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Listener. Learner. Pot stirrer. Lover of the serial comma. Die-hard Monty Python fan.

Product? Check. Customer love? Big time. Value prop? Nailed. So why aren’t you generating the leads and pipeline you need? Lots of CEOs blame their demand generation person or program. But it’s not that simple.

TL;DR: The three swing factors that make or break demand gen are: 1. ideal customer profile; 2. message; and 3. offer. Take the time to understand ICP fully. It’s the most valuable thing you will do, with ripple effects across your business. Be crisp, clear, and distinctive in your message, and for God’s sake, make it about the customer (and not you). …


Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of startup CMOs like a company-wide re-brand. Between finding an agency that won’t bankrupt you, taking on a crushing amount of thankless work, and goat-herding your internal stakeholders, it’s a fraught project to say the least.

But when it’s done well, it’s perhaps the most satisfying feeling in the world — a chance to put your lasting, creative imprint on the business and give it a strong, differentiated style.

Having been through this process approximately one billion times (slight exaggeration) and having made every mistake in the book, I’ve compiled my learnings into this…


(And other torpedoes of truth from the PR front lines.)

Tech CEOs, we love ya and all, but we gotta give you some feedback. No matter how cool your product is, the press doesn’t care.

Here’s your TL;DR: The media aren’t what they used to be. PR can help you get the earned media you deserve, but you gotta do your part. Partner with your PR agency; tell a great story; use your data; approach reporters the right way; and make it count by creating a flywheel.

Here’s how we’ve seen it play out: Tech CEO builds amazing product. Launches…


Do board meetings give you a stomach ache?

The periodic assembly of business leaders known as the board meeting is fraught with anxiety if you’re a B2B marketing leader. Why? Marketing is hard. Expensive. Not always understood. Sometimes not respected. So when board meeting time rolls around and you have to explain yourself to your boss’s bosses, it can feel like stepping in front of a firing squad. Also? Everybody has an opinion (and I’ll just leave that there).

Despite these headwinds, if you’re armed with the right strategies, you can emerge from your next board meeting victorious (or at…


How would you feel if you walked into a McDonald’s and, instead of offering you a McChicken, the menu read “MacChicken?” Or if you logged into your instance of Slack and found that threads were called “discussions” and channels were called “topics?” Or if you received a marketing email from Nordstrom announcing a “no return” policy in bold type? Even if you couldn’t identify the exact problem, you’d know something was wrong. It would make you question the authenticity of the brand and erode your trust.

It’s no wonder global businesses collectively spend more than half a trillion dollars on…


Most B2B startups do some form of segmentation analysis, but a lot of it isn’t that useful.

Usually we segment by company size, vertical, and buyer role. But if that’s where we put our pencils down, we haven’t done our jobs. Here’s why:

If you don’t know why — really why and under what circumstances and in what context — your customers buy, you can’t develop a high-probability pipeline and repeatable sales plays.

TL;DR: Robust customer discovery and granular segmentation leads to crisp marketing and efficient sales. Dig into these five areas using the Five Whys: 1. Use cases; 2…


Who are the keepers of customer understanding, empathy, and intimacy in your company? If the answer isn’t “all of us,” you may have a problem.

Sure, certain people are on the hook for implementation, customer success, and receiving feature requests, but I’m talking about really knowing your customers, understanding what they’re about, and being in lockstep with their goals and challenges — both in the context of your product and beyond it.

Great companies don’t just funnel this knowledge through a few people like the CEO or product manager. They make sure everyone in the company understands their customers. When…


As marketers, one of the most important things we can do is analyze our competitors. The problem is we don’t do it. Or if we do, we do it poorly.

There are a million reasons we kick the can down the road on competitive analysis: not enough time, not enough staff, no access to competitors’ products, too much to do, it’s too much of a moving target. These may be true, but we don’t have a choice. If we don’t do at least some level of ongoing competitive analysis, others will do it for us. Yikes!

So consider this your…


Dear B2B marketing peeps,

If you want to be good at your job but don’t model your pipeline within an inch of its life, measure the crap out of it, and refine it frequently, you’re doing it wrong!

This isn’t rocket science, but it does require some diligence. If you really get good at it, you can even get proactive (and, dare I say, predictive?) enough to smooth out your marketing-delivered pipeline when the stuff hits the fan (which never happens, of course!). Here are seven practical steps and a sample model.

Note: These are simplified versions of my models…


Dear Hiring Managers and Job Seekers,

You’re doing it wrong.

***

Here are some sobering facts:

  • Bad hires cost a lot of money. Forbes claimed that the cost of a bad hire is way higher than you think, citing cost figures ranging from the U.S. Department of Labor’s 30–40 percent of the employee’s first-year earnings to a recruiter’s calculated $240,000 (and for those of you for whom 30–40 percent IS $240,000, just go away!). Neither of these stats includes the opportunity cost of lost time (and reputation).
  • Companies do a poor job of hiring. CareerBuilder found that 28 percent of…

Jamie Catherine Barnett

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