying cycle or not.
The second point is, if you do it right, you should be able to monetize it.
Performance marketing isn’t effective [25:19]
Sam Jacobs: You wrote, “Performance marketing isn’t effective.” Tell us what you mean by that.
Kathleen Booth: I’m being very absolutist in that statement in the end. That’s a little bit to provoke controversy. I’m not going to say performance marketing is dead, but anyone who thinks that they can run an entire marketing strategy purely on data is kidding themselves.
I just talked about walled gardens, and there’s this notion of dark social that people are talking about, where, what happens if I’m in Pavilion and I ask for a recommendation and somebody says, “Oh, you should check out Gong. I feel like that conversation happens 10 times a day. And then I go to Gong’s website. Well, if Gong’s relying just on data to figure out what brought me to their site and do attribution, they’re probably going to either see it as organic traffic or direct, but they’re not going to know it came from Pavilion. Too much of what works in marketing right now isn’t trackable.
One of the most important ingredients in marketing is brand. It’s also the one that’s the hardest to measure.
Paying it forward [27:29]
Sam Jacobs: When you think about paying it forward, who are people or ideas or books that you think we should know about?
Kathleen Booth: Adam Grant is somebody that I’m a real big fan of. He wrote a book that I really loved called Give and Take. Throughout history, many of the most successful people have been people who led with a give-first mentality.
Sam Jacobs: What’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Kathleen Booth: I have a personal website, which is Kathleen-Booth.com. I’m really active on LinkedIn.
Sam’s Corner [29:25]
Sam Jacobs: Hey, folks. Sam’s corner. What a great conversation with Kathleen Booth. Too many people don’t understand what brand is. If you’re not generating leads, what are you doing? One of the ways you shape brand is by investing in content.
Kathleen talks about investing and turning your marketing organization partially into a media company so that you can be part of conversations that are not actively happening in a buying sense for your company, but are actively happening from a referential sense. When people are talking about, who’s the best person to use this? Who’s the best person to use that? That’s where your brand, that’s where your content, that’s where the ideas that you populate come into play.
Don’t miss episode 207!
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