Erik Huberman
June 28, 2019

How To Artfully Navigate B2B Media

Guest: Erik Huberman - Founder & CEO, Hawke Media

Email is still innovative…right? One might argue that email marketing has become the Facebook of marketing strategies—it was cool at first, it hasn’t declined yet, but everyone and their grandmother is now on it. So what are the trendy marketing kids using now? Erik Huberman, CEO & Founder of advertising agency Hawke Media, gives us the answer: SMS. As it turns out, customers only engage with marketing emails about 3% of the time, while the average click-through rate for SMS marketing tallies up to 30%. That’s a number to write home about.

Erik knows that these statistics are too important to ignore and knows that they’re indicative of a larger shift in B2B. Acknowledging that shift, and moving with it, has helped Erik’s young company grow from 7 to 160 employees in just about 5 years. On this week’s episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Drew chats with Erik about the shift in traditional advertising towards more efficient digital strategies, and how B2B marketers can navigate it artfully. Learn about how this shift isn’t for everyone, the importance of product demand, what an outsourced CMO does, and more.

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Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Erik Huberman

Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew, and in our continual effort to try to mix things up here at Renegade Thinkers Unite, I’ve got kind of a unique guest for you today. His name is Erik Huberman and he is the CEO and founder of a ridiculously fast growing agency based out in California. One of the things that I think is so interesting about this conversation is that Eric and his crew promise an Outsourced CMO, but he assures me that this is not a threat actually to CMOs, many of whom I know are listening to the show.

Just as a reminder, if I haven’t thanked you already, I will thank you at the beginning of the show for continuing to listen, and Erik and I are going to do our best to provide some real thought starters on things that may or may not be obvious, but we’re seeing out there as, we’ll call them tips—not mistakes, but opportunities for fine-tuning and improving marketing.  Erik, welcome to the show.

Erik Huberman: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Drew Neisser: First, let’s just go back a little bit. You started this company how long ago?

Erik Huberman: A little over five years ago.

Drew Neisser: Five years ago. And in those five years you’ve grown from—how many initial partners did you have when you founded the company?

Erik Huberman: No initial partners. It was independent and then one of my first hires became my partner, but it was still two of us. I started Hawke Media full-time in January 2014, and then brought on a team of about seven people initially. Now we’re a little over 160 full-time people in five years.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, that’s impressive growth by any standard and particularly impressive in a climate where lots of clients are bringing their work in-house. You hear a lot more about agencies closing their doors or consolidating, and not too many growing with that kind of pace. One of the things that I think is interesting about your promise is this Outsourced CMO. What do you guys mean by that?

Erik Huberman: Totally. It’s the idea, and I think frankly, it’s funny, we’ve talked a lot about the retail apocalypse and all these different shifts in industries, including the agency industry, and all these companies closing their doors—I actually don’t think there’s a problem in the retail industry or the agency industry, I think it’s a problem with an antiquated way of doing things.

Just like any other industry, we’re just going through a shift in the way things need to be serviced and the things that are expected by the client, so we took more of a consulting approach to marketing than an agency approach. What I mean by that is, we’re consultative. We actually go in and act as a strategy consultant on marketing and then are able to execute and do all the things that agencies have done traditionally as well.

The way we were able to articulate that is using the term “Outsourced CMO” because what that was intended to connote is high-level marketing consultation, not just agency delivery. The term agency generally means a middleman—someone between buying media and someone that needs media, or between those end producers and the person that needs them. With us, we’re not a middleman, we’re doing it all here and we’re also advising along the way and running it for the company.

We consider ourselves more of an outsourced marketing department and CMO than we do an agency. What that’s intended to do is not actually displace or replace the internal team. It depends on the scale of the business. We work with SMBs through Fortune 100s. We’re not replacing a Fortune 100 CMO. That’s not the intent, nor is that a good idea, but what is very important understand is when you’re the CMO at a Fortune 100, the idea of understanding the landscape and what’s going on in the ecosystem and understanding where it’s innovating and what’s changing and not getting distracted by things that aren’t worth it, like the promotion of VR the past few years that actually has that little to no adoption in terms of how much it should have and how much would actually mean something.

Those kinds of things that you need to navigate become very hard from an internal standpoint when you’re inside a company because you’re not seeing what’s happening with other companies. You might have a few conversations, you might read the news, but let’s be real. By the time it’s on the news, it’s six months out of date already. What we’re able to provide is that forest from the trees look because we actively manage marketing for 450 different companies, and we can go “Yeah, that’s all BS, but that’s worth looking at,” and we can be that navigator for companies.

You actually mentioned a pretty key point which is the idea of bringing it all in-house. One of my favorite talks about that was when the CMO of Pepsi preached about bringing all their marketing in-house and then launched that Kendall Jenner ad that, you know, well done, Pepsi. I’m going to alienate that apparently, going forward but like—

Drew Neisser: Not gonna be a client tomorrow, we’re pretty sure about that.

Erik Huberman: Probably not, and that’s okay. I’m still happy to have the conversation, but honestly, in general, the idea of doing everything in-house or outsourcing everything are both ridiculous. There are benefits to both, and there are drawbacks to both. What we’ve done as a company and the reason we’ve grown so fast is by listening to the things that are drawbacks on the agency side and trying to fix them. Not being strategic, being greedy, being antiquated, not moving fast, you know, costing too much. All these things—not being flexible—these things that we hear about agencies, like, Why am I signing longer-term contracts? Why am I paying for things I’m not using?

We created this a la cart month-to-month approach to it where you’re literally getting exactly what you need in that moment, and then everything is month t–month so it can change as fast as you need it to. That’s been the offering that’s more client-centric than most companies prefer us that are our competitors that’s allowed us to be the fastest-growing marketing company in the country. But again, the intent is not to completely displace the idea of hiring in-house, it’s to compliment it in a way that’s actually more beneficial to the client.

What we see is that there is an SMB and funded company motivation to bring everything in-house because of an enterprise value motivation, but it’s not necessarily what’s best for the business in the long run from a profitability and revenue growth standpoint. The example I give is, hiring a CMO early on is not cost-effective. A new business cannot afford a quarter-million-dollar CMO.

What ends up happening is that most companies hire some junior marketer two years out of college that frankly has never built a business, and the opportunity cost in that marketing is terrible. What we’ve tried to create is, instead of doing that, hire a fractional CMO to come in, and then as you’re ready and ramp up, and you’re ready to actually get a true Head of Marketing, get that person, and our person can help them get up to speed with your company faster. Then, as they grow, we can then just be that strategy consultant that’s bringing them that outside perspective. That’s the relationship that we’ve seen over the life cycle of a company.

Drew Neisser: Really what we’re talking about is a business size and the need, and as a smaller company, you’re just not going to be able to get that kind of expertise, so it makes sense to—you have no choice but to outsource it. Otherwise, you dumb source it. You get a junior person that really doesn’t have the vision or understanding.

Erik Huberman: That’s on the SMB side, and then on the later stage side, it’s more about having that outside view and outside perspective.

Drew Neisser: Right. Let’s talk about the outside perspective for a moment. I mean, you mentioned 450 marketing companies that you guys are working with and have served. Let’s work our way through the, if you will, the top tips or the biggest mistakes, whichever you want to go at, and let’s just break them down one at a time and have a conversation about some of the things that you’re seeing out there consistently that are either missed opportunities or…yeah.

Erik Huberman: Yeah, no problem. Number one, because it’s funny, I just had a great meeting with a Fortune 500 this morning that has very little CRM, and you know, retargeting aspect to their business. There’s this idea of separating media and retargeting and CRM and automation and follow up like they’re two completely separate different practices, but they complement each other. The fact that they’re not communicating—and this is very common in bigger businesses—small businesses generally understand the need to have that follow up because they’re so desperate to make that individual return work, they understand it. But when you get into bigger companies, a lot of them are behind on the idea of like even using email marketing properly.

Now, we have SMS, which is finally something that’s—using the statistics like, the nice thing about e-mail marketing is that it hasn’t declined over the past ten years as far as statistically like the returns, the open rates, the conversion rates, everything. It’s the exact same as it was ten years ago, so anything you read about email marketing declines, is just clickbait. They’re either using false statistics or they just don’t know what they’re talking about, which is way too common in our industry.

Just to clarify the number, we have 450 active clients. We’ve managed marketing for almost 2,000, and I can tell you across the board, when it comes to the digital side of the business whether it’s e-commerce, etc. 25% plus of revenue is driven through email marketing. That’s a big number to ignore. Using those statistics, the average open rate is about 15%, the average click-through rate in email is about 3%. Using SMS as a comparative, the average open rate is 98% and the average click-through is 30%, so it is ten times as effective. Knowing that and not utilizing that—which, it is a newer marketing thing, it takes time to get into that—is kind of crazy. It’s something that people need to be doing. That’s number one, I’d say: look at your email and SMS.

Drew Neisser: Right, so there’s email, that’s one. SMS is number two, and I just want to bring that one up because I was in a meeting with a large company, I don’t believe it was a client, but we were discussing the notion of SMS and there happened to be a lawyer in the room who was concerned about legal issues. His point was—and it’s interesting because this is the chair that that individual sits in—even if you do everything right as a large company with SMS, and it’s your customers, and if you have permission, you are still going to get sued. I thought that was really fascinating.

Erik Huberman: That was actually the case a year ago. That’s actually what’s shifted. There’s actually common law and direct guidelines on how to do SMS without getting sued. That was the case, but, again, our industry is full of people that don’t keep up with it. Back to the point of needing that outside counsel, that has actually changed, so the same Can’t-Spam Act that applies to email applies to SMS now. You have to have certain opt-out abilities, you have to have certain opt-in abilities, but as long as you’re covering yourself in that way, it is actually not opening yourself up to it. I mean, you can sue for anything.

Drew Neisser: Right. I think that’s the point though, and that’s the key. Look, if you’re a small business and the risks aren’t that great and the opportunity is huge, you’re very likely to take that thing. If you’re a huge company and you’re used to getting sued for anything, SMS is just another excuse whether it’s legal or not. And that was his point.

Erik Huberman: That’s fair. The thing I would say is, we deal with this with our own company, with our clients, be very careful when legal starts running your marketing team. That’s an issue to.

Drew Neisser: There it is. All right. Let’s take a break. We’ll come right back.

BREAK

Drew Neisser: We’re back, and we were just talking about good old e-mail as a reliable workhorse in the business of marketing. Then we stepped up to SMS as having an incredible effectiveness in terms of its ability. Obviously, that plays out I suspect against all demographics, but particularly well with the folks under 25. Let’s talk-those are two good reminders. What else you got?

Erik Huberman: The biggest shift we’re seeing right now is—so last year was the first-time digital advertising outpaced traditional advertising in terms of spend. What that’s done because of the way digital marketing works is that pricing has increased. It’s a supply-demand situation and now the demands really high so it gets more expensive. What that means is that if you traditionally were using digital marketing for direct ROI, you’re ROI’s declining. It’s just, it’s a fact of life. It’s costing more money, it’s going to have worse ROI, and so now you have to find ways to maximize your returns on your advertising more than people were doing before.

The past ten years, you’ve been able to do a lot of marketing on digital that had quick returns. You could spend $10, make $100 in a month, and keep going and it’s an arbitrage game. That’s getting more difficult to achieve, and so, what we’re finding is that you have to find ways to increase your conversion rate of a customer from that advertising and increase your lifetime value of a customer so that they purchase more often on an ongoing basis.

One of the best ways to do that from a marketing perspective is to create owned content, branded content, finding and creating content for your customer that’s above and beyond a purchase decision. What type of content would your customer be looking for to engage with that still fits your brand? The best example of this, the one that’s done it better than anyone is Red Bull. They do content around music and extreme sports and jumping out of space. They’re not selling energy drinks in their content. They’re doing content that engages their audience and knowing that it inherently has created a multibillion-dollar company on the content side as well because they’re able to do so well at nailing the type of content their audience wanted to see.

Drew Neisser: Let me pause you there for a second because I think they’re two different thoughts. I think there is one really interesting thought which is that ROI is declining in digital. I’ve seen this across the board and the irony is that a lot of brands are investing more and more and more in their tech stack to optimize that ROI with some success, but also, they’re investing millions in the martech stack and leaving no dollars for media, which is still crazy in my mind. That’s one aspect of the thing that I think is interesting.

The Red Bull example is unfair for any brand that’s listening to this thing because it’s owned by an eccentric German guy who loves all this stuff and built the brand on the essence of that idea. Now I would say the takeaway there is, yeah, if you have the vision to build a brand around a concept of this notion of wings and doing crazy stuff, then that’s going to work great for you. I think that’s a great point. Let’s just stop for a second and talk about how few brands there are that actually are unique.

Erik Huberman: Yep.

Drew Neisser: That’s one that’s unique. One of the things that we really focus on here is—all these tactics are great, and yes, they can do the job for you in the short term of acquiring customers. What they don’t do necessarily is differentiate your brand. What they don’t do is necessarily help you build something that helps you with the battle for employees, that help you retain. The interesting thing about the worlds that you and I live in, which are overlapping but in some ways very different is that we spend a 100% of our time thinking about brand and uniqueness, whereas a lot of what people hire you to do is the media buying and the tactical stuff that’s at the other end of that. It’s just interesting, right? No client’s going to come to you and say, “Hey, give me a Red Bull.” They’re not in that space.

Erik Huberman: No. But what I would say is that that’s where your and my job comes in, and I think, objectively, we both do a decent job at this, going, “Yeah, I get that you want to run and Facebook ads,” as an example. “You need to start with a plan and a brand first” because there are great examples of this, and the guys that work there are awesome, but you’ve got Honest Company, Dollar Shave Club, and many others like it that hit that low nine-figure revenue mark by doing this direct response digital marketing, and then cap out, and can’t figure out more revenue streams. When you don’t build a brand and an ethos to your product, you’re a direct response. You’re basically the modern version of an as-seen-on-TV product if you’re building it that way.

Drew Neisser: Ginsu knife, baby.

Erik Huberman: Exactly. If you even look at Proactive with all their market saturation, they capped out in the high nine figures. Great business, don’t get me wrong—they sold it to Nestle, they’re very happy with it, they’re great people, but that didn’t elevate past that point to be a brand that’s long-standing like a Coca-Cola or a Red Bull. You want to compare the revenue numbers—the proof’s in the pudding.

You’ve got Proactive which solves the acne problem which so many people deal with. The addressable market has got to be incredibly high, but they never built that overarching brand that caused people to jump into it, versus Coca-Cola, or Red Bull is a great example. You’ve got a health trend in the US. Red Bull has got to be one of the most unhealthy things out there, but they’re a multi-billion-dollar company. Same thing with Coca-Cola, same thing with a lot of these things, and a lot of it is that they built this brand.

People at a young age get into it and stick with it. That’s very hard to find these days. If you look at, what are the variables here that are different? It’s that they’ve built, as you said, a differentiated brand, and a brand above and beyond just “this is a utility, and this is what problem we’re solving.”

Drew Neisser: Yeah. I think one of the other things that is interesting to me, just to mix this conversation up is that I’ve talked to a number of these digital unicorns that have made it to a billion dollars. What’s so interesting is that many of them, like Zoom, which we’re using right now to record this podcast, have built those brands using outdoor. Good old fashioned outdoor. And why? Because it’s not annoying in your inbox, it’s not annoying on your social feeds, and frankly, you can’t avoid it. But also, I think that they had a nice promise, too. “Meet Happy” is an excellent promise and the product delivers, but I think that part of the factor that some of the other brands that you’re finding is that there is a limit to how far digital can take you in many cases because you need awareness. It’s just a reality.

Erik Huberman: You just nailed like five different great points. Number one, when it comes to retail, just to take those statistics, only 20-25% of purchases are done online. The other 70-75% are still done in stores, so the idea of doing everything online from a marketing perspective kind of fits the same boat. People are still in the real world. They’re not all sitting behind the computer all day waiting for you to reach out to them. Don’t get me wrong, digital has an opportunity to be more targeted and can do certain things, but it doesn’t make sense that everything should go there.

Number two, with marketing, the reason outdoor has had a resurgence, and direct mail, by the way, is because everyone stopped using it because they thought digital was a new sexy thing and now here’s an opportunity for cheap customer impression that’s not being competed with. Hitting people in a way that they’re not used to and letting this pendulum swing happen is super important too.

Number three, understanding that if your company, your product, or service isn’t good enough that if you get it in front of the right audience, it’s not going to sell, you’re screwed no matter what you do. Marketing is an enabler here, but like, you have to have something that people actually want. Zoom is a great example. I’ve seen their ads all over airports, like, it’s something people need, so if I see the ad, it’s another reminder that it has to work. If that doesn’t work for their business, their business isn’t going to be successful.

The last point which you jumped on is good product. At the end of the day, marketers can do whatever they can do. If you don’t have a good product you’re screwed, if you have a good product you’ll be fine. That’s really what it comes down to. You can make a lot of mistakes and have a good product, and you’ll be great. You can do everything right, have a terrible product, and nothing is going to work. Good product is at the core of everything we do as well.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. I think that’s an interesting place we can stop for a second and then revisit because I have lots of thoughts on that when we come back. Stay with us.

BREAK

Drew Neisser: We’re back. Erik and I are having this conversation and we just started talking about good product-bad product. One of the things that I wanted to mention here, because it’s interesting, we’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately for a lot of different companies that we’re doing brand assignments with, and the question is, how far can we, as a strategic boutique, go in saying “Hey, you know what? Your product isn’t good enough.”

Erik Huberman: Sure.

Drew Neisser: What’s interesting is that—and I’ve told my team—there is no limit to what we can say there because, as we’ve talked about, there’s nothing like great marketing to kill a bad product. The other part of it is not just that one of the ways of disrupting with a new promise—and I’ll give you a couple of examples of this—is by making a change, either for the better—fixing a problem—or adding something new.

I had Jennifer Deutsch of Park Place Technologies on the show, you know, not necessarily the most interesting category—they make servers. They manage server farms and warranties and the only thing that they figured that matters is that it’s all about uptime. They had this promise, “It’s all about uptime,” but when they went to market with this new promise, they also added an AI component that automatically figured out when a server was about to go down. In other words, they could make this promise and add an additional product.

A slightly different example is when I interviewed Dave Edelman from Aetna before they relaunched their campaign “You don’t join us, we join you.” They spent six months retraining their customer service teams so they could actually deliver on a new promise. A lot of times, I’ve seen CMOs not succeed because they sort of accepted the product or service that they had as what it was, and this is all you’ve got. If I were to throw some advice out to them it’s, as the CMO, given how little time that you have, courage is your friend. Lack of courage is going to be your doom, and when it comes to being courageous, that means saying, “You know what? Our product isn’t good enough. It doesn’t represent a vision that we can tell a great story about.”

You mentioned Dollar Shave Club. What they had going for them was that they were the first of their kind in that area. They had the product and maybe what they found in addition to the marketing challenge is the limitations of the fact that there were only so many people that were going to buy…

Erik Huberman: Well no, I think—Yes, so I worked closely with them for a long time and that video created that company.

Drew Neisser: One video. That’s amazing.

Erik Huberman: Which is incredible. With a great value proposition, the product was, let’s say, middle of the road. But that was part of the problem, their churn was not great and their acquisition after that video was saturated was really difficult. To sell a customer in a profitable way for a company that averaged $4-$5 per client per month because there were upsells and all that. It’s really really really hard to do digitally.

We talk about it all the time with our customers. We also have a venture arm and we do a lot of investing. Our best investment, we did a digital launch, got a little bit of feedback, and then went right for brick and mortar in terms of the products they’re creating. In their first year, it did almost $30 million in revenue because Target and Walmart are still very good partners to a product company. A lot of these digital companies and are finding that out, but it’s taking them four, five, six years to make that decision, which a lot of times, now they’re starting all over again trying to build the brand in retail, when they, frankly, back to the statistics we use, cut off 75% of their potential revenue streams by not being in brick and mortar.

Drew Neisser: I can add a sort of corollary to that. It may seem hard to connect the dots, but the fact is that a lot of shopping is no different than the attendance at a tradeshow and going to events. It was funny, I had Ann Lewnes on the show, the episode hasn’t gone live yet, but she admitted on the show that when she first took the job at Adobe, she looked at all the money they were spending on events, and she said “Wait, why are we doing this? This is a digital world; we should be spending all the money on digital.” Then she went to a couple of events and she said, “I got that wrong.” If we had our friend Brian Kramer on the phone, he’d say “Well, that’s because it’s all about human-to-human and physical interactions still matter.”

Erik Huberman: It’s funny you say that. We host 30 events a year as a mostly digital marketing company. We host 30 events a year, one annual summit that Adobe is actually a sponsor for.

Drew Neisser: There you go.

Erik Huberman: They were one of the easiest people to work with to get as a partner on it because, yeah, the in-person interaction can’t be ignored. That doesn’t mean digital is not valuable. It’s just both. That’s where people get confused a lot, I think.

You made a point a few minutes ago that I think is really important to get into. As a marketing partner, how direct can you be about whether a product is good or not? The way we always handle that is by trying to be as objective as possible. We try not to be gatekeepers and be like, “I don’t like that product so it’s not good,” because maybe I’m wrong. Instead, we’ll market something, and we’ll check every box that traditionally works. We’ll do the right ads, we’ll target the right people, we’ll set up the right funnels, we’ll build everything right.

Then at some point, if we’ve checked every box and the product’s still not selling, there aren’t many variables left other than people just don’t want your product. That’s what we try to do because, frankly, I think it’s a disservice to try to gauge that ahead of time unless we have an incredible amount of experience in exactly that product and go, “No, no, no. We tried this exact product, and nobody cares.”

But then timing is a factor too, so that’s really hard to articulate without new data. Once we have a few months of testing, then we can actually discern whether people actually even care about the product or not.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. We actually take a bolder approach when we’re doing our assessment because it’s part of the expectation when we do our discovery. We’re probably spending a lot more time as well because these folks are coming to us and saying “Hey, our brand isn’t right. Our architecture’s wrong. Our naming is wrong. We just know that our whole go-to-market strategy isn’t quite holding together the way we want it to.”

What you want to make sure of, and in the research that we do, is that you’re finding the kernels of what is the essence of the brand, but also where the shortcomings are or where the opportunities for upside are. I mentioned the additional service. It’s interesting—we did some work with one company, we talked to a bunch of their customers, and what we noticed was that the customers that had the highest satisfaction had an additional analytics module and the ones that didn’t have it weren’t happy.

They were charging extra for this module that was in fact the single most easy way for the customer to realize how much value they were getting out of their product. That’s an example of where we said, “You know what? You’re cutting off your nose to spite your face there. You should just bundle that in there because that’s your insurance policy. That is showing people the value of your organization.” It’s an interesting thing, so it wasn’t as much a product problem as it was a situation where somebody called it bad profits. Jim Collins, I think, talked about bad profits, and this is a case where sometimes there are.

This speaks back to the thing that you mentioned at the very beginning—the advantage of having someone on the outside who isn’t beholden to you. This is one of the differences I love about brand consulting versus agency work—we’re getting hired to be really honest and we don’t care if we execute or not.

Erik Huberman: Also, you’re not going to lose your job. You might lose your client, but you’re not beholden to one client, generally, so you can be bold. I’d rather tell a client something they don’t want to hear and see long term success than just hang on to a client that’s not going to succeed.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, that never works.

Erik Huberman: We’re in it for the long run and we have a reputation to maintain, so just like you’ve been doing this for a long time, we don’t want to just collect a check and do whatever they say that we’re going to do. We’re going to push back, and we’re going to say things because the nice thing is, as we mentioned, we have 450 clients—our biggest clients are less than 2% of our revenue, so if we have to do the right thing, and that’s actually one of our core values, to do the right thing. If we have to do that in spite of making the client happy, we will.

Drew Neisser: All right. We’ve got a few minutes left and we’ve got to pull this together with some real pearls so that the folks listening who are driving to work or walking to work or riding to work or whatever it is, their way home, it gets them really crystal clear. Sometimes I ask my guest two dos and one don’t. Maybe we’ll take turns. You do your two dos and a don’t, and I’ll come up with two while you’re doing your thing.

Erik Huberman: I would say the number one thing, regardless of seniority in marketing, that I see people glaze over is—always remember that a marketing campaign takes three pieces: awareness, nurturing, trust. Meaning, creating new awareness for whatever it is you’re selling so you get top of the funnel, nurturing that awareness to a sale because people just convert once they’re aware, and then building trust, because 75% of people through an Edelman survey say that they won’t buy a product from a company they don’t inherently trust. Somehow building that trust and checking all three boxes in every campaign you do, or you will miss out.

You mentioned the tech stack side. That’s only nurturing if you’re building a tech stack, that’s generally not building awareness. You’re maximizing your existing awareness, but you’re not building any growth. That’s the nugget that I would say on dos and don’ts: make sure that you do all three of those and you don’t miss one.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. I can put those in a slightly different frame. This notion of awareness and it mattering—Byron Sharp has written about this at length—how brands grow. I’ve seen it more and more and more, and there’s a sense, even in the B2B world, while the only people that matter are the few decision-makers there, what’s so interesting is that you don’t even get in the door if you haven’t been heard of. You’re just invisible. You need more awareness than you think. In B2B that is really true because now there are ten plus people on the decision and they come from all these different worlds.

It’s a big challenge to build awareness, but it really matters. And building awareness is not as simple as spending a certain amount of money against a group of people. This is where you need to be artful in your communication because let’s face it, we’re all bombarded. Building awareness means A: doing something unique, B: doing it consistently in every single communication channel—and we really hammer this home—there’s got to be one idea because otherwise, it splinters.

Another do is that the importance of consistency here is so underrated in the digital marketing world because you can optimize for every little thing. You optimize for response rate and you might leave your brand behind. The problem with that is this: you get your committee together, your buying committee together, you have your CIO, your security guy, your lawyer guy, your procurement guy, maybe an operations person, maybe even an HR, and some risk management, I mean, this committee list keeps going on and on. Let’s say you optimize for each of those individuals, and you say, “Well the lawyer, they care about these risk factors, and the security guy, well he cares…” When they get together, if they don’t feel a common story, they can’t come to an agreement.

Erik Huberman: I love that metaphor. It’s so true.

Drew Neisser: So, yes, awareness, but you build awareness through an artful message that is consistently delivered wherever you are doing it. That sounds easy, but it’s really not. This is why there is still creativity and creative agencies like ours that can help you get to ideas that are big enough, a large enough tent, if you will, to come up with sub-ideas that still bring the big message home. When it works, when you see it—and we’ve got some clients that are doing it, over and over again in different channels, slightly different expressions, against employees, customers, and prospects—it’s unbelievably effective and it’s ridiculously simple. All right. Any last words? Erik, it’s been fun talking to you. Hey, great conversation, and to all of my listeners out there, I hope you found this interesting, and I know that you’ll text me if you didn’t. As always, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.

Quotes from Erik Huberman

A marketing campaign takes three pieces: awareness, nurturing, and trust.
People are still in the real world. They're not all sitting by the computer all day waiting for you to reach out to them. Don't get me wrong, digital has an opportunity to be more targeted, and can do certain things, but it doesn't make sense that everything should go there.

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