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#91: Nick Bennett – The Game Changing-Approach to B2B Events | Event-Led Growth and Brand Evangelists

Episode 91

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Events can be a GAME changer for your business 🚀

But the last thing we want is another online webinar! We’re all thinking it.

If you’re anything like us, some of these event invites get automatically filed away to some dark folder in Gmail to never be read, or deleted immediately!

But let’s challenge that and ourselves to do events differently. Because it’s still an amazing channel for B2B marketers. There’s nothing quite like it for quality time with some people you as marketers really need to be talking to!

Nick Bennett gives us the lowdown on why the old way of doing events just doesn’t cut it anymore and how pivoting towards event-led growth can seriously boost your pipeline and revenue.

He’s all about the experience, engagement, and data when it comes to nailing those successful events. 🎯

We also chat about the cool concept of brand evangelism and when it’s the perfect time for a business to bring a brand evangelist on board. Nick shares his wisdom on why quality beats quantity in event engagement and the secret sauce to keeping the conversation buzzing after the event. 🗣️

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George: welcome back to the b B Playbook. This week’s interview is with [00:01:00] Nick Bennett. Now Nick is the Senior Director of event led Growth and Evangelism at Airme Air meets the platform that delivers events that creates real lasting human connections. He’s also the host of an awesome podcast called The Anonymous Marketer Podcast.

George: Kev, what’d you think of that interview?

Kev: Well, it was fantastic. Not only did you have a chance to talk a lot about what event led growth can do for business and how much impact Nick and Air meets work is delivering with these sort of events A different approach, a new approach to how to do events .

Kev: Particularly when we’re all a bit sick of the classic webinar at lunchtime. But very important work that they’re doing over there. We also had an opportunity to have him providers expert perspective on what brand evangelists and employee advocacy. Can really do to change the game as well. And that was pretty insightful too because obviously that’s part of his role and ultimately it still comes down to driving incredible pipeline growth and impact.

George: obviously born in Kev, as you can see but it’s [00:02:00] just amazing to see the awesome roles and jobs that people are doing out there. And Nick’s no different. What fantastic people and what a fantastic episode we actually got out of him, not just for our usual B2B marketers, but it’s also an interesting one for founders and employers alike to really understand the power of both events and brand evangelists today and Kev.

George: Truly helpful content creators in particular, which I would like to think we are as well.

Kev: Yeah, let’s hope we are, and listeners, as part of that, we hope you enjoy this conversation with Nick.

George: Welcome back to the B2B Playbook. Listeners, as we rarely have guests on our show. Instead, we select a few true experts that align with our view that B2B marketing is more about people, not platforms. Today our special guest is Nick Bennett.

George: Now Nick is the Senior Director of Event led Growth and Evangelism at Air Meat, and Airme is the platform that delivers events that creates real lasting [00:03:00] human connections. He’s also the host of an. Awesome podcast, one of my favorite podcasts, the Anonymous Marketer Podcast. Nick is a leader in our space and is particularly passionate about the creator economy and bringing creators to the B2B world.

George: Nick, thank you so much for coming on the

Nick: Thank you so much for having me. That was a fantastic intro. Like you just, you instantly make me feel good.

George: Look I try and do something that people can then I wanna make people feel like it’s something they could show their parents and be like, I know you don’t get what I do every day for work, but listen to this. There’s other people out there who think I’m awesome.

Nick: I love that.

George: Nick, look, I’ve been following you for a long time and this is really like the first proper opportunity that we’ve got to catch up. It’s just watching you lately. I think you’ve really cleverly positioned yourself at the heart of two opportunities that I think are really gonna skyrocket in b2b.

George: These are of course, event led [00:04:00] growth brand evangelism slash the creator economy. Now, I do think there’s some overlap there, but I want to separate them to begin with. Maybe we can start with event led growth, Nick. Before we define event led growth, perhaps it makes sense to set the scene first.

George: What was the old way of doing events and why was it so broken?

Why The Old Way of B2B Events Is Broken

Nick: I think a big piece of it is so many people thought of events as an afterthought, and it is pretty much as a, lead gen driver and in lots of cases it was siloed within the company. People do events. You do in-person events to go skin. Leads at a booth, or you do virtual events and your goal is to basically do a 45 minute pitch deck and then 15 minutes for q and a.

Nick: And that’s just not the way people like to do events anymore. And I think it needed to change because of the whole webinar fatigue. And I wrote a post about this a couple weeks ago, but like webinar fatigue, I don’t is it webinar fatigue or is it like you have crappy speakers and content at the end of the day?

Nick: [00:05:00] So I think companies need to look at. At the way that they produce content and the way that they evangelize that content.

George: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I do agree that, the old way is it is broken, was it that people are sick of that format or you just not delivering enough value? I really agree with you there. Okay. Then event led growth, like what is event led growth? Cuz it’s this more attractive alternative that I see you speak about.

George: And why should B2B companies put events at the heart of their go-to-market strategy?

What Is Event-Led Growth?

Nick: You nailed it right there. Putting it at the heart of your go-to-market strategy, because again, it can’t be an afterthought. It comes down to three things, experience, engagement, data. Those three things make up event led growth. So is the experience something that is like world class for the people that attend your events?

Nick: Is the engagement next level and is the platform or whatever that you’re doing, is that engagement noticeable? And then the data, how do you actually take. For [00:06:00] us, first party intent, second party intent, third party intent, layer it all on so that we can inform our future event strategy as well. And then at the end of the day, it’s all about the attendee.

Nick: You’re putting the attendee first, so your speakers, your content, your agenda, your venue, if it’s in person, it’s all about the attendee. And I think it goes back to a people first go to market strategy. That replaces a company go-to-market strategy because we know people buy from people. And if you can create these experiences through the events that you do, I a hundred percent can tell you it will move the needle.

Nick: And we’ve actually, we do these things called V two moms. And the way that we measure our event success, it’s through pipeline as well as a bunch of other things, but. The amount of pipeline that our events generate on a quarter by quarter basis is in the millions of dollars. And that’s just events alone.

Nick: That’s not even the other channels that we’re running.

George: Wow, that is nuts. And is that just these actual, like [00:07:00] just from the event itself? Just that, that one single occasion where everyone gets together? Or is it this new way that you’re doing events where I think we’ll get into it a little bit later, but Airme, you guys actually say there’s three main acts.

George: When it comes to an event, and I’d like to talk about that later. Are you referring to the air meter approach to events?

Nick: absolutely. Yeah, It’s, we try to eat our own dog food as they say, and it’s like everything that we do, we wanna be the authority on what event led growth is, and. We coined that term about a year ago now. Mark Killens, who’s our cmo, was the one that kind of helped develop that.

Nick: Now you’re seeing some other companies understand, I feel like it was always something that was out there, but no one like basically came up with a true definition of what does event led growth actually mean? And people were angry cuz it was like, oh, we have lead growth on everything plg. And it’s why do we need another thing?

Nick: But it’s instrumental to your go-to-market strategy.

George: Yeah. I love that you guys have coined that term. [00:08:00] I think it makes a lot of sense and I think you’re doing a great job at establishing, the foundations and the rules around it to help us define what event led growth really means. I want to take a step back into, I guess how you went all in on, event led growth.

George: Was there a particular moment where you had seen this done by someone else and you were like, oh my God, this is so powerful. I love that we’re just taking this like one to one and one to few human connection and can just blow it up and amplify it with this event led growth

Nick: I, I think it’s, my background is traditional field marketing, so I’ve always done events. It’s always been a huge piece of what I’ve done. So I feel like events has been a big driver and I just. Feel like there was always a better way to do it. And so when I started to hear about this and I’ve known Mark for years because he was at Drift, he was at HubSpot before that he built out HubSpot Academy.

Nick: So like he understood how like, this could change the world based on his previous [00:09:00] experiences. And I remember we were grabbing dinner one night and he was telling me, he’s this is the future of what event led growth is. And I was like, that’s so interesting because. As someone that’s done so many events, I feel like in my past it’s always been very much just Hey, you do the event, you pass it off.

Nick: Who knows what happens. I feel like it was very much like field or event Marketing 1.0, and then it transitioned to this 2.0, which then leads way to like event led growth as a strategy.

George: Nick, you’ve touched on this a little bit earlier already. You mentioned that one of the really key benefits to event led growth is it can actually impact pipeline and revenue for companies that are really considering investing in event led growth.

George: What are the other, ancillary benefits other than that actual bottom line pipeline and revenue?

Key Benefits to Event-Led Growth

Nick: I think a big piece of it is there’s, missed opportunity to create customer affinity at the end of the day as well. It’s like we have so many customers that use us and like big logos that say I couldn’t run my event strategy if I didn’t have the [00:10:00] capabilities and like the features that your specific platform offered.

Nick: And it’s just if you can create something that makes marketers feel like. Wow, this is amazing. Virtual event platform is one piece of it, but then when you add on all the additional pieces that makes that experience special, you create that affinity and you’re like, all right.

Nick: Wow. Like they’re using word of mouth, dark social to go tell other people. And we have, the funny thing is whenever we do an event, whether it’s our own or even like our customers events, we see a surge of inbound. That come like right after. Mostly when we do our own events because, so the best demo that we can give is experiencing the platform firsthand.

George: Yeah. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It’s a great opportunity to show off that platform firsthand, but I imagine you’re also bringing together not just like your ideal customers, but probably influencers of those ideal customers as well. Cuz like you guys are always bringing so much value to the table whenever you’re putting on an event.

George: And I imagine that’s only just driving that word of mouth even further.

Nick: absolutely. [00:11:00] And it’s just, it helps a little bit that, when you have, names that people recognize, like they, they, wanna they wanna help you out, they wanna do the events, they wanna, I could reach out to certain people that typically don’t always do events and be like, Hey, can you help us out and do this event?

Nick: And they’d be like, yeah, for sure. And it’s just cool. That’s another huge piece. Which leads to the evangelism piece of this whole like e LG and just evangelism as a whole.

George: I mean I, that’s I definitely wanted to get into that later because that’s where I just see the two being really intertwined, right? Like the work that you’ve done as an evangelist and having that profile, it makes it so much easier doesn’t it, for you to get people to these events because you’ve already got that value there.

George: Like you already have an audience to bring to something so people know if they come, they’re at minimum getting exposure to your own audience.

Nick: Yep.

George: Very cool. Very cool. Question for you is what kinds of companies are really suited to event led growth? Is it for those that are like,[00:12:00] seed stage or scale up, or are there particular industries?

George: Have you had much of a chance to think about that?

What Companies Are Best Suited To Event-Led Growth?

Nick: I don’t think it matters as much as industry. We are seeing tech being the biggest driver of it. The funny thing is before we started to really sell the tech, and I mean we see a wide variety of like seed stage all the way up to public traded companies, but we used to sell to anyone.

Nick: Before we had a very laser focused into tech and, we would sell to colleges, to universities to like, healthcare systems that wanted to use it for training. So like we used to basically sell to anyone that wanted to use it to just put on some type of virtual experience and we didn’t care about the event.

Nick: It was more, we did a lot of like trainings and it was probably about. Eight months ago that we said, you know what, we’re gonna get laser focused into B2B tech, and that’s gonna be like our I C P. We have the personas that matter and like we’re just doubling down there. And if those other [00:13:00] industries or use cases come in, we won’t turn them down.

Nick: We just won’t go out and outbound to those people.

George: That’s so interesting. What drove that change in positioning and how did you arrive at that conclusion?

Nick: Because most of these people would use it for a one-off event and then they would churn. So say they were spending, I don’t know, $5,000 for a one-off event. They would do the event and they’d be like, cool, all right, I’m good. I don’t need it anymore. And so like the churn numbers actually look a lot worse than they are.

Nick: And so we said, all right, we need to focus on ICP churn. And so those numbers look a lot better. And so we said, all right, tech is people. These people do events all the time. We have the experience there. We built a feature set that kind of delivers to B2B tech, and we just have focused on that ever since.

George: Yeah. Awesome. And related to that look, a lot of our listeners, they organize events. They’re often that lonely in-house marketer who’s tasked with that. They typically do one or two major events per year. They blow all their budget on that, and there’s just so much hinges [00:14:00] on it. I’ve seen you say that, you guys take a different approach and this really aligns, to this new segment that you’re focused on.

George: And you’re trying to get people to double down on micro events. Can you maybe explain for the listeners and people watching what micro events are and why you feel that they’re a much better alternative to throwing all your eggs in one

Micro Events in B2B

Nick: Yeah, micro, I think micro events are the future. It’s basically a smaller, more intimate experience for someone, whether that’s virtual or in person. When I think of it from a virtual perspective, you say you grab 15 marketing leaders and we’re doing a round table virtually, and we’re talking about specific topic.

Nick: There’s no PowerPoint presentation. There’s no. Sales pitch, we’re just trying to talk about a specific topic. So if we wanted to talk about like B2B growth for example or what’s that playbook look like? We just have a conversation and in open conversation. Now, in person you could do, dinners are very similar as well, but.

Nick: It’s going to be a lot cheaper to run smaller micro events and then take that content. We call it the grade [00:15:00] eight. So we, every event that we do, we have eight different pieces of content that will come from it for the most part, and we can chop it up and do a little bit less. But we have eight versions that we can do for every event that we do.

Nick: And, it’s been really fun to just be like, all right, cool. The event is one piece, but the content is what’s gonna fuel everything else.

George: Nice. So like with that approach, I guess you’re keeping content like fresher. You’re not just relying on those one, two major events that, to be honest, like half the people aren’t bothering filming anyway. But instead you’re spreading that budget over a lot more smaller events that are probably more personal from what I’m hearing And they’re probably because you get to do the like more often and on a smaller scale, you’re probably able to discuss things that are more relevant.

George: Like right now, right at that time period.

Nick: Exactly. Yeah. And ultimately it puts the person back at the center of everything, which is like the, that attendee first experience. It’s you could do [00:16:00] these big thousand multi-thousand person events, but it’s if you can get, I and I tell this to our team all the time, I would much rather do.

Nick: Or have 20 quality people show up at an event than 500 people that are not an ICP mix or fit. And like they were just like, why though? Like we could hit higher goals if we care about registration numbers or attendee numbers. I’m like, yeah, but out of those 500 people, how many do you think will actually convert?

Nick: It’ll actually be less than those 20 people that actually matter from your target account.

Focus on Quality over Quantity at Events

George: Yeah, I love that focus and I know you’ve been so in the weeds on ab m and I can see your mindset there coming across to this and just really focusing so intently on that icp. Was it a struggle I guess coming into air meat and trying to convince people I know we’ve got all these customers, but.

George: This tech sector is the one that we really should focus on.

Nick: It was, I feel like it wasn’t as hard as, people thought. We’re [00:17:00] based in India. The company’s based in India, and so a big focus for us in 2023 was North America growth. And so we’re really doubling down on that piece, which is where I feel like, and it’s very interesting, it.

Nick: India and rest of the world is very transactional in kind of like platforms like us. Whereas in North America, it’s very much a bit of a longer sales cycle, but it’s bigger deals and it’s a bigger piece of their strategy versus like a one-off. And we just said, Hey, like this is this is the future. This is where we need to be. Obviously we have a bunch of competitors that were already based in North America. And they were having success, so it was like, why weren’t we here? As another piece of it.

George: Yeah, super interesting. New region you go to market approach. Makes a lot of sense. Nick, I’ve seen written on the air meat site cuz you know, I do my research. I’m a good boy. That look, any event has three major acts and I alluded to this before. And act one is about getting people excited, right?

George: There’s signing up your gathering data as the person who’s [00:18:00] hosting this event, act two is the main event at. Self, which is about connecting people, creating a customized experience and sewing the seeds for potentially developing relationships with new accounts. What I’m really interested is in act three, the third act, and that’s what happens after the event to actually keep engagement going.

George: Can you tell me more about Act three and perhaps how air meat are helping facilitate Act three or how you guys do Act three

The 3 Acts Your B2B Events Should Have

Nick: Yeah, it’s, it’s super interesting and we have we were supposed to have a big event coming up in June and our product’s a little bit behind, and so we’re pushing it a little bit. But this new product feature that we’re releasing is going to bring Act three to fruition really, that will make it where it’s never been done before.

Nick: And think about the ability to basically just have. Everything on an attendee or a registrant that matters and you have intent. You have their [00:19:00] profile, you have what they care about. You can really create a personalized experience at that point. And then we have the ability to just take that to a whole new level.

Nick: And our whole goal is like, all right, great. You do the event. We have lots of people that are attend our events. We do 20 something events per quarter right now. I think like in q2 we’re doing 26 or so. And so you do these 26 events and we have event series. We do these two events series called Power Hour and Interventions, and then we do co-hosted types of events and partner events and.

Nick: There’s a lot of events. What do you actually do to keep that engagement going? So it goes back to that people first go to market. We try to put a person at the center of the engagement post event. So it’s usually myself or Mark or someone that, people can recognize. We try to keep it on the marketing side versus someone on the sales side just because they can hopefully relate a little bit more.

Nick: And we do a lot of the outreach, where it comes from our name, it goes to our personal email address. We’re [00:20:00] recording personal videos for target accounts as well. I can’t tell you how many personal videos that I send out and, For the first time, about a week or two ago, we actually, I recorded a video, two minute video of myself that talked about the upcoming events and then what’s gonna happen post-event as well.

Nick: And so it’s the first time we actually ever put a video in an email and the click through rate and the open rate because one, they saw my name. They saw my face, it was through the roof by far. It was our best performing email, and we were like, that’s how we’re gonna keep the engagement going.

Nick: That’s how we’re gonna get people to want to continue to not only experience all of these events, but continue to engage at these events and continue to collect data on these so we can make the experience that much better for them in the long term.

George: Wow so you’re providing as many opportunities as possible. Then after the event, To keep that conversation going. And it sounds like you’re doing that like a lot on a one-to-one [00:21:00] basis, which I find like surprising. I just didn’t realize that you were doing that. And then are you doing it on the guest, like a one to few, one to many basis as well.

George: Doing your posts on LinkedIn through email blast, that kind

Nick: Exactly. Yeah. One, one to few definitely on that side of it, one-to-one for our top like prospect accounts and that’s where kind of we’re working with our VP of sales and like the AEs. That’s why like you have to be so aligned with the sales team on this. And for the customer side, the CS team on this, because it’s going to make a difference if you put it out on a one-to-one basis.

Nick: When you get a, when you get a personal message. If I was like, George, I’m gonna send you a message from our cmo and he sends you a message calling out what you did at the event, hope you liked it, would love to chat with you for 30 minutes to talk about your event strategy. You’re probably gonna reply to that email cuz you’re gonna be like, wow, like, he took a little bit of time to send me a personal video.

Nick: Most AEs don’t even send personalized videos.

George: Yeah, that, that is awesome. And I can see [00:22:00] like how your whole journey has led to this and why you’re so good at it. I feel like a lot of marketers, I don’t know we rather, we’d probably sit behind our computers and not actually speak to people and have those one-to-one conversations, but.

George: I don’t know it, it’s an amazing way of deepening that relationship, particularly with a high value, a possibly engaged account. And do you think it’s something that more marketers need to be

Nick: Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah. It goes back to just talking to prospects and customers at the front of it. If you’re, a revenue facing marketer, You should absolutely be talking to prospects and customers, and maybe it’s because I was in sales before I was in marketing. Maybe that’s a big piece of it, and I’ve written about this before.

Nick: Do marketers that were in sales before they moved over to marketing, do they make better marketers? Or another piece, and I think plays into it, if you were an athlete and then you’re a marketer, does being an athlete as a marketer make you more willing to like just be out there and networking and fulfilling what you want to do?

George: Yeah, super interesting. Look all the salespeople turned [00:23:00] marketers. That I’ve come across have become like weapons at marketing. And it’s because they’re not afraid to talk to people and listen to them. And that’s just such a valuable skill and properly engage with them. And Look, I think that’s really laid the foundations for us there in terms of event led growth.

George: I think like you’ve made an absolute really good case for it. It’s something that I encourage, like all of our listeners to really get on board with because, a lot of them don’t have the big budgets to make these big, flashy, splashy events that might not even return much for them anyway. And so these micro events are an awesome alternative to it.

George: I want to move to brand evangelism now and create a LED growth. Now look. Your senior director of Evangelism for air meat, perhaps the easiest way to explain what a brand evangelist is for you to tell us what you do as an evangelist for Airmeet

What Brand Evangelists Do

Nick: Yeah. I would say a majority of what I do is stuff like this, podcasts, speaking sessions. It’s the more that I can get out [00:24:00] there and just talk to people that, ultimately you’re asking me questions about event led growth. People are gonna listen to this. They’re gonna be like, I didn’t know what event led growth was.

Nick: Oh, I’m gonna go check out Nick. Oh, I’m gonna see that he creates content on event led growth, but it just, it’s a flywheel that just starts to turn over time. And I think so many people think of evangelists as sang Graham when you know, from Go to Market partners or UTI from Gong, and it’s yeah, like executive or even Chris Walker, like executives should be evangelists. That’s what their job partly is. But like when you think of Individual contributors or director level people, and you’re seeing this more and more people that are turning into evangelists that are subject matter experts, that is where the future is, I believe, and I’m seeing it a lot where it’s like I would much rather have SMEs be on calls than sometimes sales.

Nick: And I join a lot, I run a lot of first sales calls as an S M E. And I think it’s partly due to the evangelist piece of it where it’s just, I like talking to other people. [00:25:00] I like talking about what event led growth is and how the creator economy plays into everything. But again, it’s not for everyone.

Nick: You have to be wanting to talk to other people.

George: Yeah, look, you’ve got the perfect combination of skills to do it, but look, there’s probably never been a better time than now to, get on that path to try and become evangelist for your brand, right? Like the barrier to entry is pretty low. I suppose it’s a pretty blue ocean for a lot of US B2B marketers out there.

George: What would you say on

Nick: Yeah, I think anyone, if you’re a subject matter expert, like in, I feel like anyone that’s a subject matter expert is technically an evangelist at the end of the day, and I feel like anyone that’s a marketer is technically an evangelist. You should be evangelizing your. Company or your product or your space through the conversations that you have through community.

Nick: Because we all know the dark social and word of mouth plays a huge piece of it. And I think anyone that is a marketer is technically an evangelist. Some of them do it better than others, [00:26:00] but there is companies that are hiring specific roles for this now because they’re seeing that Hey, you have a pretty big.

Nick: Social media following. So you have our ICP in your social media and people getting hired for this all the time. And some companies are building out entire marketing teams of people that have decent followings and they’re driving a ton of business through content that they create from that.

Nick: Honestly, I think it’s a smart play and I feel like I didn’t think of this when I started three years ago, and I’m just like, wow. Like I’m actually in a pretty good spot now. If I lose my job tomorrow, like I could probably just post something and be like, cool. Hey, I would love to evangelize for your brand. Feel free to hire me, and I would hopefully get a decent amount of offers.

George: Oh, totally. And like people trust you. You’ve built trust with so many people for a long period of time, and that trust gets translated to whatever company it is that you’re working with. And if you’re a revenue generating asset for a business, when times are tough, people don’t fire, they’re revenue generating assets, right?

George: Like they’re [00:27:00] gonna go after the cost centers not the ones that are actually bringing in the dough connecting that. Two pipeline. Look, I know that you drove a lot of pop pipeline to Alice as their unofficial evangelist. I’m sure you’ve done it for air meat as well. Can you explain to listeners how that worked?

George: Like why were more people signing up to Alice or signing up to air meat because of what you’re doing? How do you make the connection between your brand and where you’re

Nick: Yeah, it’s interesting. I actually don’t talk about, like, when I was at Alice, like 98% of the content that I created actually wasn’t about Alice at all. I just talked about things that I was passionate about. People connected with me as an individual. But what happened was people would see my content on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, and they would be like, oh, cool. What does Nick do? Oh, he works for Alice or Airme. What do they do? Oh, actually I use a competitor of theirs, but like Nick seems like a pretty trustworthy guy. I’m gonna go figure out, like I’m gonna go check out their [00:28:00] website. All of a sudden they’re on the website, they’re checking out the pricing page, they’re submitting a demo request.

Nick: We use self-reported attribution. We did at Alice, we do it Air meet. And so in that, how did you hear about Us Text Box? They’re putting Nick Bennett LinkedIn or Nick Bennett TikTok. I’m seeing that pop up now too. Or YouTube, is another one that I’m seeing pop up and it’s Cool. Alright, so I am directly influencing deals and again, I’m not out there pitching air meat at the end of the day.

Nick: I’m just hopefully delivering value through the content that I create that hopefully evangelizes the space that gets people familiar with what it is, who I am as a person. If you wanna check it out, that’s on you. I, again, you have to make the best decision for yourself. My goal is just to get people to be aware of what it is and what the experience could be.

George: Yeah, look, I can vouch for you. Absolutely. Like I’ve never felt that you’ve spoken about the companies that you work at and being like, by this, I think this is great. You’re always telling stories around [00:29:00] it and it can be mentioned tangentially. But I think fundamentally, like people just end up trusting you.

George: The relationship is with you. And I suppose, once people are in market and they need a solution, look, I’m sure air meat is way better than all of its competitors. I’m sure it is. But at the end of the day, a lot of businesses like their products, their feature sets, they’re pretty similar.

George: It just comes down to that gut feel of who do I trust the most? Who’s not gonna let me down? Who’s not gonna make me look like an idiot? And you’d be like I trust Nick. At least there’s a face there. I know him. Things will be

Nick: Exactly, and it’s like when I’m the one that’s jumping on and helping support them through their strategy, it’s not like I’m just like, Hey, go submit a demo request and like you’re gonna talk to sales, you’re never gonna hear from me. The amount of people that like reach out was like, Hey, or one, like I see all the people that mention me, so I personally reach out to them and I’m just like, if I didn’t know they were already gonna submit, I’d be like, Hey.

Nick: Thank you so much for submitting. Let me know if you wanna hop on a call for 30 minutes [00:30:00] and just talk about things before you talk to the sales team. And I can tell you no other company in our space is doing that.

George: Yeah. Very cool. Look, a lot of businesses, I feel, are afraid to put faces and names on their brand, and maybe it’s because they fear that goodwill is with the individual and not the brand itself. So if they get an evangelist like yourself, And you leave the company. Then all of a sudden, is that pipeline that’s coming through you, does that then dry up? Does that negatively affect the business? What do you say to companies who are facing that

The Halo Effect of Brand Evangelists

Nick: Yeah, ultimately people that have a brand for themselves, They’re not gonna, no one stays at the company unless you own the company for forever. And I always use the example my mom’s worked for Raytheon for 40 something years. It’s been her only job. And she’s like, you’ve worked for eight companies and you’re only 36 years old.

Nick: And I’m just like, yeah, but mom, times have changed. If I can stay here for a year and a half, two years and then go get 30% more at [00:31:00] another company, like I’m gonna do it. You have to look out for yourself at the end of the day and hopefully, Employee advocacy, I think is a big piece of it.

Nick: And if you can lead by example, let’s take Alice for example. I ended up building additional people that wanted to post regularly. So now that I’m gone, there’s still people that post regularly. So yeah, my name’s not there. People still recognize my name of being there. I actually, someone reach out to me the other day be like, Hey, I know you’re not at Alice anymore.

Nick: I have, I’m on a competitor and I was looking at switching. Would you be able to introduce me to someone? And I feel like that’s a long lasting effect as well. And you just ultimately build additional evangelists within the company that will go and lead that that struggle.

George: Yeah, I guess it’s a strategy and a mindset, right? Like they, they can go and find. Other evangelists out there, bring the next one into the business. You’ve gone in there, you’ve delivered value, and you’ve helped them set up a framework to continue that activity, which is [00:32:00] immensely valuable. Not to mention, if you introduced them to a whole new set of customers, if they can keep those customers happy, that’s a whole referral network.

George: Like it goes way beyond just Nick Bennett’s, two years at Alice or whatever it was.

Nick: a hundred percent.

George: How do you measure the success of a brand evangelist? Do you have KPIs? Because it’s officially in your title now. How does

Measuring the Success of a Brand Evangelist

Nick: Yeah, so, a big piece of it is uh, influence pipeline is, is a big piece of it. I would say right now, the amount of people that mention me in self-reported attribution is, one of the biggest ways that we look at it. So I have a quarterly bonus and like part of that is based on, not only like the evangelism piece, but also everything else.

Nick: But a big piece for the evangelism side is how many people are mentioning me on self-reported attributes. Should I have a number that like, It’s my goal to hit, and then what does that actually contribute in pipeline to the business, both from a sourced and influence standpoint. And that’s really the majority of what we’re looking at right now because [00:33:00] I feel like it’s still so early and like I’m in charge of a lot of different things right now. it’s just like a portion of what I do, but it is important.

George: Yeah, I can see it building and growing over time and this thing’s just gonna keep compounding and compounding. I think it’s so great that you got that into your title as well. I have, I’ve never seen that before. Have you seen that in a title before?

Nick: I ha I haven’t actually. But it was funny cuz when I was talking to Mark about coming here, we were actually trying to like, think of titles and we talked about the event led growth piece and I was like, we should put evangelism in there. And he agreed a hundred percent. He was like, yeah, let’s do it.

Nick: But you don’t see it a ton like, although, I do see UDI now has like chief evangelists as like his title at Gong and I feel again, it’s like a lot of executives had have like chief evangelists or like something like that, but people that are, lower on the totem pole, haven’t really had titles like that.

George: It. It’s like the ultimate [00:34:00] non-threatening salesperson, right? Would you rather be dmd by someone with sales in their title or brand evangelist?

Nick: E Exactly.

George: and it’s so great if they get you right, because then they get someone. Who, has a great network, has subject matter expertise, can genuinely help them with their strategy and isn’t just trying to sell them something like you, you are literally just trying to help them.

George: I hope more companies take inspiration

George: from this.

Nick: Plus it also helps for other salespeople not to pitch you like, because it’s like, all right, yo, it’s a weird title that like people like, I don’t really know like what this even means. So like, the amount of people that prospect me is actually a lot less

George: That’s so good. No one thinks that the brand evangelist holds the purse strings.

Nick: Exactly.

George: Oh. Do you think, AI is moving so quickly. Do you think that’s gonna accelerate the need for companies to have brands with personalities? I feel that information becomes more [00:35:00] accessible, more commoditized, the source of information all of a sudden. Maybe that becomes a differentiating factor for businesses.

Authenticity is Better than A.I.

Nick: and I agree. And we’re actually, we use AI for some of the stuff that we do, like projects that we’re running for internally. I always say that authenticity can’t replace, like you can’t replace. AI with authenticity, it’s like people, it’s still the people that go back to what people first go to market.

Nick: Like you can’t replace human with ai and people can notice that. On LinkedIn now people are replying to LinkedIn posts with chat, G P T, like comment. It is just so easy to spot out, who’s using that? And it’s like, all right, you don’t actually add much value here. And it’s like we’re trying to figure out how to blend the two but not lose that human approach.

George: So do you think for us, we’ve grappled with this ourselves and we thought if anytime we create that content, if there’s humans at the center of it and then the AI is used to expand and I suppose repurpose it, then we’re okay with it. Have you reached a similar

Nick: Yeah. [00:36:00] Yeah, we’re doing some similar stuff right now where it’s like you still need a human to even check what AI basically did too, because so many people are just like, all right, cool. AI’s gonna write this blog post for me, and no one’s gonna check it and you’re just gonna basically ship it.

Nick: And it’s ah, that’s. That’s not a good idea. Like it might be great for a first draft or for a research for into something specifically, but if you don’t have a human that’s actually like checking that and like then taking it and making it their own it’s, I feel like that’s a little inauthentic.

George: Yeah, no I completely agree and. It’s gonna come across so quickly when an actual human reads it. If someone has any kind of knowledge about that topic, it’s so easy to pick out which one was written by AI and which one was written by the human. And I feel like we thought long and hard about this because we’ve largely been a, like an informational podcast for a long time.

George: We do our best to tell stories, but I think it’s something that we need to do more and more. And I think the further AI progresses. [00:37:00] The more that playing field is leveled in terms of that how-to content. And so we thought we’ve gotta really shift to telling stories because that’s not something AI can do.

George: Right?

Nick: and I feel like that’s the best type of content that’s out there is like when you’re talking from personal experience, you can’t replace personal experience.

George: Yeah. Yeah. That, and people get hooked on stories, right? That’s what makes us read something beginning to end and.


George: Do you think there’s a particular stage that a business should invest in hiring a brand evangelist?

When Should A Business Hire A Brand Evangelist?

Nick: I don’t know if there’s a specific stage, but I think it’s understanding if you want a specific outcome and you, I’m not saying that you should just hire like a brand evangelist and like that should be their only role. Like you could roll it into, Something else within the company as well. I think that’s okay, especially when you’re at an early stage company, like you have to blend the two because most people can’t afford to just pay that one salary when it’s like, all right, hold on, I need someone for events or someone for content plus this, or customer marketing plus this.

Nick: [00:38:00] I think it’s just understanding. What you would use it for? Would it be, and it’s easier when it’s in MarTech or sales tech because I feel like that’s where you’re seeing it most. Because then it’s the people that have built-in audiences that you’re borrowing to a certain degree to help amplify your message.

George: Okay. That, that makes a lot of sense. Nick, the anonymous marketer. Look, I, it’s an awesome podcast. I love it. You get some awesome guests on there. It’s a great concept for a show. I love the branding and everything you put around it. I told you it’s really inspired Kevin and I to up our game.

George: And it’s, to be honest, it’s helped us take our podcast to the next level in terms of engagement and listeners. So I really thank you for that. Tell me, what role does the anonymous marketer play for you in all of this?

Nick: Yeah. Honestly, it was something where I just wanted. To create a space where it was always an idea that I had, and I had a podcast before that called Rep Your Brand that was all about personal branding and I got to a point where I was just like, ah, I feel like personal branding and the word and the term, [00:39:00] like everyone’s talking about that it’s just played out.

Nick: I did it for two years, but I feel like. There’s so many marketers out there that have questions that are afraid of being judged, and even people turned to communities before, right when the pandemic happened, everyone turned to communities. However, now the communities are so oversaturated. Lots of times your colleagues are in these communities as well, and you still don’t feel comfortable asking the questions.

Nick: So I wanted to give a space for marketers to be like, Hey, I’m just gonna submit this anonymous question. And I’ve gotten about 70 questions so far. And like I’m trying to get through all of my do, like it’s a biweekly show, so like I do one or two questions every episode and I’ve just been trying to focus on Hey, what can we do to start the conversation?

Nick: It’s not about what’s right or wrong, it’s about answering that question and getting the community engaged around it.

George: Oh look, and it’s very clearly resonated with people very deeply. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who listen to it. I see that you get so much engagement and feedback on the show, [00:40:00] and it’s for good reason. It’s speaking to those pains, fears, anxieties that we as marketers all have. And you’re doing awesome work there.

George: So thank you for doing

Nick: you means a lot.

George: Hey, I also saw that you just landed a deal to write a book around B2B influencer marketing and the creator economy. That’s so cool. What led you to that?

Nick: Yeah, it, it was interesting. I actually had no plans to do this at all. And this company reached out, was like, they pitched me on the idea and I was like, You know what, that’s actually cool. Cause for me, the future is I would love to go and be full-time creator and take like full-time content creator mix with some consulting and advising on the side.

Nick: Maybe you have a community aspect of it. But I was like, the book could help me get into further opportunities. Like, Again, I don’t care. Books don’t make money unless you’re like, some like huge popular writer. But you can use a book to basically say Hey, I have a book like, Would you let me speak at your event?

Nick: Would you let me keynote your conference for you and three, four years down the road, who knows? I might be headlining some [00:41:00] type of crazy conference because of it.

George: Oh, you absolutely will be. I firmly believe it. Like the way that you’re going, y you’ll get there. And I love that you’re building it in public too. Writing a book to solidify yourself as the go-to person. Who has that expertise, I think is so smart. It’s actually what Kevin and I set out to do two years ago and why we called it the B2B playbook.

George: But then as we got into writing, like we wrote the first, I don’t know, 40,000 words and then we were like, nah, this is taking too long. Let’s just make it a podcast. So now that’s why it’s the B2B Playbook podcast. One day it’ll be a book, but for now it’s a

Nick: I love that. That’s, yeah. But I feel like a podcast is a great foundational thing that will lead, cuz I think of like a, newsletter as well, like people create newsletters and then you could take all these, this content from the newsletters and your learnings and it’s like you’re putting it into the book as well.

Nick: And that’s why I’m trying to build all of these things together.

George: Yeah. Yeah, and I’d love. That you’re building it with the community [00:42:00] because look, if we just set out to write our book, it would’ve just been, sure. It’s based on our experiences. There’s a lot of helpful stuff in there, but we’ve just learned so much more by doing it in a format that’s a podcast and sharing it on LinkedIn and having two-way conversations with the listeners, with people like yourselves to add to this framework that one day will become.

George: A much more fruitful resource for everyone, and we would never have got that if we just set out to write the book and didn’t engage with the community at all.

Nick: A hundred percent.

George: Couple of questions just to scratch my own edge before we wrap this up. Nick as a content creator, is there a particular channel that you’re really doubling down on at the moment?

Nick: Yeah, I’m trying to get better on YouTube shorts, honestly. I feel most people I was talking to Morgan Ingram about this Todd Klauser and like a few others, and like they, they have really doubled down on like the YouTube. Todd extremely has done YouTube for years. And he’s a very big believer in shorts.

Nick: And, I’ve been trying to get better and what I’m doing right now is repurposing [00:43:00] my video content from say, TikTok to Instagram to YouTube. But I’ve been told that Hey, you should just double down and focus on YouTube as that first channel and then distribute to those other ones versus the other way around.

George: Yeah, interesting. That’s what we decided to do as well. We’ve been pushing pretty heavily into shorts and if we post the full version of this as a long format video, it’s a fair bit of work. Sometimes those shorts, like he put a little, a decent amount into taking these short clips and turning ’em to something that’s attractive and they get two, 300 views and they’re around for 36 hours, and then they just disappear forever.

George: It can be a little bit heartbreaking, but I don’t know. It, it works like it works. It’s just a bit of a grind. It’s like anytime you push into a new channel.

Nick: Yeah. But I do feel like that is the future, not only for like just creators, but like B2B companies should be focused on that as well.

George: Yeah. Why did you, I know you’re on TikTok a lot are you more bullish on YouTube than TikTok? [00:44:00] Is that just because of like our particular audience?

Nick: Yeah. Honestly, it’s probably cuz I started on TikTok before YouTube. But it’s just, TikTok could be gone tomorrow if they banned in the US and it’s I feel like YouTube is something that, it’s a channel that will be around and more and more companies will invest in. And even I’ve, I was talking to someone the other day about running like ads on like YouTube and like they’re seeing like tremendous success right now as running it there versus a lot of other channels.

George: Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s a place where people go to learn, like the context of the channel is so important as well, right? Like TikTok, the videos are so incredibly entertaining. And I’m just, I don’t know, like I go to YouTube to learn. I go to TikTok to be entertained more. And so maybe that mindset is what makes like running those ads more fruitful on a channel like that versus something like TikTok.

Nick: absolutely. I think that’s a good point too.

George: Nick, look, you’ve been so generous with your time. You’ve got twins, you’ve got twins [00:45:00] crying in the background. You poor thing.

Nick: I know,

George: I hope everything’s okay.

Nick: yeah, usually they’re supposed to be sleeping. I’m not sure what they’re doing.

George: Look, again, I think you’re onto like two massive opportunities for B2B companies. I think you that you’re really doubling down on that importance of the human connection, and I just think that’s gonna be more and more important as the world gets noisier. I want to personally thank you for really showing us other creators in the B2B space that, there’s a clear path forward and thank you for paving the way for us.

George: Before we ran out the conversation, is there anything you’d like to direct our audience’s attention to or anything else you’d like to add to the conversation?

Nick: It was fantastic. I would say, if you do have questions around like evangelism, the creator economy or things like that, follow my content on LinkedIn, I give, I try to give everything away for free. I have a newsletter. Specifically around the creator economy. Now that’s, a biweekly newsletter, so I’m trying to go a little bit deeper there. But yeah, follow my content on LinkedIn. I post two times a day for the most part. Try to deliver value and if you find value, awesome, shoot [00:46:00] me a dm.

George: Can verify. He always provides value. Make sure you follow Nick, follow his journey. We’ll link to his LinkedIn profile, the anonymous marketer and all the other juicy resources in the show notes. Nick, thank you so much for

Nick: Yeah, appreciate you having me. This was a lot of fun.

George: Cheers.

Kev: hey George, you were really spot on when you said to Nick that he really helped us level up our game as content creators and help us in the B2B marketing space. What a great example of all the things we talk about on the show and the embodiment of someone. Who is really excelling at that brand evangelism role.

Kev: Something I’m still learning to do over time. Obviously you’re doing a lot more there, George, and kudos to you for taking more inspiration so far. But it’s absolutely amazing to get the insights he had on that front.

George: Oh, Nick is definitely pushing us to be better and it was so amazing to have him on and connect with him. And look, let’s not forget all the great things that Airme doing on the events led growth side. It really goes well with all the things that we [00:47:00] talked about in the event related episodes so far on the show.

George: It’s a fantastic channel for B2B marketers to revisit with a new lens or perspective. And see what kind of revenue impact it can actually deliver. Now remember, it’s all part of the B2B workflow optimization process, so there is no better time to look at it than now.

Kev: Listeners, we love these key points from Nick. The first being the old way of doing events is no longer working. So we talked a lot about how, the classic lunchtime webinar, everyone’s getting a bit sick of that, particularly after the pandemic events.

Kev: Really can’t be siloed like that anymore and really can’t be siloed within businesses either, and everyone really needs to get involved to make events really successful. Secondly, make sure to change it up and focus on micro events. So we’ve seen Nick give some really good examples of how micro events can really change the game here and really start to deliver those quality experiences for a quality group of people.

Kev: That old, a dodge of quality over [00:48:00] quantity applies here, so you really need that quality there to then get the results you want, get the quality engagement, and it’s cheaper and you’ll probably get better returns for your investment as well.

George: Okay. The third point that we had here was make sure you do everything you can to keep the conversation going after that event. Be helpful. And bringing brand evangelists into your business is an amazing way to help do that.

George: It’s where you’re gonna start to see significant turns, particularly if you do it right. All right, listeners, go and find Nick Bennett on LinkedIn, and as always, Kevin and I are absolutely stoked that more and more of you are joining us every Monday morning by listening to the podcast or watching us on YouTube.

George: If we can ask one thing, it would be to please pass the show and to someone that might enjoy it and get value from it or leave us a short review on whatever platform it is that you listen on. It’s an amazing help to us. It’s a huge help to our listeners, future listeners, and we’d really, really appreciate it.

George: Take care and catch you next week.

Kev: Thanks, George. Thanks Nick. Thank you, listeners and catchall next week.

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Episode 91