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Rowing on Strange Waters: Marketing as a Non-Marketer

By Billy Jennings on 4/26/22
Referencing If You Market Podcast Episode 160#: Marketing as a Non-Marketer, with Michael Osborne



If you’re a self-proclaimed business newbie and/or out of the loop with the plethora of  ever-changing tools and tactics out there, it can feel overwhelming dipping your toes into the water so to speak when it comes to marketing your business. This week Sky sits down with Michael Osborne, the president of Wunderkind whose lead sales teams at multiple companies to peel back the lid of marketing as a non-marketer.

According to Michael, when you’re working on the client-facing, sales side of things you are often challenged to keep the creative juices flowing even on those days where you have writer’s block or brain fog. You just have to keep showing up and getting the reps in, so to speak. “You’re always selling, you’re always marketing, you’re always promoting your brand, your product, your technology, your company, whether you’re a 10 person startup or 1000 person scaled organization and I think that you know those roles blend and end up working together very closely in situations where they’re doing it right. You know, I think that there’s a lot actually to unpack around how sales and marketing work together and how marketing is something that everyone does, of course, there are individuals that are super, super talented and brilliant at it… but in my past, we’ve had situations early days where we didn’t have that talent and we had to come up with it on our own and certainly, you know, learned through trial and error in some circumstances, what works, what doesn’t.”

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, customer feedback is one of the best (and not to mention most cost-effective ways) to streamline your service and improve the customer experience.  “Marketing is about communication of the full experience as opposed to simply an outcome, simply a goal, simply a number,” Michael says. By giving customers a solid, personalized experience, you tend to earn their trust. Sometimes it’s the first impression, sometimes it takes a little massaging over time, but overall it proves to be the best way to turn first time buyers into long-term clients. May it be good or bad, you connected! The good interactions are bonuses while the bad ones are templates for considerable improvements from the customer’s point of view.

Anyone who has dabbled even a little bit in marketing knows that it requires a lot of work, A/B testing,  planning, and adapting to challenges. As Michael mentioned, “Doesn’t mean if you have a flash of brilliance, that’s how you’re going to get there. No, it’s probably gonna be trench work.” I think what he’s getting at here is that it doesn’t matter how book-smart you are, how many online marketing course you’ve taken (guilty), or how much money you throw at an obstacle- if you don’t figure out how to adapt on your own and put that “sweat equity” into it, you’re never going to make the progress you desire when it comes to marketing your business. Unless of course you have the budget to hire a top-notch marketing team and take a more hands-off approach. Marketing isn’t one-size-fits-all. What worked for one campaign might not work on the next one. You have to adapt, adapt, and adapt.

As they venture further, Michael circled back again on the somehow-unrecognized incentives of giving a good customer experience and being versatile in adapting to their changing needs: “You got to be good enough at all of it, but you also have to be getting better at all of it all the time because those, you know, those conversations that the marketing initiatives will drive you into the feedback coming out of them, whether they go well or not, that feedback needs to be incorporated back into the message and going forward…I’m just gonna market this way for the next 12 months. Let’s see what happens without iterations without feedback, without a closed loop. You’re missing out on so much potential benefit to your process overall. And as you discover more and more of what customers do care about, what they don’t care about and you hone the details so that you those experiences that they’re going through as they’re working with you either from a marketing standpoint or in a sales call or eventually from a product, the better you make those experiences and the more value that you can deliver for them, the better that whole process becomes provided you’re incorporating it going forward. And not just saying this is the way we’re going to do it and we’re going to stay on this until, you know, it wins or loses. And I think really good companies do that. They iterate quickly. They figure out where the market is changing. They adapted to that and they’re able to continue to address customers’ needs as opposed to, you know, potentially never get there or become a laggard down the road.”

By now, you must have picked up a few tips from our hosts about marketing as a non-marketer. While Sky and Michael are providing us with these do’s and don’ts, they also reminded us that “this is not the exact way to do it, but rather why you’re doing it.” As a marketer, it is imperative that you also understand what you are doing, why it is important, and who it is for. This will not only enhance the quality of your work, but also increase its effectiveness with your target audience. You can use this in other professions as well!

Michael also shared his experience in working in Bizarre Voice: “You know, going back to the early days, partnership sales and marketing essentially, we learned very early on and this is, you know, this is not rocket science but learned early on that what sold best were customer testimonials essentially. It’s not, it’s maybe, it is ironic that we were ratings, interviews company, but selling based on the reviews of our services. Now they’re very, very different. B2B reviews are not what we were providing to technology or two brands rather we were providing technology to write product reviews, but we use our customers’ reviews of us, not just the product and service, the value that they got from that, but also the experience they had working with my team for working with me or working with our CEO so that those stories were what encouraged and excited and delighted potential customers to engage with us and take a look and listen to what we had to say and give it a try.” To add to the significance of customer testimonies, “We want to make sure that the customers know they’re getting value from what we’re doing. And of course, that generates hundreds of examples that we can share with others if they’ll allow us and if they don’t, that’s OK.”

As we wrap it up, Michael leaves us with a quote: “It’s never as good as you think it is and it’s never as bad as you think it is.” There is always something to change, to improve, because, “The pace of change is faster because technology allows it to.” It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the guns for marketing even if you aren’t a marketer. You just have to have the guts to get the guns.