2022 Growth Trends: Content & Branding with Brooklin Nash
We spoke with Brooklin Nash - a B2B freelance content marketer, strategist, and consultant. He's worked with companies like Mixpanel, Sales Hacker, Trust Radius, and Media Radar.
In this interview we discuss:
- What content is performing best in 2022
- Actionable ways to implement this type of content at your company
- Next biggest trend in LinkedIn branding
To start, give a high-level introduction of yourself
I've been freelancing for about eight years. About four years ago, I made the switch from being a freelance writer to being a content marketer.
I worked for a couple of different startups, a tiny sales startup first, and then moved over to Outreach on the Sales Hacker community content team.
Just about six weeks ago, I jumped back into doing my own thing again.
What is an innovative marketing campaign you recently conducted?
The first thing I thought of was during my time at Sales Hacker. We put together a Sales Stack Report, we took a bunch of tools designed for the sales team across enablement, revenue intelligence, conversational intelligence, sales engagement, seven different categories.
We ran a survey to over 1000 salespeople, demand gen folks, sales leaders, front line reps - the whole gamut of go-to-market work. We asked them to rank these tools in terms of:
- impact on their sales motion
Just to serve as kind of a benchmark report for the wider sales industry.
The reason I thought of it, number one it was fun to work on. And number two, it just had so many more benefits to focus on one core piece of content like that. They went really in-depth and relied on the perspective of more than 1000 salespeople or marketers rather than a series of blog posts.
It took a few months to gather the responses, turn them into the insights we wanted to share, get those charts designed, write up the report, and then release them.
It was perfectly situated for lots of different channels:
- Partner marketing because we could send it out to the companies that we included.
- Social because we could reuse those charts for a bunch of different insights. We have more than 30 charts to pull from the report.
There are just lots of pieces that got pulled in with the single report, it was technically one piece of content, but it felt much bigger than that.
Were you able to see the results from that?
It was a little bit different because all of the focus was on community and content. We're not aiming for lead gen or driving conversions.
Considered community sign-ups conversions. It was more just number one brand awareness, number two bringing value to our partners and potential partners. The sales tools that we included happened to be mostly Sales Hacker partners.
I think you could pretty easily tie it to the metrics that are most important to your business. I mean, everything from social impact looking at mentions and additional followers down to specific conversions and lead generation opportunities for downloading reports.
We didn't gate it or anything though. We just wanted to get it out there for the community.
What is one marketing strategy/ mindset you're excited about going into next year?
Benchmark reports aren't new. Doing research as a SaaS company that's related to your niche and what your audience is interested in isn't new, but I think it's getting more and more popular, which is what I'm really excited about.
Whether it's based on your own proprietary data, with things like Intricately where they're reporting on cloud data usage and giving very specific insights, or Media Radar looking at how companies are spending their ad dollars or something like what we did at Sales Hacker, where you're going out and getting your industry's input on something that you care about as a solution and that your customers care about.
I think this is super anecdotal, but I'm seeing more and more of that type of content going out the door. I think that will continue to be true in the next year.
What is a good first step to start creating this type of content?
It was a huge learning experience for me because I had never run a survey or even done pivot tables or equations in Google Sheets. From beginning to end, I had to learn all of it in terms of the first step.
Hopefully, it doesn't feel like a plug but Erin Balsa at The Predicted Index, she's also consulting and freelancing. She has a course. It's exactly on this. It's how to create a research report from beginning to end.
She goes through:
- how to write your survey questions
- how to hire out a data scientist (so you don't have to worry about what I was spent hours on in Google Sheets)
- how to promote and distribute
It's a beginning-to-end guide. It was super helpful.
What's marketing strategy are you ready to see end in 2022?
I don't know if it is an end but more of a shift. I’m excited to see a more meaningful conversation around how businesses, large businesses, mid-size, even enterprises, can leverage personal brands.
I think personal brand conversations have blown up the last couple of years, but it's very individual, and not a lot on how companies and go-to-market teams can capture that energy, make it part of the strategy, measure results, and incentivize.
In the meantime, there are a lot of personal brand gurus talking about their personal brand on social. And saying like, LinkedIn is the way - if you're a seller it is all about social selling and if you're a marketer this is how you make difference in your career.
It's very individual.
I do think it's a positive, but I think it's at a point where it doesn't seem like anybody is saying anything new. The irony here is I'm very active on social, saying that personal brand doesn't matter, but I think there needs to be something to bridge the gap between this conversation that's going on and the conversation that needs to happen, how companies can leverage that investment for their marketing strategy.
There are so many individuals out there that make such a presence on LinkedIn right now, but you haven't seen companies be able to crack that code yet or develop their own personalities.
What are some strategies to develop that personality?
The first part is going to sound like a cop-out answer because it's so vague. It depends on your organization, but building a culture around it, which again, is why I think very few companies have done it well.
There are two I can think of two in the sales space - Dooly and Gong.
I don't know what their internal processes or incentivized culture are, but whatever they're doing around that seems to be working. It's not just a handful of people. It seems like at least on the outside the entire team is buying into this.
Building a culture where you're encouraging people to create and be creative is probably the first step or at least something to watch as you take the steps.
And then the other piece of it you don't necessarily need, especially for a small organization, entire sales enablement sales content platform. But thinking in those terms, even if you don't have something like a Seismic or Show Pad in place, you can feed content into a platforms or repositories.
If you don't have a platform like that, that isn't just your sequences and your sales messaging and your battle cards. More around buyer personas and is more focused on conversations around the space.
Let's be that trusted voice in the space, whether you're selling into HR or legal or ops or sellers, what are the pieces that would be helpful to put in the hands of your marketers and your salespeople that they can take, be creative with and turn into their own voice on social.
What are some top tools you're obsessed with right now?
They're not the most exciting answers, but I am on SEMrush every day.
I think a lot of people think of it as an SEO tool, but I think it's helpful in lots and lots of capacities, looking for partners or looking at competitor research. Obviously, the SEO research elements looking at your own pages as well.
Any time I'm on a new site or jumping in a call with somebody, I check out their site on SEMrush first, because then I get a quick view of it instead of having to manually go through and look at the last month's worth of content.
I can see what is resonating and impactful and what they have up. I'm on there like every day, both for clients and just for myself.
Another one again, not super exciting is Loom. I use that all the time to send videos to clients explaining something, giving feedback on content so that it's screenshare and I can run through it. I think it just helps.
We're not new to the remote working environment. But it helps bridge those gaps with not just an email or just a slack message, you actually have a face-to-face. It probably takes me less time to explain my feedback in a five-minute video than it would be to figure out how to encapsulate all that in an email.
Where can people find out more about what you do or reach out?
I do content marketing strategy and execution for B2B SaaS companies. So if that's you, I'm on LinkedIn, you can find me. If you're a freelancer whether you're a content marketer, writer.
Whatever it is, starting to put more content together around that space. That's more on Twitter. That's kind of the breakdowns LinkedIn for B2B content Twitter for freelance content.
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