In our Behind the Conversations series, we put the marketing heroes you don’t hear about so often in the well-deserved spotlight.
Marketing is every bit of contact a company has with anyone in the outside world. What challenges do modern marketers face in the conversations their companies have with their clients? And where do they go for inspiration?
This time around, we talked to Jason Etter about his marketing campaigns and messaging strategies at mobile-first employee communication and 'experience' platform, Staffbase.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m the US Director of Marketing for Staffbase. Staffbase is an end-to-end employee communications platform to engage the hard-to-reach. Our passion is people. People-first companies win.
Our solution helps hundreds of organizations across the globe reshape their corporate communications and information-sharing plans into simple, intuitive, and pleasant experiences. Something rather timely are our capabilities to streamline crisis management and communications.
Coronavirus has exponentially increased the urgency of sharing relevant, timely, and specific information across large enterprises. We’re seeing first-hand the importance and impact our solution provides:
What I do is work with about 30 incredible folks on the global marketing team who are focused on both the art and science of marketing. We’re a team consisting of writers, designers, developers, influencers, performance managers, and social gurus. Together we find ways to reach our target markets with actionable content that helps make our audience have a more pleasant day than the previous.
What led you into marketing?
Writing has always been a passion of mine. I spent a good portion of my younger life in theatre writing and directing stage plays. I’ve been in love with understanding and creating stories about people since I can remember.
In my 20s, I worked as an Ad Manager for a local newspaper and got my first real taste of marketing. Seeing one of my own block ads surrounded by narrative gave me a new appreciation for commanding attention.
Of course, this experience evolved rapidly into the digital realm. After a few hurdles into sales, business development, and even running a small company, I landed in marketing full-time.
I’m currently pursuing my second masters in Digital Marketing at Rutgers Business School. If you’re new to marketing or looking to refine your skills, I highly recommend looking into this program.
Please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn if you have any direct questions.
What are the marketing tools you can’t live without?
Two of my favorite “tools” are actually people… or podcasts:
My favorite marketing solution is Qualified. I learned about this company when the founders appeared on Marketing Trends (there’s podcast ROI!). They have an incredible platform for conversational marketing that’s easy to use (regardless of being on the marketing or sales team). I actually sat down and spoke with the Qualified team about my passion for their product and conversational marketing.
I’m also a big fan of HubSpot when it comes to managing a single source for all of your landing pages. It’s a hell of a lot easier to read their reports and dashboards than Google Analytics -although that perspective is changing.
In particular, here’s a quote from Halligan that encapsulates what I think inbound is:
“I used to feel like the best products always won and what you sold was really important. I think more and more it’s about how you sell it. …Creating that end-to-end delightful experience in business model that really matches the human behavior.”
I love the idea of leveraging data to create a gorgeous end-to-end experience for your customer from marketing. Without clear communication and alignment, a company will struggle to build strong and lasting relationships with its customers. (AMEN!)
At its core, inbound is all about being human. Inbound has huge applications for how you find, grow, recruit, and retain your team. The recruiting and growth process both the candidate and employee experience need to be inherently human and that means inherently inbound. That’s inbound. I love it and I don’t think I’ll ever feel otherwise.
Furthermore, my obsession with understanding the data behind those pages has turned my eyes to Salesforce and a slew of other tools.
When I’m not with my favorite people (my wife and two children) I’m usually reading.
Here are five books I’ve recently read that you should read if you haven’t:
- Conversational Marketing
- Play Bigger
- X: The Experience When Business Meets Design
- 80/20 Sales and Marketing
- Ogilvy On Advertising
- (Bonus, because I’m reading it right now) The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing
Where do you go to get inspiration?
Easy. The people I work with and the people that use our solution.
What campaign/piece of work are you most proud of?
Since joining Staffbase, we’ve been putting together a content series called Communications Academy. Recently, we ran a three part series that I was especially proud of.
- How to Improve internal Communication Readership
- 5 Easy Ways to Write Better Copy for Internal Comms
- How to Make High Quality Video for $0.00
What made this three-part series especially meaningful to me was that it was very focused on our target audience and we wanted to deliver a short actionable message. They’ve performed well!
We’ve gotten some great feedback on the podcast. In fact, our friends at Contact Monkey listed us in their Top 20 Internal Comms podcasts in 2019. We really appreciated that nod!
How does your company converse with its clients?
The content series (i.e. Communications Academy) has given me a lot of opportunities to talk with our clients. I enjoy any chance I get to have a face-to-face with the people using Staffbase. This could be a Google Hangout, Zoom, VoIP call, or in-person meeting. If it involves sitting down and learning, I’m interested.
Also, conversational marketing is something I’m deeply passionate about. In many cases, conversational marketing gets wrapped up into chatbots. Although leveraging chat tools is a major element of conversational marketing, there’s more conversations to be had outside of your website.
Social channels like LinkedIn groups, relevant hashtags on Twitter, and even Facebook communities continue to generate meaningful conversations.
What are some challenges you face in these conversations?
Relevance. My tendency is to give too much. However, think about the last time you walked into a brick and mortar shop.
What was your experience like between the employees? Did you feel like you were greeted with kindness and received the information you sought after or did you feel something less satisfactory? Did that experience make you leave sooner and empty handed?
That’s the challenge.
I’m constantly working to uncover how to give a visitor the right experience. This is where data and art merge beautifully but require a ton of trial and error.
How are you planning to solve these challenges in the near future?
Honestly, I’ll probably screw up a lot because I like to take chances and experiment. At the same time, I’m finding more and more opportunities to finally understand the value of data.
There’s a massive, messy heap of information available. Some of it’s free. Some of it’s not. None of it is the answer but I respect it and strive to learn how to use it better.
Could you share some cool future experiments on your roadmap?
I’m really excited about 2020. Our top priority for 2020 is to advocate that we are the only mobile-first intranet.
It’s going to be a really exciting campaign and help a lot of great people finally feel appreciated and reachable.
On a final note: I’ve been at Staffbase for a year now and have developed a deep appreciation for the value our solution brings to the enterprise space. I love working with our incredible sales team. If you’re in marketing and you’re not working closely with your sales team, stop what you’re doing and change your priorities.
Sales and marketing share a linear path for the prospect journey. In order to do that well, it takes time, effort, and a lot of collaboration on message. Don’t mess that up!
Interested in participating in our Behind the Conversations series? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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