Transcript: Reducing Customer Time to Value and Building Your Personal Brand with Nick Bennett

On this episode, I was joined by Nick Bennett, Senior Director of Event Led Growth and Evangelism at Airmeet. He’s also a B2B marketing content creator with over 50,000 followers on LinkedIn and previously led evangelism and customer marketing at Alyce. We spoke about one of his most successful strategies that helped reduce customer time to value from 90 days to 45 days in two months, how he would frame the importance of customer marketing internally, and how becoming a content creator (or just sharing your learnings and experiences more consistently) can help set you up for long-term success on the job market. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Nick. 

Margot Leong: Nick, thank you so much for joining us on Beating the Drum. I’m really excited to have you with us. 

Nick Bennett: I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me. 

Margot Leong: Of course. Well, let’s start off with understanding a little bit more about your background and the journey to your current role. 

Nick Bennett: I’ll start with school because I feel like that’s an interesting kind of point. I went to school for sports management and my dream was to get out and be a big shot athletic director or a sports agent. And to be honest, I only went to school to play baseball. I got out and I realized that I could go sell tickets for the Red Sox making $10 an hour.

I was like, ah like what do I do? Like I’m out of school, like sports management, there’s no real jobs. So I ended up going into sales and I feel like that kind of helped my marketing career because I walked in sales’ shoes. I didn’t do sales for tech, but I did sales in a lot of other industries and it was very interesting. Kind of helped ground me to where I think I am today, and understanding sales that much more and kind of working with them a lot better. 

So I did sales for a few years and I just randomly came across a role that was like a channel marketing role. And channel marketing is very much like field marketing, but you’re just working through channel partners.

And that was my first jump into marketing. And it was for a fiber optics company. It wasn’t that exciting. It was actually quite boring, to be honest with you. I got laid off. It was probably for the best of everything anyways. First time being laid off too, and I was just like, my boss was crying. I was like, why is she so upset? I don’t know. I’m a very laid back person. 

From there, I jumped into field marketing and that’s where I spent the majority of my career in field marketing, which for anyone that doesn’t know what field marketing is, it’s like you’re the closest extension to the sales team. You’re working with them, pre COVID, in a very much territory based environment, back when people actually traveled and covered territories, and you would work with them through events, through content, through messaging. You were like the CMO of a specific region. So I always worked the East coast because I was just based outside of Boston.

And I did that for a while. It was really good. I got really good at being a field marketer. I moved up and started leading teams and I was like, all right, this is cool. I was known as like the field marketing person on LinkedIn. It was when I started creating content, it was March of 2020 and I talked about field marketing because out of, at the time, 610 million users on LinkedIn, no one talked about field marketing: what it actually was, the misconceptions, how it plays into a revenue organization, all those things. 

And so I talked about that. I doubled down and people were like, okay, you’re the field marketing person. I was like, I don’t wanna be labeled as just a field marketing person. I wanna be known for like myself. 

So I was like, you know what? I wanna kind of like go out and explore and see what other options. And I was at a company called Alyce and I did so many different things there. I was there for just about two years, but I did ABM, I did field marketing, I did community, and then I jumped over to customer marketing.

And it was right before the downturn happened back in like 2022, right when companies were starting to see, Ooh, it’s going to be iffy for a little bit. My boss at the time was like, Hey, I’m seeing some things. I’ve been talking to the board. Would you be open to moving to customer marketing? I’m telling you this because I’m gonna probably save you from a job perspective down the road. 

And I was like, yeah, I’ve never done customer marketing before. Why not? And I jumped into customer marketing. I was like, I wanna do the customer marketing because I’ve always talked to customers. It’s always been incredibly important to me. But I said, I want evangelism as a piece of that. 

And I just did the customer marketing thing, which was new to me. And I had to rely on a whole set of new tools and people in my network that I didn’t typically talk to or were even connected to. So that was really fun. 

And then it brought me to Airmeet where I lead the event led growth, I lead partnerships, I lead social media, community, this whole creator led growth approach that we’re doing, we’re creating this creator studio. Then the evangelism piece, which is again, trying to evangelize what event led growth is in today’s world. 

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I see myself as a content creator and that’s been incredibly important to me and I feel like sharing my thoughts has been a really nice outlet. It’s been a really fun journey, especially these last two to three years have been really rewarding.

Margot Leong: You’ve definitely run the gamut in terms of a lot of different types of marketing, but also that background in sales. And so I think, when you get that taste for talking to customers, that sort of stays with you, right. And to be able to work with them directly in this way with customer marketing is so fantastic. 

But something caught my attention when you said that your role at Alyce, right? It was originally more ABM, field marketing, community, and then your boss basically said, Hey, things are starting to turn a little bit. Maybe we’ll transition you into customer marketing. That’s really interesting. What was it about customer marketing specifically that they thought would be valuable at this more tenuous time in tech? 

Nick Bennett: I feel like net revenue retention and just the whole side of retention in general became more important. Marketing budgets were being cut. Why? We all know it costs less to retain a customer than to go out and acquire a new one.

So we said let’s just double our efforts on retaining our current customers and serving them really well and run off of expansion revenue from that. We’ll still keep the lights on on the other side, but I was just like, you know what? I was already talking to a lot of the customers. I was on calls with customers on a regular basis. 

It just made sense and was my boss looking out for me? And funny enough, I brought him into the company. He was a mentor of mine for years. And yeah, that’s probably it too. And I’m definitely appreciative of that piece of it because I probably would’ve got caught up in the layoffs anyways. But it turned out really well because, I’ll be honest with you, I have no interest in becoming a CMO. It’s just not something that I want to do. 

But as a marketer, the more that I can understand the customer and the voice of the customer and how it all plays together from both the growth side as well as the retention side, I think it just makes me a better, more valuable marketer at the end of the day.

Margot Leong: When we did our pre-call, right? I asked what did customer marketing entail at a company like Alyce and you boil it down very simply, which is essentially it’s all about decreasing time to value, right? 

So I’d love to get into some of those programs that you were experimenting with in order to achieve that goal. And maybe set the scene for us a little bit in terms of target audience, right? What was that customer demographic like? Size of company. And then we can go from there.

Nick Bennett: We were pretty much selling mostly to like mid-market. I would say anywhere from 200 to 700 employees was our sweet spot. Tech, obviously, is where we won most of our deals just because they understood it. A lot of them were using direct mail platforms or experimenting with gifting in direct mail, so it just made a lot more sense. And our ACV was about 25K, which wasn’t bad. It wasn’t a very technical sale. It was pretty straightforward, and we could close a lot of deals in a month and a half to two months.

But our time to value was very important because we were a SaaS product. We didn’t sign multi-year contracts, it was 12 months and we ran the numbers and most of our customers weren’t seeing any value and what we determined value was the ability to send 20 gifts and have those accepted.

So like you’re actually in the platform, you’re adopting it, things like that. And there was a few other pieces that went with it, but once you hit those couple things, you were technically ready to go, and so most of our customers were seeing 90 days time to value, which isn’t good. 

It’s like, all right, cool. So you’re three months into a 12 month contract and you’re just maybe seeing value or at the point where you’re about to see value. What happens if that three months goes into 4, 5, 6 months? It’s like, all right, cool. Two quarters of the year are already gone and then you’re not waiting till the last month to renew someone.

So you’re trying to get a renewal 180 days or 90 days in. People aren’t renewing because it’s like, well, I haven’t even seen any value yet. 

Margot Leong: So you were saying that most of the customers are seeing 90 days time to value. How did you pull that data, right? Was that something that was very easily captured in a massive dashboard somewhere, or is that something where you had to dig in a little bit to get to that point? 

Nick Bennett: Yeah, it was a little bit we had to dig, but we had all of our CSMs, they tracked this in a dashboard so we could specifically see like, all right, cool. How long did it take you to send 20 gifts? How long did it take you to get those 20 gifts accepted? How long did it take you to integrate because if you’re using the product by itself and you’re not leveraging the integrations into a CRM or a map, it’s like, eh, you’re probably not seeing as much value because at that point it’s like, all right, why don’t you just go to Amazon and buy stuff and just ship it to someone?

But the beauty and where the results come in is when you actually leverage, we had 30 integrations. And it was like, some of these intent platforms we integrated with. So it was like, all right, you could see when was the right time in that person’s journey to actually gift them and then with the right message. 

And our whole thing was we were trying to fix, outbound is broken. So for tech companies, think about the outbound that you get. It’s copy and paste jobs that are terrible. You can see it from a mile away. There’s no personalization with it. 

Gifting by itself is bribery, but when you use gifting as part of the journey, it actually becomes something that’s really nice. But if you’re not personalizing with the gifting, it doesn’t see any value there. 

And so there was a big lack of education as well. Talking to these customers, there was just a lack of education on what gifting is and when to use direct mail. If you’re not figuring out the education piece, you’re also not going to decrease your time to value. So we tracked all of these things. At first it was in an Excel spreadsheet and we had each customer, it was very terrible. Then we ended up buying something and we were able to actually track that in software, it was a lot easier. 

But that was the whole thing. That was the one thing we had to fix. How do we decrease time to value from 90 days to under 30? Sub 30 was our goal. 

Margot Leong: How long did it take for you to understand and set the goal of 30 days to value instead of 90 days? How long did it take you to get to that point? 

Nick Bennett: It took a solid quarter, I would say, because it was more of just having those conversations as well. A big piece that I leveraged not knowing customer marketing or not doing it before was talking to others in my network who were customer marketers, and asking them what are the KPIs and metrics that you look at for seeing value and success from your customers?

And so some of them didn’t have decreased time to value, but there was a variation of it and I was like, oh, okay. That’s interesting. I mean, a lot of the KPIs and metrics that customer marketers looked at were very similar, but I feel like time to value is where you’re gonna see the biggest impact and you can move the needle. 

Because if you’re at sub 30 and you’re on a 12 month contract, that’s gonna be a lot easier for a marketer to go up to their CMO or VP of Marketing and be like, six months in, seven months in, Hey, I drove four million dollars in pipeline through these gifting campaigns. 30% of that closed. I think we renew. 

And then you have early renewals coming in. And so it’s all about that piece versus waiting, say you’re two quarters in, you’re not gonna have enough time to show ROI to your boss. And then they’re gonna be like we’re in a crunch. We’re gonna start to cut tech. This is gonna be one of the first things to go. 

Margot Leong: I think that is a really good point, right? If you think about any sort of purchase, whether consumer or b2b, the excitement level is usually highest at the beginning. So you want to try to, as you said, decrease that time to value, decrease the time to seeing it actually pay off so that you can keep that excitement going. Because it will decrease with all the other vendors or software that these people are using, so you get shoved to the side, right? Or it goes lower and lower on the list essentially. 

Nick Bennett: Absolutely. And ultimately it comes back to we understand that people buy from people. And so if you can make that experience and connection and relationship that much deeper through like the value that you show, not only like, yeah, they’re gonna talk to CSMs, but as a marketer, the amount of times that I offered up myself as a resource and said, Hey, I’ll jump on a 30 minute strategy call with you, and the amount of renewals that I was able to bring in early because of that is huge. 

Margot Leong: So then, this is one of my absolute favorite things is, okay, we’ve audited essentially the landscape. We now have an understanding of what is the goal and then it’s try and hit that goal. 

So what were some of the things, the experiments that you guys tried to get to this sub 30 days time to value? 

Nick Bennett: One of the big things, and honestly it was such an easy thing to do, was just an email to our customers. It was a weekly email. And I hate to say that we didn’t actually email our users. We emailed our champions and kept them up to date on things. It was the CSMs, but we never actually emailed our users because no one was in charge of customer marketing forever.

I was the first one to do it. We didn’t have an automated email go out to all users. It was a very manual process that I had to basically get a list from engineering of everyone who signed into Alyce and pulled that list, put it into Marketo, and then I would craft an email that came from our VP of Customer Success and I would highlight specific features or integrations. 

It was a simple text email. It wasn’t HTML, it wasn’t anything fancy. It was very much, Hey, here’s something, a tip and trick that might help you gift or use direct mail better. And the open rate, the click through rate, the amount of people that said wow, I didn’t even know you had this integration was through the roof.

And we saw our G2 reviews go up from that because people were getting more familiar. There was adoption of the platform. And so that single thing, which literally took no effort at all, it was really just figuring out, all right, what do we wanna talk about? We already have knowledge-based articles. We already have screenshots. We have interactive product tours. 

It was more just actually doing the work of emailing them and getting them to know what’s coming out. People loved that and it’s such an easy thing. And we just saw so many customers just take advantage of stuff that we were trying to reach out to admins or champions for forever, they just weren’t doing it. And then we had other users that ended up bringing it up the telephone pole and all of a sudden they were like, yeah, I want to turn on this integration or I want to use this or do this. And the conversations became a lot easier. 

Margot Leong: What’s really interesting about this kind of work is that when you’re able to go in and almost get like a bird’s eye view of everything that’s going on, and you’re like, oh, over here like, support and education is working super hard to push out all of these knowledge base articles, right? Separately over here, CSMs have a wealth of information for things they’re directing over to their champions, right? 

But the distribution of that information is not equal across the customer base. And something as simple as doing a weekly email to customers can have a massive impact. And I really love that you kept it very simple, so it looks like it came from a real person. 

Nick Bennett: Exactly. Yeah. We used video in a lot too, and like our VP of CS, she hated using video and I forced her to do it. I was like, listen, I’ll write something for you. But I was like, we’ll keep a little bit in the email itself, but I want people to know who you are. Put a face to your name, get out there and the amount of people that actually clicked and watched the videos. 

We used Vidyard for it. We had an integration directly, so it was easy to track all of that data and so many people consumed the video and she got so many people reaching out to her saying thank you, like it’s really great to meet you. She was being invited to things. It just went really well. And I was like, anyone could have did this. It just took a little bit of extra effort. 

Margot Leong: That’s fantastic. And so I’m assuming in terms of what you were tracking, the metrics would be open rate, click throughs, view count. How did that relate back to the sub 30 days in terms of time to value? How did you see that play out? 

Nick Bennett: I feel like by the time I implemented the email piece of it, and by the time I actually left, I only started to see it, but we took it from 90 days to about 45 days. When I left, it was at 45 days. I don’t know what it’s at now. Hopefully it’s at sub 30 and I think they’re still going with a lot of the same things that I was running. 

But it was at 45 days and I think that was only in a two month window, I believe. So to see that big of an impact along with some other things that our CSMs and our executive team was doing personal outreach, stuff like that, we definitely started to see more traction. 

Margot Leong: Two months. That’s a pretty short amount of time to see it reduced by that much. And I think the great thing about this is that you’re getting all these little tidbits to bring back and to show that it works in the meantime. Like you’re getting responses, you’re able to show those metrics, right? I mean it all tracks, essentially, the more you’re using, the more you’re engaging.

Was there anything else that you experimented with that also worked well, or this one actually we thought would work well but maybe didn’t? So tell me about that. 

Nick Bennett: It was more trying to do like VIP types of events. Again, being a field marketer, I feel like events was always a big part of my strategy. I understood events and I understood how to leverage customers for events and making elevated experiences for them. Nothing against big trade shows or anything, but I was never a huge fan of going to get a booth at a trade show and like standing there scanning badges.

I think micro events and leveraging those to create content at scale and distribute that is huge. And when you can have your advocates out there promoting for you because you’re creating an experience for them to make them feel amazing is huge. So I was always doing different types of things like that. Again, keeping it small and intimate, but creating these experiences through events to be able to showcase them. 

Margot Leong: That’s actually a really good segue into the kind of work you’re doing currently. Part evangelism and also part event led growth. And we were talking a little bit earlier, you were saying customer marketers can actually leverage this type of growth as part of their strategy. 

Nick Bennett: Yeah, absolutely. So event led growth is really a marketing strategy. So many people think of events as like a single type of thing. It’s like you’re doing a webinar, but what if you’re connecting your events to your larger go-to-market strategy from the marketing side of it, and you’re using it as a way to amplify everything, and you’re putting the attendee first, which goes back again to a people first mindset.

If you can put the attendee at the center of your content, your speakers, the experience like the venue, whether it’s virtual or in person, just the experience, make them feel like, wow, okay, I’m gonna take an hour out of my day to listen to whatever you have to say. That hour better be good.

And if you can create that experience where it’s wow, okay, this blew my mind. Not only the content and the speakers were good, the agenda flew by, like it flowed really well, but the experience of the platform in general where I could play games, do trivia, have one-on-one conversations, jump around and do this 3D metaverse type thing where you’re going around meeting new people.

You create this experience with someone where they’re like, this is great. And so we just want the attendee to ultimately be at the center of everything and we use data for that. For us, we call it event intent, and so we’re able to actually track 60 something different pieces of intent using our platform that will relate back to an event perspective that you can then use for your sales outreach, for your marketing outreach, to tailor any content that you create.

And so again, it’s putting the attendee first because you’re doing it for them. You’re not doing it to be a self-serving purpose at the end of the day. 

Margot Leong: Let’s say that you were back doing your focus on customer marketing, right? How would you leverage these types of events as part of that strategy? Is it education for current customers, utilizing current customers as the experts essentially?

Nick Bennett: Yeah, I would say that’s a huge piece of it. And again it’s easier for us because we eat our own dog food. So we do 20 something events per quarter, all virtual for the most part.

But it boils down to three things for us. Experience, engagement and data. And so using customers to be able to showcase that. We have a few customers for example, like Partner Hacker is a good customer. And so like they do so many events where they’re just showcasing their story. 

And we’re not even trying to get people to buy because we don’t want it to be salesy. We want it to be organic, but if we can deliver value through the content that we create, through events as well as content outside of that, it creates the experience as well as the engagement, and then we’re leveraging the data to hopefully get to the right people at the right time.

Margot Leong: I’m curious because with COVID, right? Everything, so many events transitioned into virtual. And so it seems like in terms of the playing field, everybody wants to have an amazing virtual event. The concept of putting the attendee at the center, having it be really enjoyable, like that makes sense. 

I’m curious, now being very integrated in with these types of events, what do you think actually makes something into a true event where the attendee is actually blown away and really thinks highly of the brand afterwards? 

Nick Bennett: I think it’s a flawlessly executed event, but I think the speakers and content come first. If you can have something that resonates with me where I can walk away and say I can actually implement these five things tomorrow and probably better myself personally and professionally, that’s the type of experiences that people really enjoy. It’s not Hey, I’m gonna sit and give you a PowerPoint presentation for 45 minutes and then answer any questions you have or walk through a slide deck. It’s very much fireside chat/panel ish that I think those are the best types of conversations and experiences that we’ve seen not only ourselves have success with, but our customers have success with. 

Margot Leong: Where it’s a bit more casual, maybe a little bit more honest, dare I say?

Nick Bennett: A bit more authentic too. I feel like then you can also riff off people too. If you’re doing it with a couple other marketers and people are giving you great ideas and it’s oh wow, I didn’t even think of that. But like, hey, here’s how you might be able to take that to the next level. Then you just start to have a very organic conversation. 

And yeah, I’m sure some of it’s scripted, obviously behind the talking points, what you wanna get to, but the overall conversation is very free flowing. And I feel like that’s what people really enjoy. 

Margot Leong: I mean, I’ve seen this happen before and it’s almost magical, right? Where the attendees are there for a panel, but they don’t necessarily know each other ahead of time. But then they almost forget that they are on a panel in front of people and they’re talking to each other and actually learning from each other and as you said, riffing off each other. That element of performance is almost removed a little bit. They’re actually sharing insights with each other. They’re forgetting that there’s the audience there necessarily.

Nick Bennett: Yeah, a hundred percent. Exactly. And then think about how much you could actually do with that content post event through distribution, whether it’s for social, whether it’s for email. I’ve started to use clips from events in our emails to promote upcoming events even, or clips from me personally.

But like videos where people can see a face that they recognize or see a name that they recognize and start to learn a little bit more, that’s when they can resonate with the brand a little bit better, where the evangelism piece comes in too. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. 

Nick Bennett: It goes back to making events a larger part of your go-to-market strategy from like a marketing perspective, because so many people treat events as a silo that like, Hey, I’m just doing events to run lead gen at the end of the day and that’s the wrong mindset.

How do I put the attendee first? How do I put the customer first? How do I make an experience for them that makes them want to not only love the brand, love the experience? And for us it’s a little bit different because the best demo that we can give is getting someone to an event because they’re experiencing all the features that we have and we actually see, whenever we do an event, we actually see a huge spike in inbound post-event.

Margot Leong: Because the focus is the event, not just the event is a way to funnel in leads. 

Nick Bennett: Exactly. 

Margot Leong: We have so many customer markers listening to this podcast. Especially with the current economic climate in tech, there have been layoffs, unfortunately. There’s been uncertainty and something we struggle with a lot is how do we define why customer marketing is important and why we should be kept within organizations. Everybody’s always focused on growth, new leads, new pipeline. How would you sell the importance of customer marketing internally? 

Nick Bennett: I would say in the economy that we’re in right now, net revenue retention is way more important than ARR, to a certain degree.

 So many companies, and I feel like more and more marketing leaders and CMOs are starting to talk about this as well. The focus should be NRR, like that should be a huge KPI metric that the organization looks at as a whole.

And it’s what can you do as a marketing team to serve that at the end of the day? And I think, unfortunately it’s crazy that in the economy, like customer marketers are still being laid off when that’s probably one of the most important pieces of a marketing organization today. It just never made any sense to me, and I was just like, is customers and retention not important to them? Do they just not see value in that? 

And then I see other companies that are doubling down and hiring more on the customer marketing side. Maybe it’s a mindset shift that needs to change where it’s more companies thinking about how to serve the customer and how to focus on playing the long game versus being so short minded, but I don’t know.

Margot Leong: I think that’s a really good point. New customers are shiny, and they’re new, which doesn’t necessarily mean that you are fulfilling the promises on the existing product. It means that you’re just selling people the promise, right? 

And statistically, happy customers are known to buy so much more long term. But you have to keep them happy, right?

There’s a lot of other factors that are involved in that as well, product and support and customer marketing, I mean, there’s so many other factors, right? Which is why it maybe seems harder to wrap people’s head around, but I feel like that should be the whole point of a business is that you have customers and you keep them. 

Nick Bennett: Exactly. And what was interesting is at Alyce, we went through a round of layoffs and a good chunk of marketing got cut, but I actually ended up reporting to our VP of CS, so I was like, oh, that’s interesting. Because as a field marketer, sales was my internal customer. As a customer marketer, I guess CS would be your internal customer. So I was like, that’s an interesting organizational model where customer marketers report to CS to a certain degree. Maybe they’re comped similar to a CSM or something like that.

But I feel like it aligned our objectives. It aligned what we actually wanted to accomplish that much more versus being so siloed. And companies that say they don’t have silos is such BS because every company has silos. And it may be big, it may be small, but when you’re in marketing, there’s a good chance that you’re not talking to everyone that you should be. And if you’re not only working within marketing, but also cross-functionally across all the other departments, it’s the only way that you can be successful. 

Margot Leong: One of my last questions since I know that we are coming up on time here is with the current economic climate being particularly challenging in tech and talking about a lot of customer marketers getting laid off, you have a really interesting take on things because obviously in addition to your marketing experience, you’re also a content creator and you have been working diligently on building your personal brand. 

Tell me about your decision to work on being a content creator and why this is something you made a conscious decision to do. 

Nick Bennett: We all know the companies we work for, we won’t work there forever. And it’s not like it was, I always tell this. My mom works for Raytheon, she’s worked there for 40 something years. It’s been the only job that she’s had. And she’s like, Nick you’re 36 years old and you’ve worked for eight companies so far. I was like, yeah, mom. But I was just like, times have changed. If you’re working longer than four or five years in startups, people look at you like, what’s wrong with you?

People change jobs so often now that it’s not even considered job hopping to a certain degree. If I can go get a 30% bump in pay at another company, I’m gonna do it because at the end of the day, you have to look out for yourself. And so the whole idea of building a personal brand and focusing on that is, if I was to get laid off, let’s just say today from Airmeet, hopefully I can go on LinkedIn and say, Hey, unfortunately I lost my role. I’m looking for something new, and hopefully I get flooded with DMs and messages of people that wanna work with me. 

You can be selective. It’s not like you have to take the first thing that’s out there and you can ultimately get to what you wanna do and maybe you can actually leverage that into consulting or something down the road. Because I’ve also thought about hey, I’ve done this for three plus years now. I’ve felt like I’ve built a decent audience. I’ve got companies sponsoring my podcast. I’ve got a newsletter. I’m writing a book on the creator economy right now. I have all these things. 

What if I just went full-time creator and advised some companies on the side, maybe did a little bit of consulting and then relied on just brand deals to leverage the rest? I feel like I have a big enough network that I could do that. 

But if I didn’t take that jump three plus years ago and start and at least not be afraid or have imposter syndrome to overcome those mental barriers, I feel like I would’ve never have gotten to where I am today.

Margot Leong: Was that something that you struggled with in the beginning? Because customer marketers I think are especially probably prone to imposter syndrome. We’re the kind of demographic of people that puts customers first, we stay out of the spotlight. So I can understand how that would be really scary. 

This is something that I have struggled with before, I currently struggle with. There’s this quote, I think it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I think it’s like work like hell and advertise. And I think a lot of people do the former and they don’t do the latter because they are afraid of getting judged. 

Nick Bennett: It’s a big reason why people don’t create content because they’re afraid of being judged or afraid of what someone else might say, especially when you get to higher level like VPs of Marketing, CMOs, like you’re judged. What will other CMOs or VPs of marketing think if they don’t agree with my framework or something like that? And it scares people fresh out of school as well, people that have been doing this 20, 30 years. 

But the biggest thing that I always try to tell from an advice perspective is, we all had to start somewhere, and there’s going to be a lot of mental barriers that you’re gonna have to overcome. And as soon as you hit post on something on social media, there’s always gonna be someone that doesn’t like it and that’s okay because your content shouldn’t be for everyone. Just as a customer marketer, like what you do, you do it for a certain person. And the content that you create is for a certain person.

And if there’s others out there that don’t like it, like cool. They would not have liked it even if you called them the nicest person in the world. And that’s okay. You’re never gonna resonate with everyone and you don’t wanna resonate with everyone. You wanna specialize in what you specialize in and focus on that.

Margot Leong: For the people that are interested, what kind of content do you think resonates? Where should they draw from? What do you think is valuable to post? 

Nick Bennett: I think it’s real life experiences, programs that you’re working on. And there’s probably gonna be a lot of lurkers out there, you might not get likes and comments on your posts and that’s okay. But I, a hundred percent, could tell you there’s lurkers that are reading your content and they’ll never like or comment on it, but they will send you a DM six months from now saying how much that helped them or how it helped them get a promotion or something like that. 

And if you can talk about programs or projects that you worked on. Maybe you built a new CAB or something like that and you just talk about both successes and failures. Personally, that’s the best content that I love. 

Right now, I could say the sky is blue and there’s gonna be people that like my post just because. No value in that, a hundred percent, but it’s because I showed up for three plus years and hopefully created value where a lot of people saw that and now they just follow me for me.

But when you’re starting out, it’s very much you have to just deliver value on the stuff that you worked on, and hopefully that helps at least one other person. You’re not looking to move mountains, but you are looking to help others, and if it can help one person, then I feel like you’ve done your job.

Margot Leong: How important would you say is consistency? So is it posting daily, posting weekly, monthly? Like, how would you think about this for the beginner content creator? 

Nick Bennett: It’s tough because it definitely depends and I don’t think that anyone should jump in and just post five days a week. I think an approach that you can take today is find 10 to 20 other like-minded marketers, customer marketers, that are already creating content and go comment on their stuff on a daily basis. Because what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna organically start to build the base back to your own profile before you ever create content yourself.

And we all know that the comment section is the best place on LinkedIn because that turns into DMs, that turns into future job opportunities and other cool partnerships and revenue for the company or retention for the company or whatever. That’s what I would say is the best place to start. And then figure out does showing up every day mean posting two times a week, one time a week, daily? You have to figure out what works best for you to not feel like it’s a job. 

Ultimately it is about the long game and there’s no overnight successes here. This is going to take hard work for years and showing up and having real conversations with people and building relationships, but I guarantee you, and I would love for someone to debate me on this. There is never going to be a negative downside to doing this. 

Margot Leong: Exactly, and you learn a lot about yourself as a result. And you could definitely speak to this, but the opportunities that come out of the woodwork are myriad and unexpected. 

Nick Bennett: Yeah. I’ve gotten advising opportunities. I’ve gotten brand deals, like people that I haven’t even heard of. I’m actually running a creator retreat in Costa Rica the first week of November. And there’s 20 people and I decided to sell tickets for it. I was like, I wonder if anyone will actually buy tickets for it. It was like $3,000. There’s one spot left and people I didn’t even know were just throwing money at this. And it was just like a place for four days to get together to do workshops, to come out and be a better creator at the end of the day. And I was blown away by the support and that was, again, showing up every day for three years. 

Margot Leong: Even if you’re not necessarily wanting to become, ” a full-time content creator” or a content creator, right? There is value in sharing your experiences, what you’ve learned. And that can at least get you on the path of not having to worry so much where your next job is gonna come from.

So I think this is a great place to wrap it up. So Nick, where’s the best place where people can connect with you if they want to pick your brain about any of these topics. 

Nick Bennett: Yeah, absolutely. LinkedIn is definitely the best place. Feel free to shoot me a DM. I reply to every single one of them. May take me a bit, but I will get to it for sure. And yeah, 

I mean, follow along. I try to create content there two times a day, as well as I have my podcast and other social channels that I’m creating content on, so find me there and let’s have a conversation. 

Margot Leong: Thank you so much for coming on, Nick. 

Nick Bennett: Thanks for having me. It was a blast.

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Beating The Drum. For more interviews with advocacy leaders and tips on creating customers that will sing your praises, head on over to our website, If you enjoyed today’s show, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to rate and review us. If you know someone that would be a great fit for the show, I would love to hear about it. You can reach out at Take care, everybody. 



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