In B2B Marketing: Tomorrow’s Best Practices Today, we feature expert interviews about the state of B2B Marketing and what the future holds. In this post, I interview Cassandra Jowett, Senior Director of Marketing at PathFactory
Tell us about yourself?
Hi, I’m Cassandra, the Senior Director of Marketing at PathFactory, a B2B marketing technology company. Leading enterprise and mid-market B2B companies use PathFactory to accelerate nurture, improve win rates, and understand content performance by delivering intelligent content experiences across the buyer journey.
Note: Follow Cassandra on Twitter (@cassandrajowett).
In other words: I market marketing software to marketers. It’s a fun space to work in!
I live in Toronto, Canada 🇨🇦 and a fun fact about me is that I’m an avid backcountry canoe camper. I love to disconnect by paddling and portaging (carrying your canoe and other equipment over land between lakes) out of cell service and into the beautiful Canadian wilderness as often as I can.
— Cassandra Jowett (@cassandrajowett) September 8, 2015
Tell us about your background in B2B marketing?
One important detail to know about me is that I meant to be a journalist, originally.
I went to journalism school here in Toronto, where I learned how to research, interview, write, and make complex topics easy to understand. I was wrapping up my last year of j-school when the so-called Great Recession hit, and I stumbled into an opportunity to work at a brand new startup doing sales development and then marketing work.
I had no idea what I was doing, but it was fun, and within a few years I realized the work I did actually had a name: content marketing.
Through content, I helped build that startup into the #1 career website for students and recent grads in Canada, and the top resource for employers looking to understand how to attract, hire, and retain millennials.
My work caught the attention of a startup CEO who wanted to evangelize his business with content, and that’s how I ended up at Influitive and in the B2B marketing industry more generally. Working at Influitive is where I really started to understand the important role content plays in demand generation and revenue for B2B companies.
Tell us about your career progression at PathFactory?
I joined as the first Director of Content Marketing in 2017, but my goal in joining PathFactory (then LookBookHQ, before we rebranded) was really to learn as much as I could about demand generation.
I was hired by Elle Woulfe, who was the VP of Marketing at the time – an expert in building growth engines from the ground up – and joined with the intention of working closely with her and the Director of Demand Generation, Chris Vandermarel.
Plus, our software was designed to help demand generation marketers like Chris do their jobs better. It was all demand gen, all the time. My first six months were pretty humbling, but I learned so much, so fast. After a couple of years, Chris had the opportunity to move into a product marketing leadership role, as the expert power user of PathFactory’s product.
That made room for me to explore leading demand gen in addition to content, as the Director of Integrated Marketing. The idea was that my team would create content knowing how it would be promoted and measured – the full content lifecycle – in service of demand gen and revenue growth.
A little over three years after I first joined the company, I’m leading demand gen, content, customer marketing, and brand as the Senior Director of Marketing, and still working very closely with Chris and product marketing.
Note: Here is Cassandra’s career journey explained in a tweet:
Journalism student + retail > Early-stage startup Swiss army knife > Content Marketing Manager > Director of Content Marketing > Multidisciplinary marketing director
— Cassandra Jowett (@cassandrajowett) May 9, 2019
Tell us a best practice of tomorrow that B2B marketers should be doing today?
“We have to put our egos aside and admit that it’s better to have 100 of the right people than 1,000 of the wrong people engaging with our campaigns.”
The last 5-10 years of B2B marketing have been all about scale, and while a lot of marketers like to talk about ABM, the truth is most of us don’t always do it very well. We still try to “scale” everything, to our detriment.
But in B2B, especially if you sell to the enterprise, scale isn’t necessarily what you need. Not all the time. It’s about speaking to a very small number of people about their individual needs specifically and being satisfied with moving the needle for the right people rather than just pushing marketing to a ton of people and hoping the right ones are in there.
In order to do that, you actually have to be able to measure the movement of those buying committees and understand what content each individual person is consuming as well as what the whole buying committee is looking at.
It also means, as marketers, we have to put our egos aside and admit that it’s better to have 100 of the right people than 1,000 of the wrong people engaging with our campaigns.
PathFactory launched a virtual events offering this year. Tell us about it, along with how you’re using virtual events for your own marketing?
As soon as the pandemic began and in-person events were being cancelled out of an abundance of caution, we started hearing from some of our enterprise clients about their needs around virtual events and how virtual events had to connect to their larger digital marketing strategy.
Very quickly, we started to develop our new Virtual Event Experience with those needs in mind. It’s simple: video is the star of the show, but attendees can seamlessly engage with other content while they’re watching the video.
We’re inspired more by YouTube and the TED Talks website than the “virtual expo hall” solutions currently available, which certainly have their niche. I’m looking forward to using it for our own virtual events soon!
— PathFactory (@pathfactory) May 8, 2020
In the meantime, our marketing team has been testing different approaches to smaller virtual events, such as webinars, panels, series, etc. I’m a big fan of series rather than one-off events because you can engage people with content you know they’re interested in over and over again, and it’s less of a heavy lift for our small team.
Lately I’ve also been advocating for planning ahead to create live content that can easily be broken up into smaller videos to watch on-demand. 60-minute recordings are pretty intimidating for most people, so if you can let them jump around to the topics that are most important to them within that video content, that’s extremely helpful and they’re more likely to watch on-demand.
You were recently on an AMA webinar about how to rethink content strategy and distribution in today’s climate. Give us a summary of what you covered?
Listen to your customers or, at the very least, your customer-facing staff. Anytime you’re unsure about what to do, your customers will tell you.
Looking forward to being part of this conversation. If all else fails, ask how you can best help your audience right now – connect with their challenges and address them in your content. https://t.co/FE9K95LPIF
— Cassandra Jowett (@cassandrajowett) April 28, 2020
Once you have some of that information, focus your marketing efforts on topics and formats that will actually help your customers the most. Instead of talking to them about COVID-19, address the challenges they’re facing as a result of COVID-19.
Instead of spending months perfecting long assets, be agile and release shorter pieces that are faster and easier to consume.
Amplify the voices of your customers. As hard as it is to admit sometimes, nobody cares what the CEO of your company thinks. They just don’t. They want to know what people like them are doing, thinking, feeling.
And this is a great time to make your customers feel like rockstars.
Share an example or two when you applied your background in journalism to your marketing?
“Interviewing and listening skills are surprisingly underrated in marketing.”
Where do I start?
I apply my journalism education and skills at work every day as a marketer. In order to understand complex enterprise technology, you have to be curious and persistent about understanding how things work.
I ask a lot of questions.
When I first joined PathFactory and started learning about artificial intelligence, those skills came in handy. Now I can write about AI all day long – for a marketing audience of course.
Interviewing and listening skills are surprisingly underrated in marketing. Marketing involves a lot of “talking,” but you really need to listen to so many different stakeholders to inform your strategy and understand if it’s working – sales, customer success, your customers and prospects, executives.
When people ask how I got so fast and so good at writing, I answer honestly: practice! I honed my writing skills as a journalist by writing millions of words on deadline. Nobody is born a good writer.
Given that you worked at Influitive, what’s your take on the current state of advocate marketing?
“I certainly miss putting a request out to customers in the morning, and having enough feedback and content to fill an eBook by the afternoon.”
Incorporating customer advocacy into your marketing has become completely normalized. Back in 2013, you didn’t see companies putting their customers’ faces and testimonials all over their websites.
Now, it’s second nature for the really smart, savvy marketers out there.
While it hasn’t become the separate, unique marketing function we thought it might become, it’s certainly a critical part of many marketing strategies today and a skillset that most customer marketers need to have.
I think most of us marketers are still trying to figure out how to get that direct line to our whole customer base, and you see all kinds of different solutions for that: communities, Slacks, Facebook groups, etc.
Despite how powerful I know it can be, it doesn’t seem like the combination of advocacy + community has become best practice yet. I certainly miss putting a request out to customers in the morning, and having enough feedback and content to fill an eBook by the afternoon.