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When I started at Mutiny, we were about 15 people. Hiring was top of mind for everyone, especially the marketing team.
“What are the first marketing hires going to be?”
If you were to ask me this same question in 2020, my answer would have been: a product marketer and demand generation (growth) marketer.
But today in 2022, my answer is very different. In fact, my first two hires for Mutiny's marketing department were content and community.
Why? Well before we get into the details, let me first share with you how we think about our marketing funnel:
As I explain the full strategy throughout this post, I'll refer back to this image. When I show it to others, they have 2 reactions.
Reaction 1: I've heard about transparency, but this is next level...
Reaction 2: But what about field marketing and demand gen?
So in the spirit of growing together, I’ll share my reasoning behind why I think Content and Community are the two most important investments a startup can make early on.
COVID killed traditional demand gen and field marketing. Well, maybe not killed. But forced them to evolve.
Here’s what happened:
Every early stage B2B marketing leader is tasked with driving pipeline for the sales team. The fastest and most reliable way to do that was through conference events and capturing leads on the website.
Therefore, demand gen and field marketing were the two roles dedicated to making that happen.
Overnight, the primary means that B2B marketers used for generating growth ceased to exist because of COVID lockdowns.
In-person conferences evaporated. All B2B business moved to the website and social channels. Un-gated content became the new currency. High-touch interactions with prospects morphed into digital peer groups on Slack.
Marketing leaders needed to quickly retool their growth marketing teams to learn two specific skills:
Create content that their target audiences wanted to look at while stuck at home.
Assemble prospects into digital communities to maintain open lines of communication.
People are craving experiences, not transactional interactions with other business people. Conferences in large hotel ballrooms have been replaced by intimate communities with a curated group of peers.
Companies that have embraced content are getting more engagement and visibility than ever before. Gone are the days of forcing a PDF download on your site visitors in exchange for an email address. Content is now expected to be free to read, share, and engage with.
How people want to be marketed to is always evolving. But trends that were going to take 10 years played out in 24 months. And it’s safe to say we’re not going back.
Tying this back to Mutiny's marketing strategy: content and community have replaced demand gen and field marketing.
Demand gen marketers have historically been focused on generating leads as their primary KPI (key performance indicator). To generate these leads, they would produce content with clickbait-y titles and then gate that content behind a lead magnet.
The proliferation of high-volume, low-quality content trained the market to have an aversion to gated content.
Fast forward to today. B2B companies who “get content” like Metadata, Gong, and Dooly use the following formula:
Produce high quality educational, inspirational, and instructional content on multiple channels.
90% is non-gated, easy to share.
Have the philosophy of “add value, the leads will come.”
We’re doing the same thing within Mutiny by hiring marketers who will create content that people actually enjoy seeing.
Community allows you to be close to your prospects' problems and earn their trust.
Pre-COVID, field marketing was all about events. Field marketers would sponsor conferences or host owned events, generate a bunch of leads, and then pass them off to the sales team to work. That’s wasn't a bad model, but COVID blew it up.
Every field marketer scrambled to make their role relevant in the virtual world. Pretty soon, I was getting an invite to a virtual event every other day. Zoom fatigue has never been more real.
Thankfully as I write this, in-person events are making a comeback. But not like how they used to be.
People want to participate in events that are experiences, not purely transactional. Conferences in large hotel ballrooms have been replaced by intimate communities with a curated group of peers.
Don't get me wrong: we used to have a lot of success attending big conferences and paying for the opportunity to shake hands with a potential customer.
But we've since pivoted our field marketing efforts to focus on the community we serve: marketing leaders. Our first experiment was to invite 40 curated CMOs to a dinner.
They loved it because they got to engage with their peers in an enjoyable atmosphere.
We loved it because we got to listen to how they're seeing the world and how we can be of service. That feedback loop then helps us strategize what content we should publish next, who else should be in the community, and what problems we can help our community solve.
The reason why I think the content + community flywheel is more effective at growing a startup is because it's built on helping prospects, rather than being transactional.
Our ICP are marketers, which offers a uniquely challenging task for our marketing. Our audience knows all the tricks in the book. They can see right through any tactic we use to convert them into customers. And if we cut corners or do B.S. marketing, they'll notice.
That's why it's important we help our market solve problems and elevate the profession of marketing.
Because they're trusting us with their professional growth. In exchange, we trust our community will consider Mutiny when the time is right for them.
We'll soon be sharing more about our community and how you can get involved. In the meantime, for a peak behind-the-scenes be sure to join our newsletter. By joining you'll automatically be added to the community waitlist when it launches in the next few weeks.
Learn how top B2B marketers are using conversion to grow and apply it yourself.