In this episode of the B2B Digitized Podcast, you’ll be introduced to Cynthia Terpstra, who is Head of Marketing at ReadyWorks. Cynthia will share her thoughts on B2B marketing and working in everything B2B from Fortune 500 companies to startups. 

Cynthia is an award-winning marketing leader with a record of increasing brand recognition and customer acquisition via multi-channel demand generation and lead generation campaigns. She has created marketing strategies for industry-leading B2B companies (SaaS, IoT, & Telecom), B2C, and non-profits. Cynthia is passionate about delighting customers at every stage of the relationship – from the first touch to evangelist.

Listen to the full episode of the B2B Digitized Podcast to learn more about:

    • Filling gaps with freelancers and agencies to leverage expertise
    • Getting your content discovered by prospects
    • Grabbing opportunities to take a fresh approach to marketing
    • Learning from outside your industry to spark creativity
    • Prioritizing content based on conversations with customers
    • Understanding your customers and understanding their needs

Watch the Podcast Interview


Watch on YouTube: Cynthia Terpstra, Head of Marketing at ReadyWorks (B2B Digitized Podcast)

Listen to the Podcast Interview


Cynthia has advice on getting started in B2B digital marketing:

“I'm a firm believer that it all starts with the customer. It all starts with really listening to them, really understanding who they are, what problem are they trying to solve, what are their pain points, and how would their work-life improve if you could eliminate those pain points, where do they get their information, who do they trust to make their decisions, and how you want to engage with them. It really starts there. You have to get to know that customer, understand what makes them tick, understand why they would even need your solution, but start with listening.” 

Cynthia also talked about building a marketing team:

“When you're part of a large team, you have more to draw on and more resources to lean on, and you can build a deeper bench. Still, the thrill of being a small company is being a new entrant to the market, creating something out of nothing, creating a new category or products or services, and figuring out how you're going to do that—starting small, building from there, and leveraging what you've got. There's a lot of appeal to that for me.”

Cynthia also shared why it’s important to shift the conversation:

“Everybody wants the quick sale, the quick conversation, and doing that kind of research is there. If you take the time to, again, get to know your customer and see how they're consuming your content and what seems to be important to them, it changes the shape of the conversation. They don't see it as a sales pitch” 

All of this and more is discussed in this episode of the B2B Digitized Podcast. To learn more about Cynthia Terpstra and contact her with any questions about the topics discussed, you can find her on LinkedIn or at ReadyWorks.

Lightly Edited Transcript

Joshua Feinberg: Hi, it's Joshua Feinberg from the B2B Digitized Podcast, and I have with me today a very special guest and good friend, Cynthia Terpstra, who is head of marketing at ReadyWorks. Cynthia, welcome to the podcast.

Cynthia Terpstra: Thank you, Joshua. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Joshua Feinberg: You’re very welcome and thank you for coming on the show. The first place I think it would be super helpful to start is to give a little bit about your background of how you ended up in your current role leading marketing at ReadyWorks, what ReadyWorks does, and what were some of the prior steps along your career journey that got you to where you are?

Cynthia Terpstra: Okay, sure. I spent most of my career in B2B marketing, starting with a communications company, AT&T, and working in everything B2B from Fortune 500 companies to startups, to kind of everything in between. So really, that’s my background in B2B, but I've also worked in B2C and some nonprofit work as well. I've also worked in every functional area in marketing, such as product marketing, content strategy, digital marketing, and PR, ultimately putting it all together to drive the demand gen and lead gen campaign. So taking all those different functional areas, putting them together, and then having something that drives revenue for companies.

Having that background led me to ReadyWorks, and I discovered that I enjoy working for SaaS companies over the last several years. It was one of those things that I didn't realize how much I enjoyed it until I thought about it, and I'm a problem solver by nature. So working with a company that has a solution to tackle a problem that everybody's facing in their real life, their daily work life, really appeals to me. So that's kind of how I ended up at ReadyWorks, and I have been enjoying that team.

Joshua Feinberg: That's terrific. What I found is super interesting too, is when you think about the nature of the problems that you tackle on a marketing team and a relatively small company that's got a few dozen employees, compared to a Fortune 1000 with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of employees, there are business problems you're solving, but they have a different context. I've had a similar experience working with some huge Fortune 1000 companies earlier on in my career and startups a little more recently. How has that changed your outlook of being able to see both sides of the puzzle, depending on whether it's a huge marketing organization or a marketing team of one or just in the single digits?

Cynthia Terpstra: It's funny. When you're part of a large team, you have more to draw on and more resources to lean on, and you can build a deeper bench. Still, the thrill of being a small company is being a new entrant to the market, creating something out of nothing, creating a new category or products or services, and figuring out how you're going to do that—starting small, building from there, and leveraging what you've got. There's a lot of appeal to that for me, and it still comes down to how do you build that team and how do you work with what you've got, taking what you know, and you can do well, how do you bring in additional resources?

For example, freelancers or agencies can fill some of those gaps, that even if you have the skill set to do it, it's impossible to do it all. So you have to leverage that expertise. You have to know who to go to help build that team as you continue to grow.

Joshua Feinberg: That's an excellent explanation too, of thinking of, yes, it's good to play all of the different positions, but it's not all -- you take like a baseball team, for example. They have the concept of a super-utility player who can play six or seven different positions, but the key thing is that they can't play all six or seven positions. If the second baseman is on the injured list and covering there, they will not be an effective emergency catcher or a center fielder.

Cynthia Terpstra: Exactly, exactly, and knowing where you can be that utility player and the analogy you gave is great. When do you say, okay, this is the role I'm playing today, and here's who I can leverage to do those other things in building that roster of star players who can help you win the game if we’re going to use a baseball analogy.

Joshua Feinberg: You never know what happens. Our hometown baseball team, best of intentions. I think four or five of their star players are, in one shape or form, injured. So you have the old farm system, which had a challenge last year with the whole minor league system being shut down. 

One of the big areas I wanted to ask you about is when you think about your career experience when somebody approaches you early on in their career, and they're just getting into B2B digital. Maybe you know them from your professional network. Maybe it's someone that's an alumnus from your school that was introduced, and they reach out to you. They’re looking for advice on what they should be thinking about earlier on in their career to get into B2B digital marketing.

Cynthia Terpstra: I'm a firm believer that it all starts with the customer. It all starts with really listening to them, really understanding who they are, what problem are they trying to solve, what are their pain points, and how would their work-life improve if you could eliminate those pain points, where do they get their information, who do they trust to make their decisions, and how you want to engage with them. It really starts there. You have to get to know that customer, understand what makes them tick, understand why they would even need your solution, but start with listening.

I think that's something that's become a lost art form in many areas of our lives today, but it's crucial. It’s so important because if you don't start there, and if you don't understand the customer and you don't listen to what they're telling you, all the tactics in the world aren't going to help you. They're all going to fall flat.

Joshua Feinberg: The thing is, everyone today is looking for a quick fix. Come on; there’s got to be an app that allows you to just get all of the customer insight and magically figure out the whole go-to-market strategy. It reminds me of The Lean Startup that there are no answers in the building. No matter how much you whiteboard and brainstorm and kick that around internally, maybe between marketing and sales and customer success and product, you can figure out like 20, 25% of it. Still, marketplaces are so much more intelligent than we are, and many times, they'll help us figure out where our shortcomings are.

Cynthia Terpstra: Yeah, and it changes. Look how much has changed in the past year. Everybody had to pivot, and if you're not listening to your customers and not asking them the questions and probing to understand a little bit more of the day in the life for them. You’re not going to come up with the marketing tactics you need to help solve the problem for that, but you also may miss an opportunity. Something you never even considered that might give you pause and say, "You know what, let's pivot. Let's try something different." It wasn't even in your headspace, but those kinds of things come out in the conversations.

Joshua Feinberg: That's a huge one. A lot of times, when I'm working with entrepreneurs that have a startup, and they may think they're getting closer to product-market fit. However, they’re still trying to figure out go-to-market fit and product-market fit, and they're like, "Well, walk me through what a typical timeline looks like. Walk me through what expectations look like."

I'm like, "Look, if you get this content and thought leadership thing right, the first priority is to get more closed deals." And then everyone in sales always says the second-best answer is no, but there's a fascinating thing that I find that happens in this space too, where people can say, "I love what your company is about. I love the content that you're putting out there. Look, let me give you the inside track here. There's one feature that you're missing, and if your product team can go back and build this, I'm signed up like yesterday, and I have five buddies in similar companies." So I think what a lot of people miss out on in startups is really good content marketing. Really good thought leadership actually helps them figure out many times the customer insight because, essentially, the early customers help them become product consultants.

Cynthia Terpstra: Oh, we see that all the time.  We continue to refine that based on the need they brought to us and continue to enhance the product. Still, as you mentioned, also the content strategy, where we start, and then the more presentations, the more conversations we have with customers, understanding, you know what, it might be a little different than we thought or maybe the opportunity isn't here, it's over here. So it's that constant refinement. Refining what you have, and then also listening to say, maybe this is a new opportunity. We should be talking about this because this is a real-world situation they're dealing with, and they need content that helps them solve that.

So you kind of then reprioritize. I know I'm constantly reprioritizing what content is next on deck to get produced based on these conversations that we have with our customers. So it's a balancing act between the SEO opportunity to get yourself discovered and get your website discovered versus what customers are looking for at the moment that maybe Google hasn't caught up to. So it's a balancing act at all times.

Joshua Feinberg: It's so much more than just a shifting dynamic of people doing so much more research online and not wanting to talk to the sales teams until they're 60, 70, 80% of the way. It's getting the leadership to see just how much value marketing can add, not only in the early stages of the journey but also throughout sales enablement, customer marketing, post onboarding, and product marketing. It is such a key driver with digital transformation.

Cynthia Terpstra: Oh, absolutely, and it's funny. I think many of us have heard the stats, but I saw it again just recently where B2B customers will consume, I've heard, up to thirteen pieces of content before they even want to engage with your sales team. Of that thirteen, eight are created in-house or created by you to push out to your site for customers. Then five of the thirteen is content that's discovered on third-party sites. So again, it's just so important to have that information and have it available at the right time, at the right place, when your customer is actively looking for that kind of solution, or they didn't even realize there was a solution to their problem. So making sure that content gets discovered in the background when they didn't even realize, and they're reading about something else, and then it pops up in their feed, and they're like, "Hey, wait, what's that? What do you mean that I can do this?"

Joshua Feinberg: I think, too, marketing can play a crucial role in reprogramming sales professionals to deal with all of this. Because if you're a salesperson, where you have access to a platform like HubSpot, and you can go in and see every single blog post that they've read, every email that they've opened and clicked on, the webinars they've attended, the videos they've watched. If you're going to a sales appointment, take five or ten minutes to use the X-ray vision. I always say there's explicit stuff that they've told you.

They know they've told you their first, last, and email, the company size, and a few other things like that, but then there's all this great behavioral data that really can help weave a story. It's not like, what are the buttons to push, but like, what are they struggling with beyond what they told you about themselves? It's similar to if you look at someone's LinkedIn profile, and you see patterns of the kind of content they've shared in the last couple of weeks or the events they've attended.

Cynthia Terpstra: That is so important. I'm so glad you brought that up because you see that all the time. Everybody wants the quick sale, the quick conversation, and doing that kind of research is there. If you take the time to, again, get to know your customer and see how they're consuming your content and what seems to be important to them, it changes the shape of the conversation. They don't see it as a sales pitch, and okay, here we go, Mr. Salesman. What are you trying to sell me, wait a minute, you get it, you understand what I'm up against, tell me more. And that's just so important in shifting the conversation.

Joshua Feinberg: It is getting them out of the sales role, all the negative stereotypes people have about sales professionals—getting them out of the vendor box and into more of that doctor-patient relationship, where they're seen as a consultant and educator, and subject matter expert. When sales teams embrace it, it's awesome. When sales teams are fighting it in this day and age, it's painful to watch. I talk about the importance of getting the CEO on board, so this trickles from the top down. It’s way more practical in a company with a few dozen employees than it is in a company with tens of thousands of employees. It’s probably more a division director or some kind of executive sponsor that rolls up, but these are significant cultural changes.

Cynthia Terpstra: It's funny, and you see it all the time. We've all gotten the sales pitches. My emails flooded daily with the pitches. The good ones will work. The other ones where it's just, again, going for that quick pitch, not taking the time to understand who this customer is and why they may have even come to you in the first place. You miss so many opportunities there.

Joshua Feinberg: That's excellent advice for someone that's just getting started in B2B. What about somebody that's been doing B2B marketing for 10 or 20 years and maybe the last year has been hard on them, their company? Maybe there was a lot of turnover on their team, a lot of churn among customers, and they're feeling a sense of burnout. What would you do to help a peer or colleague like that who has reached out to you looking for advice on helping them to recharge the batteries?

Cynthia Terpstra: Honestly, I'd say it's a lot of the same advice. It starts with listening. It starts with reacquainting yourself with your customer. Even if you've been doing this a long time, as you said, sometimes you get to a certain point where you're so engrossed in the tactics, and you're so engrossed in the analytics, you forget who the customer is. They’ve just become a number, and you forget what it's like to have a conversation with them and hear them, talk about what their work life is like, and where you fit into that puzzle, and what are some of the things that they're considering that maybe they weren't considering in the beginning. There’s just so much that you can pick up on in these conversations.

Not only in terms of your marketing strategies, but those aha moments, and I'm a firm believer that there's so much to learn outside of your industry and so much to take away from other experiences that you may think never are relevant to what you're doing, but they are, or it's just that spark of creativity that you weren't planning on, that comes out of nowhere because you were listening. You were paying attention and thinking about things differently than you did before.

So kind of taking that mental break and coming at it maybe from a different angle than you’ve been doing it before. So I think, again, those basics of really listening are so important. I think the other thing is that marketing has shifted so much in this day and age. It's become so sophisticated; it’s so specialized. So, again, back to our analogy earlier, you can't do it all. You cannot be an expert on everything now in marketing.

You're an SEO expert, you're an advertising expert or your content creation expert, or maybe you're an analytics person. So again, try to learn as much as you can, try to understand how the pieces work together, but then leverage the expertise of people who have gone deep in each of these topics and learn how to put together an excellent team to be effective.

Joshua Feinberg: I think it's fantastic insight, especially for startups where the role is like, somewhere between the general manager of a sports team and a portfolio manager, where you're trying to make sure that they're not overweighted in one area. For baseball fans, imagine if all your payroll was concentrated in the bullpen and your bench players. So the pitchers that would start the games, you’re relying on minor league talent. It’s the same thing with people swinging the bat.

So it's the same thing with a portfolio where people tend to have more aggressive portfolios when they're in their 20s and just starting out, and as they get closer to retirement, it tends to become more conservative. So it's like, okay, how do you decide how much to put into content versus SEO, versus search, versus paid social, paid search, conversion rate optimization, website building, brand building, field marketing. I was just reminded yesterday, people are starting to pound the table on events again, and a lot of B2B tech companies, 40% of budgets go to conferences.

Cynthia Terpstra: It's so funny. We had to think of things differently in the past year. With everybody working remotely and not having in-person events, it was fun to see how many different sizes and shapes and industries got creative and were still creating customer experiences and having some fun with it. So we're going to have a more small intimate gathering, and maybe we're going to do a wine and cheese tasting.

Send out those kinds of things to the customers in advance, and make it a little more fun. I think to a certain degree, people appreciated that because it was different. We all get, as you said, a certain amount of burnout at a certain stage. So, again, looking for a different way of doing things, where people say, "Oh, we're going to go old school. We have to go back to doing it this way." Well, it's because we all get burnt out at a certain point, and we all recognize the marketing tactics for what they are, and they become so overused at a certain point that you're like, ugh. You just start to tune it out. So I think there's a lot of great opportunities there if you're just willing to take that fresh approach and listen to your customers and other folks who are out there and see how you can do things a little bit differently.

Joshua Feinberg: I think keeping it fresh, keeping it relevant is so critical to stand out, to differentiate, to compete for attention. Like when I hear people make blanket statements like, "Email marketing is dead,” or “Webinars are oversaturated,” or whatever, it's like yeah, because in the year we are in right now, you're not innovative by being the first one on your block to have a good, segmented, email-nurturing campaign or have a good effective webinar program, but they still largely work. The key thing is the messaging, the value of the segmentation, and understanding what helps someone instead of helping yourself. That's the whole like, all the time listening to the “what's in it for me?” channel.

Cynthia Terpstra: Yeah, always be helpful. Always be listening, always be helpful. When it comes down to execution, you can take the same tactic, and you can see it work well because it was executed well, or you can see it fall flat on its face. Again, how you put it together, how it relates to your customer versus how can I just spend something, get it out there quickly, and hope it works. It's like, do it right. It's better to take a moment and think it through and do it right than to just rush to get it done and onto the next thing or the easiest, fastest approach possible.

Joshua Feinberg: How does your approach with a lot of this change depending on whether you're building out a strategy for early stages, like awareness stage prospects versus people that are more in the middle of the funnel, middle of their journey, into consideration, and then in the later decision stages? Do you find that many of the companies you work with have an appreciation for those differences, and how do you tend to come at all that?

Cynthia Terpstra: I think you still have to look at the buyer's journey, the different stages of content creation, what you're going to do for them, and the different touchpoints. But then also recognize it's not a linear path that customers. It's a very squirrelly kind of a path as they go through, and they consume content, and then they circle back. Not to mention B2B is a long sales cycle. It can be anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on your industry and what you're doing. So you have to keep creating content that they want to come back for, even if it's not immediately.

The fact that they know that you're a trusted provider of the content, that what you're giving them is helpful, and helps them understand what you offer a little bit better, they'll come back. And so constantly getting that out there. Again, so in the awareness stage, if you were creating the content, you have to put it out there on your own site and make sure you're using the very best in terms of SEO strategies to make sure the content is discovered, but also putting that content out there when they're not actively searching for it. Still, it pops up in their feed or on a site that they go to regularly for consuming content.

Then I think; also, it's about creating that content in multiple different formats. So right now, people are overwhelmed with a lot of content. They know it's out there, they know there are tons of resources they can go to, but sometimes they have the time to dive deep into it and research and understand it. Other times, they're looking for that quick format that they can consume quickly. So having the content available in a video, in a podcast, and then, of course, written content, it all works together, and you're putting it out there.

So you're offering it on their terms, offering it how they consume it the way they want to when they're ready to. So I think continuing to develop all that and make sure that's available is very important. Then, of course in the middle stages, pushing a little bit further with information that digs a little deeper and helps them understand how others may be using the product or service, to then the later stage where you're giving them those details, not only in terms of the specific product details but also helping them understand how you compare to any competitors if there are any competitors in the space.

So again, things like third-party reviews on review sites are critical, getting analysts to recognize your solution, getting others to talk about your solution -- all very important in the buyer's journey. The other thing, too, I like to say that gets overlooked a lot is the delight stage. I know other folks call it that as well, but it gets overlooked so often. Everybody, again, they're just pushing things out, hoping to land marketing qualified leads, the sales, all that. Still, you're creating that customer experience from the very, very, very first touch through long after the sale. What are you like to do business with?

Are you creating the content after you've made the sale that helps them onboard quickly? Do you help them navigate your product, make it easy for them to use it? Are you giving them additional things that may extend into other areas of what they're trying to tackle for their business, and are you measuring that? Are you using a net promoter score to see how they feel about what it's like to do business with your company? Because understanding that, sharing that with your organization, having the conversations around what feedback you get from that is so critical into understanding how you continue to refine everything you do as a marketer, and then using that to say, "Hey, we have someone who has been just delighted with everything that we've been doing, in terms of how we've been servicing them."

That becomes a great opportunity to ask them to provide a review on a site, to do a testimonial to talk about your product or service with their peers. I think referrals are so important, and we get that, and we have happy customers who enjoy working with us. They tell their peers from different industries. We all trust that, and who are you going to trust? Somebody you've never met that does very well in terms of popping up on a search engine, or somebody you respect in your field, who says, "You know what? This has been a great experience working for this company. Not only did they have the product that met my needs, but man, every conversation I had with them, from the CEO down to the project manager helping me onboard, has been so positive. They're so easy to work with. Their attention to detail is so important." That’s what gets them coming back and gets them to share that story with other customers.

Joshua Feinberg: That's terrific. One of the interesting things with SaaS companies that I've leaned on more heavily the last couple of years too is not only the formal reviews on the sites, on the review sites but drafting those same people, at least the ones that are interested, to come on podcasts and to be on webinar panels. So not only are they providing positive social proof, but they're helping to become subject matter experts and thought leaders and co-marketing as an extension of your company. There are varying degrees of enthusiasm for helping to spread that content.

Beyond that, in some cases, their marketing teams will heavily announce and promote that that client is going to be on a webinar panel with you on their social media. Some of them will write blog posts about it. I've seen some cases where they even treat it as similar to PR, where they put it in a blog post and like a media mention, but I’ve found it’s an interesting social proof opportunity as well.

Cynthia Terpstra: Absolutely. We were getting ready to launch a few recorded webinars with our customers. Who do you want to hear from? Do you want to hear from the customer who used this to solve a problem and talk about their experience, or do you want to hear a sales pitch? Having that customer be able to talk about it is so important. It is so meaningful beyond what we can do. Not everything we do as a marker, of course, and has value, but again, it's just that third party credibility, that's everything. So getting every single touchpoint right with a customer is critical because that's how you get to that final stage.

Joshua Feinberg: Look at when you're planning your live events when you're planning your webinars. There’s like two report card kinds of things going on: the landing page and the promotional materials that you're using to drive the registrations is very analogous to putting in an application to speak at a conference where you have the show manager in the advisory committee that's vetting your background and vetting your slides because they certainly want to make sure that you're providing value and that it's not going to be a pitch.

Then the second part of that is, we used to tell people to imagine that you want your webinar to be so valuable that if it was at a big conference, that there's no doubt in your mind that people would hit the mobile app afterward. You would have one of the highest-rated sessions in the entire conference out of dozens and dozens of sessions that are there. So there's no doubt in your mind that you're going to get invited back next year. The analogy is like, the surveys, the polling responses, how many people are receptive to your CTA, but there are so many parallels there, as people don't want to attend an infomercial; they want to learn.

Cynthia Terpstra: Absolutely. The more you build a reputation for being that kind of person, that kind of company, providing that useful content, the more they're going to come back because they trust you. They know that you're trying to help. So that's a great insight.

Joshua Feinberg: It's interesting, too, is when people are relatively new to doing webinars, there's a lot of anxiety and like, am I going to do this the right way? What mistakes should I avoid? I always say, "Okay, if you have a 60-minute webinar, and you look down, and the average session time, in the end, was 20 minutes, something was messed up." If you look down, and the average person stayed 57 minutes, you did great. Because, unlike a physical event, there's nothing remotely rude about someone just exiting out and leaving. If you turn someone off and feel like they're wasting their time, it's just so much higher of a bar to provide value and keep people's attention.

Cynthia Terpstra: Yeah, absolutely.

Joshua Feinberg: What do you see as some of the more significant mistakes, or what do you think is the biggest mistake you see people making with their B2B marketing playbook?

Cynthia Terpstra: I think if I had to wrap it up under one umbrella, I'd say trying everything at once. I think you have to start with what you can manage and manage that well. Build from there. We have so many tools and so much technology available to us today, but you can't do everything at once and do it well. Start what you can manage, start with the basics, and go from there. It's funny how often I see the basics overlooked. Start with your ideal customer profile. You can't be everything to everyone. So who is your buyer? Who has the greatest need for your solution? How does your company fit into that equation? What's the best fit for your company? Is it a small enterprise? Is it a large enterprise? Is it a specific vertical?

Understand that ideal customer profile. Spell it out, give it some thought, and then, of course, circle back with that constantly to say, "Were we right, or is there a whole other audience we hadn't even considered?" Because that happens all the time. You think you know, and then all of a sudden, some other customers come along, and you say, "Well, this is interesting. We didn't think there would be as much of a need over here, but it turns out there is.”

So, again, always be listening, always be watching out for those kinds of signals. I think, again, some of the basics are getting things in order. Look at your website. Look at what you're doing from a digital perspective. Make sure everything is spot on. So, when you're looking at your website, is it easy to navigate? Are visitors hanging out to learn more by spending more time on the site? Are they coming back? Are they just kind of a one-trick pony? They come in; they come out. Maybe you got their attention the first time, but then that's the last you ever hear from them.

Test your website and make sure that it renders correctly across all the browsers, all the devices, all the basic kinds of technical things that, shockingly, get overlooked all the time. It looks good in one browser, and then you test it somewhere else, and things aren't working correctly, or it doesn't work on mobile, whatever. Just make sure you get those basics right because, again, it's all about that customer experience and what's their first impression of you.

Have a consistent tone of voice from one page to another, to different blog posts. Keeping it all together and making them feel like this is a good experience for them. Again, as you build on the basics and what it can do, having a good content strategy. We talked about that before, but give them helpful information, give them something that they're going to want to come back for, and then give it to them in multiple formats. I mentioned video before, but it's interesting, 

I saw an article just the other day that mentioned that 68% of folks want to watch videos. That's their number one preferred format of content. In addition, the article mentioned that sites that include that video are 50 times more likely to rank in organic search results than sites that don't have that. Again, why? Because people want to consume video content. Google knows that, and they're going to push the pages that have video higher in the rankings than the pages that do not.

So that becomes so important. Think about your social media. Are you the person who just talks about themselves all the time at a party, or are you pushing out educational content that's helpful, that's meant to help people understand how they can solve a problem, or even just fun? Get them to know a little more about your organization, get to know them, engage with them. Then as you build more tactics, things like advertising, don't try to do everything at once. Start with one or two channels.

Make sure you refine it, make sure you see -- is your audience spot on, who you're going after, what's working, do you need to kind of change the mix of which channels you're advertising on, and then how do you grow from there? So don't try to tackle everything at once, but start small and continue to grow as you start to see the results and you start to understand what's working and what's not working.

Joshua Feinberg: I think that's where the customer insight, the buyer persona research, can be so helpful in narrowing down the shortlist; otherwise, you just constantly get these random requests all the time, like, "Hey, how come we're not doing anything on Clubhouse?" "Well, we just refreshed our buyer persona research three weeks ago, and not one person out of 15 we looked at mentioned Clubhouse. So maybe we'll look at it again in another six months," but get the basics first. Let's get the tried and true YouTube podcasting stuff that we know they did mention working, and then we'll circle back to that. "Should we be on TikTok?"

Cynthia Terpstra: Whatever fits your audience. Exactly. What's the right fit for your buyer persona, and candidly, the decision-makers are going to be different versus other folks in the organization. So make sure you understand the person who's the influencer, the person who's the decision-maker, and the folks in between, and make sure you're speaking and marketing to those personas correctly. You're going to market differently to a CIO than you're going to market to a program manager. So make sure you understand that, make sure you've mapped out which tactics and messaging align with each and go from there.

It's so critical, plus, let's face it, we all have budgets. So you can't be effective in tackling everything at once if you're still living within a budget. Great if you have millions of dollars to throw at something. Of course, that makes it easier, but the real world is that most of us are working within a budget. So if you’re very intentional with your spending and everything you do, it's critical. See what works and continues to grow and continue to evolve, but be realistic with what you can manage, both from a financial perspective and from a team perspective.

Joshua Feinberg: It's always such a challenging conversation too with companies that are new to content to get them to see that like, this ebook or this webinar that we're doing, it’s doing well now, but there's a really good chance that people are still going to get a lot of value from downloading or watching this recording like six, 12, 18, 24 months out. So if you're trying to figure out what the ROI is going to be three days or three weeks after the launch, you're completely missing the fact that a typical company that's all in on content marketing gets 80 or 90% of its leads from things they can do that month.

Cynthia Terpstra: Yeah. We say that all the time in our company. It's quality over quantity. One meaningful lead that aligns with your buyer persona and has a genuine need for your product is better than 500 leads that don't. Make it meaningful, make it valuable for both sides -- for both the customers and for the company. Make sure it's a good fit, make sure it's a good marriage, and think of it that way. Not just how much can we drive, but how much value can we provide, and how do we grow in a meaningful way?

Joshua Feinberg: I spent so much time talking about like LTV, not as much a CAC, about the cost of acquisition that early on in startups, because in a lot of cases, you're still just running a lot of experiments, but the size of the average deal that they envisioned being able to close, and how long that customer sticks, and what the expansion is drives such an amount. It influences the potential for where you can make the investments versus not. If you're managing a SaaS company that's selling something on their website for $19 a month or something like that, you better be able to run something that looks a lot more like e-commerce than selling to mid-market or enterprise companies with five-figure six-figure deals.

Cynthia Terpstra: Exactly.

Joshua Feinberg: Cynthia, when you think about where we are right now, when you look at what's going on, and you think ahead within an 18 month, 24-month time horizon, where do you think we're headed next?

Cynthia Terpstra: From a technology perspective, we will continue to use AI to help shape the customer experience. It provides that self-service experience through chatbots or pushing out content that aligns with what they're looking for. So really, high personalization, high autonomy, I think is essential with customers. We'll see much more of that, especially as the technology gets better and better and more innovative, and we roll it out appropriately as marketers. I think, again, that's the caution of doing it right, instead of jumping on something because it's available to you, but then creating an experience that doesn't work or frustrating a customer.

I think we'll continue to get better and better at that and leverage what's available to help improve the customer experience on their terms. Provide what they're looking for. I think, too, conversely, especially for digital marketing, I think it's going to be interesting to watch the next couple of years as privacy becomes more and more of an issue. The customers we work with, especially those you see in B2B or tech-savvy customers, know what marketing's doing.

They know how to get around with some of what we're putting out there and, of course, the legislation that can make it even more complex regarding how you collect information and how to use that. So, thinking about that, how do you really get the information out to them, working within the confines of privacy issues, and then also giving them the information in a way that they don't feel like you're taking advantage of knowing that they've been to your site, or it's just so evident that it's been marketed to for the sake of marketing versus again, going back to the listening.

If somebody gives up their email to you, they know they're going to get marketed to. So make sure then what you do next is just so meaningful for them that they're willing to see more of the marketing and know that you're not pushing remarketing ads in front of them, that you're going to send them emails. Whatever you're doing, make sure that it hits the mark every time.

Joshua Feinberg: So much is wrapped up in trust. So when you think about the customer experience and using AI to improve it, that customer experience starts long before they become customers. It's like the stores or looking for a new home or something where you go into a parking lot. It says “Parking for future customers of,” or “Future residents of,” you envision that every prospect that's a good fit is potentially a future customer or future partner. You make the investments and treat them like that.

I would say it's super important. I talk with a lot of people about LinkedIn. They're like, "Oh, I hate when people connect with me on LinkedIn, and I'm initially getting pitch back immediately." I'm like, "Yeah, they don't get it." It's like walking up to someone that you just met and proposing that you elope on the very first conversation. You could see Ashton Kutcher making a hilarious movie about that. Still, in real life, it doesn't necessarily play out with the experience that most buyers on a considered sales process will look like a B2B tech company.

Cynthia Terpstra: Oh, absolutely. That's such a great saying. We see it all the time. It's like, "Listen; I just met you. I want to date you a little bit first before I marry you."

Joshua Feinberg: Trust. It's all about trust.

Cynthia Terpstra: It's all about trust. Then I love to say, too, for marketers, I don't remember the exact quote, but it's like, “What's the fastest way to ruin something? Throw a bunch of marketers at it.” Because they're like, "Oh, this is the latest and greatest technique." So the next thing you know, all the marketers are pouncing on it, and consumers, they're smart. They recognize it. They know. "Oh great, I'm going to give you my email because that's the only way to get this content, and I can expect to get an email every two days from you, or I'm going to be chased all over the website with your remarketing ads.”

It's like, again, be thoughtful, be conscious in everything you do so you create this positive experience because if the experience is great, and they feel like everything you did was built on best of intentions for serving them from before the sale to long after the sale, they're going to continue to engage with you. But if the first thing they do results in being pounced on by sales, they're going to exit out quickly, and you're not going to get them back. So, again, keeping those customers you do have, keeping them happy, making them feel like you constantly want to hear from them and you want to know how they can improve, they're going to talk about you. They're going to become your advocates. So pay attention to them.

Joshua Feinberg: Yeah, and even just how sales interact with early-stage prospects. I'm constantly reminding people that just because they downloaded a white paper doesn't mean they're ready for a demo and ready for a conversation. The one thing you know is they downloaded the white paper, and they wrote in something about a freeform question, like what's the biggest challenge around this topic or whatever. Talk to them about that. Yes, it requires that you read the white paper before you talk to them. They're expecting that you're the expert. So yes, it's a package deal, but you know what they expressed interest in. Start there.

Cynthia Terpstra: Well, that's so funny. I won't name the company. It's a bit of a big one. I honestly was just consuming content because I was just curious about some of the content they were producing and candidly a competitor for a former company. So I went to check out what they were doing, and I got hounded so much and so often. The salespeople were calling me, emailing me, LinkedIn, and I had to say to them, "Listen, guys, I'm a marketer. I know how this works. Please put a note in your CRM. I'm not a prospect. Just take me out because I'm not going to buy. So let's save ourselves some time and know that, and make sure everybody else on the sales team knows that. Quit hitting me up for a sale because it's not going to happen. So, put your effort elsewhere."

Joshua Feinberg: It's the, don't call me, I'll call you, AI hack of the system, figuring out that, oh, okay. I know the persona. I know the content. We'll know when there's a hand-raising motion going on. This wasn't it.

Cynthia Terpstra: Right.

Joshua Feinberg: Well, Cynthia, I appreciate you coming on the podcast with me. This has been super helpful, insightful. I know our viewers and listeners, and readers will get a lot of value from this. What's the best way for someone to reach out to you if they have any questions or want to connect with you? Are you active on LinkedIn?

Cynthia Terpstra: I'm very active on LinkedIn. I watch it constantly and on our social channels too. So constantly on LinkedIn, but just be very transparent on why you are reaching out to me because, as you said, I get bombarded all day long with the sales, “I want to connect with you,” but you know, it's a sales pitch. LinkedIn is a great way to get in touch with me and just start the conversation there.

Joshua Feinberg: That's awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining me. This has been super helpful. I wish you all the best in continuing to do great things with ReadyWorks and helping build up great companies by using innovative, disruptive digital marketing and great customer experience.

Cynthia Terpstra: Great. Thank you so much for having me, Joshua.

Joshua Feinberg: You're very welcome. Thanks, Cynthia.

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