• 11
  • March

Crommunity Podcast | Episode 2019-02 | Lee Brooks (Founder, Cromulent Marketing)

“Something as complex as a whitepaper or a technical showcase marketing document might take you 20 hours to produce. And people are, ‘I don’t have 20 hours right now, everyone’s really busy.’ Over the next quarter, your CTO might be on 50 hours’ worth of calls…it’s a no-brainer in terms of an asymmetric investment in your business: it helps everything scale.”

A few weeks ago, Matthew Trushinski suggested a fun idea: he could guest-host the Crommunity Podcast, with me on as the guest to discuss—among other things—the Waterloo Region Technology Marketing Spotlight.

After bouts with bronchitis (him) and a cold (me), we sat down after-hours in Miovision’s recording studio for a tremendously fun chat.

(for those who want to queue it up for future listening, here’s the mp3)

  • [1:37] How we got here: a very quick summary of my career arc so far, including Cromulent Marketing’s origins
  • [3:05] On the skillset that makes me a little bit unique as a marketer, in which I refer to The Triple Threat: Strategic Technical Marketing, and the importance of that mix
  • [5:57] We start to talk a little bit about the aforementioned report, including how I pulled it together and the general goals

“I wanted to actually hear from local marketers: what are your experiences? what are the things you think? what are the priorities? what challenges are you running into?”

  • [7:14] Why I chose to do the project: “There are things I think we should be talking about. There are a lot of things we know. There are a lot of things we suspect. There are a lot of unknowns. In doing this report…really the primary reason was just to get people talking. Let’s start a conversation.”
  • [9:04] On why having these conversations is important for Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo, and the surrounding region: “To get our organizations functioning as efficiently, as effectively as they can, you need marketing… So getting people talking about that. Can we be a bit of a rising tide to help all the marketers in the region, all the marketing teams, which in turn will help all the companies, all the organizations. Will it help (the economic health of the region)? Absolutely.”
  • [12:11] The red flag of relatively large companies that don’t have devoted marketing personnel, and the likely repercussions

“The minimal risk is that it puts an artificially low ceiling on the company… So the best case scenario is you’re not gonna be as big or as successful as you thought. The more likely scenario is you’re going to stumble along in the land of the living dead: you’re eventually gonna run out of your venture funding, you’re not gonna be able to be sustainably profitable, your company’s gonna spiral down and be sold for scrap, and people will buy up your intellectual property.”

  • [16:06] We go a little bit deeper into limping along, the walking dead, Growing Pains, and the new data chart in Eleven Ways to Improve Tech Marketing in the Waterloo Region: “I think we don’t really do marketing very well. There are absolutely exceptions: there are exceptional people; there are exceptional companies. And they’re the ones that get held up as counter-examples. But they’re the exceptions. And we shouldn’t worship an exception and think it’s representative of across the board, because it isn’t. Instead, we should learn what made them exceptional.”
  • [19:40] The survey data about marketing tactics and perceived chronic underinvestment
  • [21:38] On marketers and marketing roles in the local scene, including functional differences, a digital gap, and the risk of over-operationalizing: “If you look at the job posts around town, the majority are demand gen, marketing operations…They’re very tactical, they’re very counting-driven. These things are important—you want to be efficient at what you do. But if you focus on tactics first, you risk getting very good at executing things that don’t matter. Demographically, I expect a lot of our younger marketers…those are the roles they’re filling.”
  • [24:23] My concerns about the lack of opportunity for young (or new) marketers to learn and grow, successfully: “Do we have the institutions in place to teach younger marketers the broader meaning of marketing, like literally starting with understanding your market? I’m not sure. There are a lot of great meet-ups in town; to make that content accessible, it’s often very small and very tactical—and frankly that’s what a lot of attendees are looking for.”
  • [26:04] Closely related to the previous point, I talk about the risks to marketers of stagnating company growth, and mention as an exception the marketing organization built by Jacqui Murphy at Auvik Networks: her team includes very senior people, intermediate people, and junior people—very few places in town offer this sort of safe growth environment

“If our companies don’t grow, you don’t get this internal mentorship.”

  • [28:12] The conversation shifts over to sales enablement—a hugely important topic for any tech company—which was rated as the toughest challenge facing the region’s marketers in the survey component of our study: “Even something as complex as a whitepaper or a technical showcase marketing document might take you 20 hours to produce. And people are, ‘I don’t have 20 hours right now, everyone’s really busy.’ Over the next quarter, your CTO might be on 50 hours’ worth of calls…it’s a no-brainer in terms of an asymmetric investment in your business: it helps everything scale.”
  • [33:42] On bottom-of-funnel and technical content, how important it is, and how (statistically speaking, based upon the survey) we don’t produce enough of it and enough good quality material

“They insidiously eat up a tonne of specialists’ time. And maybe that’s part of the reason why: there might be a silo factor here, why we don’t have good bottom-of-funnel content. ‘Well an engineer is gonna jump on the call’ or professional services or the CTO. So again you end up with a lack of efficiency. Your engineers should not be jumping on sales calls; they should be building a world-class product.”

“If you do anything half-assed, you don’t know—and it’s gonna fail—you don’t know if the failure was because you were doing the wrong thing or you did the thing wrong. You need to invest enough in marketing and over the long term that you can actually see the returns, and you need to be disciplined about how you do it so you can come to realistic, informed, rational conclusions. There are companies in town that change what they do every day or every week under the guise of experimentation and Lean and rapid innovation and fail fast but they never learn anything from it and nothing ever improves. So what’s the point?”

Header/Featured photo credit: Cromulent Marketing, and Matt Botsford on Unsplash

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