Before becoming chief marketing officer of 6sense in 2018, Latané Conant asked her future boss to talk to her previous supervisors. It was a warning that her approach to marketing the account engagement platform would be unique. Conant's love of a challenge and its inherent risks served her well during the pandemic, when unforeseen obstacles slowed many marketers. In Conant's case, adversity was an opportunity accelerator.
As a marketer to marketers, Conant acknowledges that “marketers can sniff bull—they know bull because they’re spinning their own stuff!” With empathy as her guide, the pandemic spurred a complete reimagining of a book tour and how her company interacts with CMOs. Instead of peddling features, Conant started conversations, focused on brand-building and growing the business.
What's your philosophy?
I really put a lot of value on creativity and creating experiences that no one else was creating or could create. I’m a recovering field marketer at heart and, to me, the best field marketing is just so creative, so detail-oriented, really experience-driven, highly relevant to the audience. It doesn’t really matter the medium. I think it’s cool that we have a new opportunity and challenge to surprise people.
Before the pandemic, what was your key insight?
I had this “aha” with my team because I come from customer experience and a lot of us came from a company called Appirio, where we lived and died by customer and employee experience. I said, “Let’s apply what we know to martech and to marketing. We are going to design and really try to create an experience with no forms, no spam and no cold calls. Those are our values. Does that mean we don’t email? No, we still email. Does that mean we don’t call? No, we still call. But there’s a difference between a warm call and relevant call and a cold call.”
Where did this take insight take you?
We went hardcore on our technology and what we believed were tangential technologies. I have a saying, “No segment, no creative.” What does that mean? This goes back to the more things change, the more they stay the same—great marketing starts with the audience. What about that audience? How did you select that audience? What makes that audience bespoke? What would appeal to that audience? In 6sense, that’s a segment. We can slice and dice and look at segments of one account or segments of 2,000 accounts. Our marketing approach all starts with a deep, rich understanding of the audience. That’s the foundation of this project. We ended up proving it and working on a book.
How did you get the word out about the book?
We were trying to figure out how to create energy. How do we make it cool? How do we make it like a VIP experience? What we ended up doing was picking a group of VIPs, mostly our customers and influencers, and they all got a cocktail kit delivered to their house. My husband and I, we hung out in my kitchen and showed them how to make the cocktail. I talked a little bit about the book, why we wrote the book, just to kind of give them the why behind it. But then we actually had a concert.
We had Michael Franti give a personal concert for these VIPs. He did such a good job. It wasn’t like just watching some random concert. He did it for the book. He did it for 6sense VIPs. He really took his songs and tied them back to concepts in the book. Everybody was so into it. We were all dancing in our kitchens and Slacking, and it was just incredible. It was so much fun.
Why did it work so well?
People still want an experience. They want to be able to get up and listen to live music and dance and bond and all those things. Well, I think it’s interesting because it’s easy to think a virtual event is cheaper or easier and, while you don’t have the big heavy trade show tax, which is awesome, it takes a lot more creativity and coordination of effort. My field marketing team is busier than ever because the details matter, and the details are what differentiates a webinar from a virtual event.
What is the difference between a webinar and a virtual event?
A webinar is a form of content. A virtual event is where you actually get to know people and there’s an experience. I think that’s what marketers need to really think through and understand. We’re participating in a lot of the virtual “trade shows and events,” and it’s more like content syndication. Thinking of it more like content syndication than like a trade show is how you have to get your mind around it and also set your expectations around what you’re going to get out of it and where it’s going to play in your funnel. That should dictate how much you pay for your sponsorship and things like that.
What's the challenge of marketing to marketers?
I would say the most important aspect is marketers can sniff bull. They know bull because they’re spinning their own stuff, so one of the things that we’ve also been very, very thoughtful about is being very practical, less theoretical. Very practical about how to get things done—you called it drinking your own champagne—but we’re the “prove it” people. We will prove it to you. I don’t advise doing anything that I haven’t done myself. That’s really important. Most of our thought leadership content originates with something that we have tried and tested.
How does this shape your approach to content?
We’re not going to write about it unless we’ve taught tried and tested it and customers have tried and tested it and it’s really a best practice. That’s a big part of what I would hope you’d experience when you work with 6sense. That's no bull, very practical, not theory. We’re in this with you. We’re doing it with you. Testing, learning. And it’s totally fine to admit when things didn’t work because you learn from your mistakes.
There’s a lot of pressure on CMOs to focus on demand generation right now instead of brand. What do say to these folks?
I think brand trumps demand every single time. An investment in brand pays off over and over and over again and has a multiplicative effect throughout the entire funnel and lasts a lot longer. The easiest way to “create demand” is to get a database and spam a database. If that’s what you’re about, and that’s how you want to measure your success, I am not for you. That is just not my game. I come from sales. I was a GM before and I had a $280 million practice that I was responsible for. It’s not that I’m not very financially oriented, I just think that some of the performance-based marketing metrics are ridiculous.
Read the original AdAge article here.
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