Starting a new marketing position at a technical B2B can be a daunting time. How can you ramp up and add value quickly?
Alicia Keene, Inbound Marketing Specialist at TREW Marketing, has been the new marketer on the scene many times over. Through her experiences at an electronic components manufacturer and multi-client work at an agency, she quickly figured out that devoting time to learn and absorb in the early months will lead to higher quality and impactful work.
During the episode, Alicia walks through 8 key steps for a new marketer to follow when ramping up with a new technical B2B company. They include:
- Hear a company overview presentation
- Study the marketing plan and review key content and branding assets
- Review historical marketing content and collateral
- Research the industry and competition
- Research keywords and perform a content gap analysis
- Meet with technical subject matter experts (SMEs)
- Shadow your colleagues
- Be a sponge! Absorb information and ask questions
Be sure to catch the end of the episode with Alicia's advice for Marketing Managers who are planning to onboard new marketing staff.
- Alicia Keene on LinkedIn
- Blog post: 8 Steps for Mastering the Technical Learning Curve
- Podcast episode: Recruiting and Retaining Content Marketing Talent with Lee Chapman
Speaker 1: When you start a new position in a technical company, as a marketer, it can be a daunting task to bring yourself up to speed with all the solutions that company offers. Who they target with your differentiators are, let alone just master the mechanics of your job. So today I'm bringing on a marketer who's been there several times and identified eight key steps in ramping up quickly when working with a new technical client or technical company. Let's do this.
Speaker 2: Welcome to Content Marketing Engineered. Your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Here is your host, Wendy Covey.
Speaker 1: Hi and welcome to Content Marketing Engineered. On each episode, I'll break down an industry trend challenge or best practice in reaching technical audiences. You'll meet colleagues, friends and clients of mine who will stop by to share their stories. And I hope that you leave each episode feeling inspired and ready to take action. Before we jump in, I'd like to give a brief shout out to my agency. True Marketing. True is a full service agency located in beautiful Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information, visit true marketing dot com. And now on with our podcast. Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of Content Marketing Engineered. I'm joined today by Alicia Keene. She's an inbound marketing specialist with our own TREW Marketing. Welcome to the show, Alicia.
Speaker 3: Hi. Good to be here.
Speaker 1: I am thrilled to have you here. I think you're the perfect person to come on and discuss our topic today because you've worked both on the client side with a manufacturing company, and now you're working on the agency side where you're working with several engineering companies. So you have a lot to offer to this subject today. But before we jump in, I think it would be great if you could just walk me through your career progression as a marketer.
Speaker 3: Okay. So I started off as a journalism person in college, actually did investigative journalism. And when I was leaving college, I was like, you know what? I actually kind of want to go to grad school and to be a better investigative journalist. Somewhere along that line, working on MBA. I realized we actually really like marketing and see similar benefits and same at the bottom line, like what I liked about journalism. I got that same thing with marketing and that's research. Learning about topics, talking about it, condensing information into something for other people to read and understand. And so when I left college or graduate school, I went to an electronic component company where I spent three and a half years doing all kinds of hats, you name it. And I, I did that. So and then all that true accounting, all different kinds of companies. So yeah.
Speaker 1: Well, as part of your onboarding to true and of course with your previous company, you really had to figure out how to master that technical learning curve when you first started engaging with the company. And you've had to do this many times, and I know it has since I know you, you're very analytical. And so it was no surprise to me when I heard that you had identified eight key steps to just help accelerate this onboarding process. So let's just launch in what's number one.
Speaker 3: Number one is find someone who is experienced with giving like the corporate edge and having them walk you through like the corporate deck and really explain the bottom line basics. What is it? What is the company? What do they do? What industry are you in? And really set that solid foundation that you can kind of build everything else off it. I mean, if you don't understand the company and the industry and you don't have that basic thing. You're going to be scrambling a little bit. So and then take that pitch deck and pin it somewhere or so even on your your home screen, whatever is most like natural. Bookmark it so you can frequently like go back to it later and remind yourself, what are we trying to do here at this company?
Speaker 1: I love this suggestion for a few reasons. Sometimes companies have very outdated information on their website, sadly, and that might be why they're hiring you as that marketer to begin with. But that pitch deck is usually kept pretty darn up to date if they're, you know, targeting customers with it or investors. And then you can have a dynamic conversation and ask questions as part of this and really build trust with either that executive or salesperson, whoever is presenting it. So I think there's a lot of good to be had here. So I love that that's number one and advice.
Speaker 3: But I realize myself as the times I have had someone do that for me it just gets like a set me that much more ahead of things than I would have otherwise. So cool.
Speaker 1: Okay. All right, what's next?
Speaker 3: And once you kind of have that, like, overview of like the big company, well, now it's time to learn your marketing and go through whatever available like marketing assets you have, like your buyer personas, your marketing plan, if there is one content calendar, if there is one, if there's a key terms list that, you know, this is what we call things, are there acronyms that you need to know about other products you know about and really kind of ingratiate yourself with how is marketing meeting the goals set in that pitch deck that you just went through? How is marketing attacking the their plan to meet the business goals?
Speaker 1: I like making that connection between the business and the marketing goals. And is is it tied together or is it disjointed? You know, you might uncover some gaps there, huh?
Speaker 3: Oh, yeah, I've definitely seen that before.
Speaker 1: I mean, hopefully not.
Speaker 3: But yeah, hopefully not.
Speaker 1: But all right, then what's number three?
Speaker 3: Week number three is then. Hey, now that you have that. Big overview was the company try and do you have that kind of overview was marketing try to go through and now see what marketing has done like what have they done in the past? Like audit your content, audit what is there to see? Like Is there content for that? But I hope you grasp that like eat like lower level or that you know, the information about what is this product, what is it, do you know I'm not that product pillar page. See what it says. Are there cues that have, you know, the questions that you're wondering about this product there that you can like review down to even, you know, white paper or a datasheet if you're brave enough and feel capable enough to go and do what that you know about a particular project or product and kind of do the analysis of what content is out there, what it can teach you about the items that you're seeing in the in the business overview and in the marketing overview and see what's missing or what could help you fill in those gaps.
Speaker 1: Okay. Right, then what?
Speaker 3: Then what I am. So then this is where I kind of diverge of those three you had to do in that order. And the next steps I kind of identified four or five is research. And you've done a lot of at this point internal research about the company, about the products, about the marketing, and now kind of look outward to customers and.
Speaker 1: Wondered when customers was coming in.
Speaker 3: There. Yeah. And industries, you know what look at the those kind of platforms to see what are customers wanting, what are they searching for, what do they you know, were they asking with surveys they said in surveys that they like to hear and know about what your competitors doing and kind of getting a feeling for what the industry is saying that you may not already have from the training you done from your internal research.
Speaker 1: Yeah. And really understanding the key applications that the customers are accomplishing with your solution, I think is a big one because it's one thing to say, Oh, we do automotive or automotive test, but to understand what does that mean? Like what exactly is it? Oh, it's Dynamo Motor Test, or it's testing this piece of the car or, you know, just getting really deep in those applications. And, you know, you don't really need to know technically how the solution is delivered, right? But just what pain point is solved, what is accomplished that the customer can do.
Speaker 3: Exactly. And, you know, like terms that have come up in in your internal researching, you know, you may not have heard of it before. So Google it like don't be afraid to Google and see what is what it is. What is it? You know.
Speaker 1: What? There are term their acronyms and then the technical companies. I can't believe you said that, Alisha. Surely not.
Speaker 3: Yeah.
Speaker 1: So, goodness, like every day.
Speaker 3: I'm your best friend, essentially.
Speaker 1: And only.
Speaker 3: So. Yeah.
Speaker 1: Yeah. I love you mentioned if the company has a guide to those technical terms and I love when companies do that. I think that just is another way to help people on board quickly.
Speaker 3: So, yes, this is.
Speaker 1: It's great. What about actually talking to customers? I know that's something that marketers don't always have the opportunity to do, but it sure seems like a golden opportunity.
Speaker 3: Yeah. I mean, if you had actually awesome send out surveys, you know, like a given the company, there's different ways to approach it. Maybe you shadowed a colleague on in sales I've done that before is actually one of my later steps in the process. Or you know, if you have email marketing, send out a survey through there, maybe get the sales team to help you put something together. Yeah. See what, what research has already been done. What? Happy parties over the audience in the past of what they said and.
Speaker 1: Write because voice of customer may have been done, particularly if you're joining a larger organization and then for smaller, really like some of your suggestions there and always partnering with sales right from the beginning.
Speaker 3: Yeah, some the best thing you can do is write it in the front burner sales, get their, their intake into what you know, what they see, what they know and yeah. Get their advice on things.
Speaker 1: So so it sounds like a jumped ahead on your list. I'm sorry, what what else is on there?
Speaker 3: Hey, the second one is kind of going deeper into research of keyword research and delving into like, you know, Google search console and Mars, you know, all, all the different SEO platforms or platforms and seeing what how are people wording things, you know, like your company might have terms that they use, but they don't. That may not be exactly what the customer uses or says or you might, you know, be, you know, missing out on concepts that, you know, you were you're still learning like A in C, but maybe there's a B piece that like if you you see that point, you're like, oh, that helps explain that A-plus B it we'll see. So I have filled in a lot of gaps just by going into like your research and finding connected terms and then kind of doing like a content gap analysis of, you know, what do we not have information about that? And I need to learn to better do my job.
Speaker 1: And that's an incredible way to add value with a company that has it touch that in a while, which is pretty common to sort of set it and forget it when it comes to content strategy related to SEO and keywords. So I think this is just a massive way to come in and already just say, here's this great insight that I'm providing that's very actionable.
Speaker 3: Exactly. You're you're you're taking all this learning you're doing and just contextualizing it and finding those gaps. And then you provide recommendations immediately of here's where we target price. We're trying to say is a target mess. We're trying to do. We're not really meeting this message or this message or this product. We don't have the the content across the spectrum, across the buyer's journey to meet what we're trying to do here. There you go. Or maybe you'll find a topic or a topic cluster or a keyword that you're like, we really should be hitting upon this because everyone else, our industry is. And that's a big gap for us. So. All right, good one.
Speaker 1: What else you got?
Speaker 3: And at this point, it's kind of going into whether some of the areas you should be doing along the way, not necessarily in a like a step one to step two. But really, while all of it is meet with your SMS, especially the earlier you can get in with them to sit down with them for an hour, say, you know someone who's knowledgeable on a specific topic or product or service and have them explain the basics to you. When I first heard of my old company, I remember meeting with all of the engineers, you know, my first. Don't 60 days, I would say, and once a week just have like a lesson with them. They would teach, like sit down with one of the engineers that was knowledgeable on a key product and then walk me through the basics, which would help. Then as I was developing content going forward, these concepts are starting to come together. And then over time I was able to be like self fulfilling on my content, didn't have to go to them every single time to help me create something or source something and be like, okay, now this. I'll create this piece, have them review it, see if it's accurate. Yes, it is. Let's get to go. And so we are really seeing now goes some years. And if you don't have one like people already set in place, find them and help your company get it, get it set some strategy put together. Because I having dedicated subject matter expert times like devoted to helping marketing is kind of a critical piece to marketing for technical companies.
Speaker 1:Yeah, absolutely. And and I would add, just don't be afraid to ask questions that seem stupid because oftentimes they're not. And oftentimes it uncovers, you know, maybe a gap in how things are communicated. You know, so I remember, you know, back in the day when I was at National Instruments, having product managers present to us on, you know, their product family and maybe it was the launch coming up or it was just general education. And we were all like maybe not following something or didn't understand the acronyms. And there'd always be one or two brave people in the room raising their hands, asking the questions that we were all thinking. And without that extra bit of knowledge, we would have had a gap in our understanding of things. So if you have someone who's patient and willing to sit down with you, I think that that's great advice.
Speaker 3: And I actually love that you said that because in my experience, they're like subject matter experts, product managers at these engineers are very, very willing to, you know, give you that information. And to them, there probably aren't any dumb questions because they know that you're new at this. You know, like they're they want you to learn. They want to help you and they want to help you be self-sufficient, you know, because they're all pressed for time. So the more they can enable you like, the better for them in the long run. So I've always found them to be very willing and, you know, helpful as long as you're willing to put in the work and, you know, care about it as well.
Speaker 1: Great. Yeah. Okay. What have we missed? I haven't been counting.
Speaker 3: I am. So at this point, it's that the final step is really just be a sponge, you know, kind of like I was saying, set up meetings and sit in on meetings, especially with this is where the the shadow your colleague is comes in the place. Shadow sales, shadow engineering, shadow. Like people doing a service so that you can see, you know, how do they talk with customers? How do you what do customers ask, what are they? What are they caring about? And really sit in on those and just kind of be a fly on the wall and hear things can be super helpful to kind of get an idea of how the business operates and what, you know, what are people caring about which isn't that the last one of the like the true be as kind of sit down meetings learn rinse repeat, keep going, you know, don't just stop here, keep learning, keep research and keep willing to immerse yourself.
Speaker 1: I absolutely love that and think that's so important to watch. Just how how are people interacting? How are decisions made? You know, is this a collaborative organization or is it more top down decision making process and just the tone of voice? And there's so many things you can learn by shadowing. And I think that sometimes when we start something new, we're so eager to impress and and, you know, make our mark. But by absorbing first, you're going to be more likely to be more accurate and spot on with the work that you're doing, your recommendations. And I think you've done such a great job of that. When you first came into true marketing of absorbing and being that sponge, but also seeing gaps of knowledge that you could immediately fill. And so you just did a great job of adding immediate value while learning on the job. And so I see all of this in practice in your ramp up time at true. So that's great.
Speaker 3: Yeah. And and especially with the processes you know by. By shadowing your team members. Like what are the tribal knowledge that you really can't get from an associate distributors, your sales reps, if you have cross departmental processes that can be a little bit complex and maybe aren't all well aligned. You can really get an understanding for the for how that all interconnects and what pieces you're should be involved in and how that can inform your next steps and what you do.
Speaker 1: So if I'm a manager and I'm listening to this and I am about to onboard a new email marketing specialist, say or content writer or any other, you know, marketing person, I'm doing a net add to my team. What are some pieces of advice that you have for them based on your own experience that you've shared today?
Speaker 3: What's the point? Set them up for success at success by really giving them a good, clear onboarding process and tell them where they can find the key assets. And, you know, right down here is where this this corporate overview deck is and tell them who they can meet with and who they can set up meetings with to get things going and initiate things. And if there's key content pieces that you should they should be listening to or watching or reading where there's out. Like I had a boss who, you know, would write down these are our products, and we had sales trainings that we recorded and cut for the sales team. Well, those new prime launch videos and everything are actually very good for teaching a new marketing person as well. You know, watch this video to hear the basics of what we're teaching our sales team and really provide kind of those key assets and help enable that if they show that they have the buy in that they need from the other departments, especially when it comes like meeting with SMEs. And it really helps if there's already that buying in place so that the best things you are probably are pressed for time and have a lot going on and have them, you know, are, you know, they can spend time doing this and like can help you. And yeah. Enabling that process. So be supportive. Yeah.
Speaker 1: And I know very early on you had mentioned reviewing the marketing plan as I think of step two maybe or three, it was very early in the process. And I think as part of that, really talking about not only goals but how are we measured as an organization, what are our KPIs? And you know, some are short term campaign related, but just the overarching essence of how is success defined for marketing? And you know, it can be so different because I was just recording another podcast where impressions and awareness were the greatest thing and so many other organizations. It's qualified leads and influence sales, and there's a very different ways to measure success in marketing. And so just knowing what you're, you know, expected to be contributing to is really important as well.
Speaker 3: That is the expectation is definitely key. There is knowing what you're getting yourself into and knowing that you can provide that value and also to make sure that your expectations being set are make sense. Even like sometimes they don't always align. So you have to make sure that it is feasible and then you know that you can meet that you.
Speaker 1: So ask questions.
Speaker 3: Ask questions. Ask questions. Do research. Never forget that I do so. And just for me why I got in marketing in the first place.
Speaker 1: You are you're you're a lifelong learner and an analytical person. And but you have this creative side. So a perfect blend for a marketing professional. And I really appreciate you sharing your perspective with us today. Where can people connect with you and learn more on this subject?
Speaker 3: See, I'm on LinkedIn, so connect with me there. The blog post I posted is online now, so bring go to the true blog post website to find it. And yeah, those are kind of two very key ways.
Speaker 1: Okay. Well, I will put a link to your blog post in our show notes. And the blog post is called Mastering the Technical Learning Curve in B2B Marketing. So you guys can Google that as well and find it. So thank you for your time today. Alicia.
Speaker 3: You having me?
Speaker 1: Thanks for joining me today on content marketing engineered for show notes, including links to resources visit, true marketing dot.com slash podcast. While there you can subscribe to our blog and our e-newsletter and order a copy of my book. Content Marketing Engineer. Also, I would love your reviews on this podcast, so please, when you get a chance, subscribe and leave me a review on your favorite podcast subscription platform. Thanks and have a great day.
Wendy Covey is a CEO, a technical marketing leader, author of Content Marketing, Engineered, one of The Wall Street Journal’s 10 Most Innovative Entrepreneurs in America, and she holds a Texas fishing record. She resides in a small Hill Country town southwest of Austin, Texas, where she enjoys outdoor adventures with her family.
TREW Marketing is a strategy-first content marketing agency serving B2B companies that target highly technical buyers. With deep experience in the design, embedded, measurement and automation, and software industries, TREW Marketing provides branding, marketing strategy, content development, and digital marketing services to help customers efficiently and effectively achieve business goals.