How Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee helped rock a software company's content
In 2019, events were the largest source of leads for many B2B marketers. The leads sustained a time-tested marketing approach involving brand development reps, marketing automation software that pushed out content, lead scoring systems and sales calls. When the pandemic struck, chief marketing officers were forced to rethink go-to-market strategies.
One such CMO is Richard Jones of Cheetah Digital. Recognizing that marketers were flooding prospects with often-static virtual events, Jones challenged his team to “do something truly unique that was both entertaining and educational.” This led to the creation of three podcasts and a multi-week virtual event that included an unlikely pitchman—Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe fame. Buoyed by strong attendance, website traffic and lead flow generated by these efforts, Jones suggests that B2B need not stand for “Business 2 Boring.”
What changes did you make to your go-to-market strategy in April?
We looked at all our processes and realized we can’t be chasing people for first meetings at a time when businesses were slashing people and projects. Our team had to completely re-do all our content and marketing processes to focus on being consultative on how marketers should react to the pandemic. As the outbreak developed, we then started to focus our content not on how to react, but what the strategies were that could help marketers lead their organizations through the recovery. We invested heavily in original consumer research that will help marketers understand the best ways to do that.
What is the overall goal for content?
It has to be more than just awareness. Content is meaningless if, when the rubber meets the road, a salesperson is unable to progress the sales cycle. Your sales team is going to look at the content created by the marketing department to learn what to sell and how to sell it. Your prospects will expect continuity from content consumed online to what the sales team delivers in person. So, your content needs to be aligned from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel.
How do you make sure the content you create hits the mark?
B2B content has always been relatively dry. If you look at what most companies are doing, B2B deserves its reputation of ‘Business 2 Boring’. It hasn’t really mapped to how consumers are changing, specifically our shortened attention spans and our preference to be informed and entertained. You need to think about how to have a variety of content that is consumable, engaging and interactive.
What else did you need to create better content?
The second piece is, how do I make the content not dry? There is no guarantee of success in just making your content smaller and more consumable. I brought people into the content machine at Cheetah Digital that weren’t professional B2B content marketers; they were creatives and people from TV backgrounds. I wanted to create content that was distinct, not formulaic. Content doesn’t have to be heavy lifting and time-consuming to be quality.
Why launch three different podcasts?
This an illustration of the variety of content you should be offering. Our podcasts give more people an opportunity to share their stories. It provides our customers a platform to share their stories that also benefits them. Our Thinking Caps podcast is focused on digital disruption and marketing strategies and we typically interview CXOs at billion dollar-plus enterprises. The Uncaged Wisdom podcast is the practitioner-level content where we get into the detail of how marketing operatives can execute to get results. Lastly, our Pulse podcast is focused on product marketing and what the analysts are saying.
Have you found creative ways to replace leads from in-person events?
We ran a completely virtual user conference—Signals20—in place of our usual physical event, where we really tried to shake things up. Just because a physical event was over consecutive days, there is absolutely no reason why a virtual event has to be. So, we ran the event as a content series over multiple weeks, with shorter form content and no session on any day lasting for more than an hour.
How did you promote the event?
Mötley Crüe is one of the most infamous rock and roll bands over the last 30 years with more than 100 million albums sold. We actually know the drummer, Tommy Lee, because our VP Content was a guitar tech roadie on a Crüe tour 26 years ago and also directed him on some MTV shows. We came up with a plan to use Tommy Lee’s rock star cliché image as another arrow in our quiver to fight the "Boring to Business" metaphor of B2B online events. If you wanted to find someone that was literally the last person on earth you could imagine being interested in marketing software, then Tommy Lee was as good as anyone.
How was Lee used?
We approached Tommy about doing some funny sketches with his Instagram influencer wife, Brittany Furlan-Lee, to promote Signals20 to a fairly targeted group of senior B2C marketers who will know all about Mötley Crüe in its heyday because of their age demographic. We wanted to play on the "fish out of water" element that is so apt for Tommy Lee attending a MarTech conference or being interested in data-driven engagement. Seeing Tommy Lee talk about marketing and technology will stop most people 35 and above in their tracks. It’s just not what you would expect to see. And that’s why we did it. It’s just a bit of fun and Tommy Lee and Brittany were so gracious and did everything we asked, even though the marketing "in jokes" were probably lost on them.
What were the results of your virtual user conference?
In total we had 4,916 event registrations for sessions across the Series in AMER and are now embarking across localized versions of Signals for the EMEA and APAC regions. Through the series period we also had a 50% jump in monthly unique visitors to our website, and our database of engaged contacts in our marketing funnel grew 426%. It was also nice to see that the somewhat left field idea to use Tommy Lee to promote a marketing event was shortlisted for several B2B Content Awards.