078 - Marketing as the First Mover in Partner Led Everything, with Mark Kilens

What is up PartnerUp!?

Mark Kilens makes the case that the era of ecosystems will be ushered in by Marketing. Especially with events.

We debate and discuss how partnerships and community overlay the four main growth tactics - product led, sales led, content led, and events led. We get into the future of co-marketing, and why events might be the lowest hanging fruit to bridge the gap between the nebulous world of ecosystem and the scientific world of sales and marketing automation.

Mark is a former marketer at Drift and is the CMO of Airmeet, a killer events platform sponsoring the upcoming PL[X] Summit - plxsummit.com. Mark will be speaking there, so don’t miss it!

3 Key Takeaways

Today's key takeaways were originally outlined by Eric Sangerma.

  1. 60 to 80% of your content should come from someone else
    If you produce the majority of the content, you're not doing Marketing; you're doing old-school demand gen.
  2. The best partnerships are the result of shared belief systems
    Every single partnership needs to be rooted in a belief in something bigger. When you and a partner share a belief system, alignment comes naturally.
  3. Events are a forcing function that make the immeasurable, measurable
    While it's hard to see the throughput of community on partnerships, events are that forcing function for bringing those things together in a measurable way.

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Full Transcript:

Jared Fuller  00:00

Hey what is up partner up? We're back. I'm not letting Isaac take my line like he did last week. Don't thank you very much. And last week, it was a it was a blast. Isaac, I listened to it this morning. So thank you for taking me like down the journey of like the partner lead, like how we got to PL X. That was that was a blast. I had a blast last week.

Isaac Morehouse  00:32

Yeah, it was fun. Because it was, it was easy. Like, sometimes you know, and you're gonna record a podcast and you're like, you're really focusing on what you're going to do and what you're going to work through. I love it when it's just really easy and natural and comfortable. Which is a great segue. Because we're gonna have a really natural, comfortable conversation today with a dude that I know you've known for a long time, Jared, but I just met Mark, like, at ecos when we were doing preparing for ecosystem week, and after one call to two major things hit me one. Oh, man, there's so much more with the future of events than I thought and two, I gotta get to know this mark Gilens guy and talk to him any chance I get? So here we are. Mark, how are you?

Mark Kilens  01:20

I am well. Thanks for having me on the show, guys. It's it's nice to be talking to two people that they get it.

Jared Fuller  01:28

I remember our first conversation mark. Because I remember Julie Hogan texted me. And she's like, we're interviewing this guy for Head of Content at adrift. And he's awesome. He did at HubSpot. He did inbound, you got to talk to him. You got to talk to him about partner and like all the things you want to do. And I remember that combo. I think we talked for like an hour because it was nighttime. It was like probably winter time. So no, the days were shorter. You were in Boston and I was in St. Pete and I was walking around the house telling you about all this stuff. Like I got this conversational marketing blueprint that I idea that like is XYZ and I mean killings like we work together at Drift for for a minute. So it's so good to have you. It's gonna be a fun, awesome combo. Now you're an air meat CMO?

Mark Kilens  02:11

Yes, yeah. I'm excited to have this conversation in one thing that you and I both geek out on, if you will, is mental models

Jared Fuller  02:20

and frameworks. All three.

Mark Kilens  02:23

I think we'll talk a lot about that today. Well, we'll zig and zag in this conversation. But yeah, I mean, I have a suspicion that will give you folks listening. Some things you can like, take away and apply. Like right away. Because Because that's I think the best part of these conversations, right guys? It's like, yeah, you can have the stories. You can talk about learnings and lessons. But you know, how do I go take something from this and do it tomorrow? That's my goal.

Jared Fuller  02:50

Heck, yeah, that's what we got Mark Kilens, everybody. So for those of you who don't know, Mark killings Mark, I would love to just the super brief. What you did at HubSpot, because you were there seven plus eight years. How long were you at HubSpot?

Mark Kilens  03:03

Just almost nine, eight and a half ish. Almost nine. Yeah. And a half nine.

Jared Fuller  03:06

Wow. Yeah. So you built the content and community at HubSpot for inbound and then writ large, like came up with a flywheel?

Mark Kilens  03:15

Yeah, I mean, my claim to fame is like HubSpot Academy, I guess, you know, that was that was just such an amazing team effort. Like I know, we're not gonna talk about that. But like, yeah, HubSpot Academy, I guess was the claim to fame. I'm so proud of that. Because it involves so many people. It was truly a partner led experience from partnering with customers, partnering with agencies, partnering with other SAS businesses, partnering with people inside of HubSpot to bring that to life, the product team really, really early days. I mean, it was it was truly everything you guys are talking about. Now we're like partner LED. It was such an embodiment, because we created it with the help of so many people inside and outside the business. And then yeah, I was doing that for a long time. Went to drift, you know, headed up continent community, extremely partner centric. I basically told the team when I joined drift, like, we're never creating a piece of content without the inclusion of some type of partner, a customer, another SAS brand, someone or some entity? Agency. Right. And you probably you could attest this what we did, right? So

Jared Fuller  04:26

yeah, yeah. And then like we partnered on something that I mean, we did Academy right out the gate we did where we did the the blueprint, and we had 1000s of people get conversationally marketing certified. We didn't do as good as HubSpot. And, you know, it's hard to do it as good as that. But I think today, Mark, what's so cool is to see you zoom out and ascend to the title that you should have been at all along, in my opinion, which is CMO of a company called Air meat that we use during ecosystem week. And I think we've all started to collide around the same thing, which is that go to market is changing fundamentally from like, not overnight, because COVID shook up a lot of stuff. But then the markets have gone to, and not so great. Like, I mean, Bank of America just downgraded Apple, Facebook announced their first mass layoffs, like, you know, inflation is persisting, they're like, oh, it's transitory, it's not going away. It's like, No, we just had the last read and it's still there at an all time high, things aren't looking great, meaning the traditional demand waterfall is falling by the wayside to something else, or it needs to be stacked. And there's all these lead things like we said, like partner lead, you're talking about event lead, maybe we could start unpacking it there from the CMO standpoint. So we have mostly partnership you know, leaders and partnership practitioners, listeners, Mark, you're sitting in a marketing leadership role at a you know, awesome hyper growth company. How do we build some empathy between the people in the partner land and what the CMOS job is given the current climate and all of the things that are being thrown in CMOS like community lead partner lead event lead sales, lead marketing content lead, which is inbound? Maybe we start there?

Mark Kilens  05:59

Yeah, I mean, you're talking about like, how do you go to market these days right and like in the traditional sense the go to market like way back when was like sales lead sales like growth? Right? You would you would go knock on people's doors, you would do outbound, you do the phone call, right? It's kind of like what? No, inbound pivoted against, right, the enemy was outbound, aka Sales Lead growth, right. And then there was this idea of content, lead growth, aka inbound marketing. And that really sprung up and then you kind of saw the next wave, which was product lead growth, which is another go to market right. So now you got three. Now you're seeing things like you just mentioned, I call it event led growth, community led growth, and partner led growth. And I actually think all six of those things kind of play off each other in a way, but in my opinion, and we can unpack whichever ones you want to unpack, but they all are distinct and different. And if you look at like just the business like HubSpot, for example, right, started off being sales lead in content lead, right, like, you know, inbound, inbound marketing, and then they added product, lead growth into it. Right. You know, it was probably was 2014 ish. We did that. They added partner, CRM inside. Yeah, exactly, exactly. They added partners, though, you know, even sooner than that they added partners with with the first one launching things 2008. Right. With pure 2020. Paul racer, he was the first.

Jared Fuller  07:25

I mean, it was early. It was early. I mean, we've told that story with Kabuto before, which is a great episode with Pete just kind of hearing like that. How Halligan was trying to fire him and Dan tire was I don't know if I could actually say that but Dan tire was protecting him like no, I think there might be something with agencies and you know, it's $100 million dollar business by the time Pete left alone. Yeah.

Mark Kilens  07:44

So so that was the third thing right? So they Sales Lead constant lead partner lead, then they did product lead, at the same time of doing a product lead we were doing this thing with with HubSpot Academy. I would call that more community lead. Right there was content but like it was it was it was fostering a community right we can unpack a community lead is

Jared Fuller  08:02

let's let's unpack that for a minute. Because in the past month, Mark, we've had some really interesting things happen around community like speaking of HubSpot, I don't know if you saw Yemenis, Keynote or Dharmesh, his keynote from inbound that she's both, you know, and I'm talking to kip tomorrow from HubSpot is it's the age of the connected customer. Right? So it's all about community. So, which is you know, we're being semantical, right? A bit pedantic whenever we start to define community, but really, like I define ecosystem as community, which is individuals with a shared professional interest and partners, which are accounts with a shared commercial interest. Right. So like, partner, ecosystem community, I mean, this is a triangle to the same thing, meaning these people don't necessarily work at your company. They're not necessarily customers, there's something else. Right.

Mark Kilens  08:59

disagree, disagree?

Jared Fuller  09:01

No, no, there's an umbrella for that as well. What I'm saying is there's more people that are community members and there's more people that are partners than there are customers or employees if done

Isaac Morehouse  09:09

so. So let me ask you a question. That now I'm starting to Jared maybe, I don't know working his magic on me too much from these conversations but I've heard you say before Jared Yeah, we should eliminate partnerships department and it's kind of tongue in cheek but what you mean there I'm starting to get is really powerful because as Mark you're listing you have sales lead which is you know, outbound you have content lead versus inbound you have it you know, events lead you have when I hear all of those, I think every one of those partnership partner lead is not its own separate strategy. Every one of those is like, bolstered by apart so outbound co selling with partners, okay, tell your whole out but you need all of those teams and you all those approaches, tell all of them to partner up on it. Have your sales team co selling have your marketing team, you know your events strategy, do event hence, together your content strategy, like you said, always have them involve your content if you got a community lead strategy, right, get it have other partners in that community product lead growth, you're doing it with partners, you're co innovating, you're working on integrations heavy. So it's almost like, it's almost like a way to get better ROI from each of those approaches, by having each of them with a partnership component injected into it. Is that Is that fair, or as partnerships need to be a standalone separate strategy spot on?

Mark Kilens  10:30

I mean, it'd be a great visual to create, right? You have the partner lead piece underpinning those four pillars, and then I think community is is the thing that all five of those things create, right? That's the ecosystem and right, like, you know, if you can get all five of those cylinders, going know that community and that ecosystem is going to be in such a, such a dominant position. Again, like look at Salesforce, look at HubSpot, look at some of these other ones, right? Because again, it's really becoming a community, not just of like people, but like technology, right? And a true to Kipps, you know, comment, like, in your comment, share, like a connected community, right through through all of these different exchanges, economically of value, right? It's not just, that's the key right to a thriving ecosystem. It's the economic incentives that are created and the economic value that's created between its members of this of the community of the ecosystem.

Jared Fuller  11:32

Yeah, I mean, you even have the true ecosystem leaders start to measure the value of their company, not in terms of, you know, revenue, or market cap, but it's, you know, it's ecosystem value, like every year at Dreamforce. It still surprises me when Benioff gets up on the main stage. And he talks about the ecosystem value of Salesforce. Yep. Like that. To him. That's the most important thing. I mean, that's a what an incredible thing to talk about the Salesforce 1.5 $1.6 trillion ecosystem, like, Whoa,

Mark Kilens  11:59

I mean, it's an economy. I mean, it's like a mini second economy, GDP,

Jared Fuller  12:03

GDP, a lot of countries. Totally is totally is. So if that's the case, then what we're kind of saying is that it's an overlay. Alright, so that's, that's a word that a lot of SAS people will will be aware of an overlay is where you have specialists inside of a department that are taking a function for that primary, you know, so for example, a good example of overlay would be like partner marketing, right? So there's someone in the marketing org that's focused exclusively on the experience of marketing with partners, right? Or you might have a community marketer or a customer marketer, right? Same thing could happen in sales, where you might have like a partner, you know, account manager, right, or channel account manager, across each department, there's these specialties that could kind of be developed that give some dedicated focus to the executive. But it's not siloed inside of a department. I mean, I think we, you know, Mark, whenever we were working together at Drift, and we were like, you know, conversational marketing blueprint, the, you know, revenue acceleration, maturity model, like, we built that with lead MD, which was a partner, right? Anytime that we work together, we kicked ass. But our teams weren't quite integrated. Right? Because why it was like a department, it was like, Okay, let's get Nick's out, like, can we get him into your team? Can we get him in here, we actually had to fight that for like, almost a year, not fight, because not like drift was doing anything against us. It was just, it wasn't built as an overlay from the start. So if you're, if you're sitting from your cmo seat, and you're seeing this overlay, things start to happen. How do you think about building that funnel or that operating model with these other components in it? So like community partnerships?

Mark Kilens  13:48

You know, it's a great question, because like, each of those six things we talked about, there's six of them. Each of them should be thought of as a strategic initiative or imperative at a company. Right? Like think about this, right? When you when you start a company, when trying to grow a company, when you're trying to just sustain a company or keep a company surviving. You always are thinking sales lead, right? Like you always try to sell yourself out of it. Right. But you know, today it's no longer enough to be just sales lead. It's like it's like, I mean, I'd be shocked to know of a company that just goes to market with a sales lead outbound motion, right? What's today especially

Jared Fuller  14:29

you can get away with it even seven months ago, you might have but like right now who? Yeah,

Mark Kilens  14:34

so like, you know, you have to you have to have at least one of those other things going on, like even small businesses will have more than one of those things going on. Like think about a small business in your community. I bet most of those small businesses have some type of partner led motion along with sales led

Isaac Morehouse  14:52

to I live in rural rural Tennessee, like the country town and there's it's pretty small but there's a powerhouse gym. So you go to the powerhouse gym Jim, there's a little cooler in the front. And the cooler has a sign on it that says this is from Tennessee grass fed beef. Here's your pickup location. If you ordered it's a place that's in a town an hour away, and it says go go to Tennessee grass fed.com/powerhouse 10 You get a 10% discount, and you choose this as your pickup location. They're a local small farm an hour away. And they're using powerhouse gyms as a distribution and and marketing channel, right, where like, what a great what a brilliant idea. They're not big enough to have a storefront, they're not going to get picked up by Kroger or any of these big brands. But they figure out who who's really interested in a bunch of grass fed protein and health and fitness and all this stuff. People at the gym, let's see if they'll put a freezer in each of their locations, and people can have and we go make one drop, and it reaches everybody in this area. I mean, I just I saw that. And I was like partnerships everywhere, man, you know,

Mark Kilens  15:55

all I mean, minds even smaller than that my wife has a small business, she's starting back up. And now that she's she's almost four months after our second kid. And literally today, she just gave our doctor who you know, it's not like one of these like, you know, big establishments, but like, it's a cool, that's a whole nother story. But like, it's a doctor that like will actually come to your house and house visits and like, you know, she's an office as well. But she's got a lot of clients that are also expecting mothers or you know, mothers that just had a baby, and she's giving her like a literally stack of 50 You know, one pagers printed off one pagers about the services you offer, and they're just gonna, she's gonna hand them out to clients, this doctor to that to clients were like, you know, my wife, business, and she can help them with, you know, pre pre and post, you know, nutrition for the, for the babies, and for the mother, for everyone. It's a partnership right there.

Isaac Morehouse  16:56

The original, the original partnership directory you just made me think of as you've ever been to a small local restaurant, and I got the bulletin board where you can stick your business card.

Mark Kilens  17:09

So go go back to my point on the go to market then. Right. So it's like sales lead, right? And you have to think about like sales lead is of course getting investment, right? You're hiring more salespeople, you're hiring BDR, STRS. Right. You're you're you're doing things, you know, if some people say, Well, why aren't these all just marketing lead? I think it's too too short sighted to say it is marketing lead, right? Everything I think a business does, in some ways is a component of marketing these days, because literally every interaction every moment is a moment of potential marketing, right for the business. So let's get more specific. So content, every business is trying to do content for the most part, right? Even if your business is only trying to do stuff on tick tock, it's still content. I mean, it's like so that you're doing content lead, right. And when you think about like a business, who is raised venture money, or businesses even bootstrapped, you have to make sure that like the executives of that business understand the importance of these six motions and how they're different, and how to best utilize each one. So we're not gonna have time to unpack each six of these things in this in this call. And there's some of these are much more well established. Right. But I think the three that are the least established event led growth, community led growth and partner led growth are the ones that have a massive potential to help in many ways, these three that are more established product led growth is not established, but it's still much more mature. Content and growth is yet very mature. It's even around before you know HubSpot per se, but like, you know, they've done a lot of course, in 20 years to, to bring it to life. And then Sales Lead growth has been around for decades and decades and decades. I mean, centuries, right? So, you know, my estimation, we're at this inflection point. Because these, these these three others have been around event led growth always been around, but very in person centric. Now. It's been like digitalized. Right? Great. Now we can lean into that partner led growth. You both just brought up the point. It's always been around, but like no one's really been teaching people about it. Just like with content, lead growth, inbound marketing is always been around, but no one put a framework to it in the digital sense, right? Or, in a sense that made it made sense from go to market standpoint. And community led growth. Of course, that's always been around. Right. But again, like how do you take that idea of like, community which is nebulous, and turn it into something that has structure that's this mental model that this framework that actually helps a business, get to repeatable outcomes? Right, that so I'll pause there.

Jared Fuller  19:38

Yeah, it's educating your fellow executives, you know, on the C suite Mark, on on the first principles, the mental models, the things to think about, because those are by their very nature, partnerships community, they don't flow through an operating model the same way. Right. So demand gen. I mean, you can talk about demand gen versus, like demand creation, right like so Chris Walker refine, like he's blows up on LinkedIn all the time talking about these two concepts. And he has a pretty good point is that a lot of marketing companies spend a lot of money on demand gen, which was actually demand capture, not demand creation, right. I saw a post from a fellow HubSpot earlier day, they were talking about peak Buddha, where he was talking about this exact same concept. And how much of a shift it is to go, oh, I need to do demand creation, not demand, capture, these are entirely separate things. And then you throw partnerships into it. Well, that just made my model break more, then you throw community into it. Now, what the hell are you talking about? How am I What's the ROI, the throughput, what's the you all operating models I've ever seen Mark have a and b. Right, A and B, it's like A plus B equals C A plus B equals C, there's this other Delta with God, Isaac,

Isaac Morehouse  20:56

I know this one, I here's my I have a theory I'm developing, I almost I think in marketing, this, you're gonna love this. I think events are the bridge. I think events are the bridge to to connect those and help define, and systematize, those more nebulous motions of partner lead and community lead, especially in the digital era, because what you can do, and I know, because I've been through the the demos on air meet, if we start to treat a virtual experience, or remote experience, like a unique thing, instead of just kind of like, okay, let's take the things that we already know, and slap them on a camera, you get to have the benefits, you get to tap into the data, and the measure ability that content marketing has become so effective with over the years. So you get stuff that like do you think about events typically in person, right? It's like, hey, we go there, we know we're gonna have good conversations, we're gonna get our brand out there. And we don't know exactly how to measure it. But we know that there's now you start to look at things you can look at, hey, we had a virtual room. And when we had this banner up, people stayed for five minutes, when we had this banner up, they stayed for two minutes, right, you can start to tailor these, these virtual experiences and get the data and get the measure ability. And I think events is like a really easy, you can see it it maps on and you can see as we get better and better at creating these virtual experiences and getting the ROI. It's much easier to capture that events sort of are a key component of community, they happen in communities, they create communities after the events, right partners, events are one of the easiest things to partner on. So you start to those start to become easier to do if you start with events because there's it's the I think it's the easiest one to measure right now.

Jared Fuller  22:54

I think I want to I want to tie this together. Because Isaac, I think you just threaded a very complex needle with Mark being here. That's amazing is that what I was saying? Is it's hard to see the throughput on community on partnerships on these other things, what you just said, Isaac? Events are that forcing function is the phrase that I like to use for bringing those things together in a way that's measurable. Right. So like, you know, the old marketing, saying I've said 100 times on this podcast and elsewhere is like, you know, 50% of my marketing budgets wasted. I just don't know what 50%. Right. Like, that's an old thing in marketing. That's a completely true and community and partnerships, like you're throwing stuff away, because there's really it's really hard to measure. But the second that you bring that event together, where you have five partners, and they bring their customers and you bring your community, they bring theirs and you have this multi 1000 person thing happening. You can measure everything. I mean, that's happened for us. That's why we went are like we got to go all in on these remote experiences, these virtual experiences Mark, what's your take on that of like, community and partner can't be measured. So you put stack an event on top of it all of a sudden, you can

Mark Kilens  24:03

I mean, you guys are doing a great job selling all this. So I'll just say yes, and nod my head and move on.

Jared Fuller  24:11

I'm not sure like this is the episode that we want partner leaders to share with their marketing leader, right? So they're like, hey, we need to do more partner marketing, right? We need to do more with our community and our partners out in the market. Why would we go to market alone? When we have this influence of people that are surrounding our customers that are already here? Like why are we just gonna go announced and do this event with why would we not invite our partners to participate as panelists, our community members and highlight and make them famous?

Isaac Morehouse  24:39

And this is where if you don't like, again, I'm just anecdotally I'm spitballing I could be totally off in these theories. But if if you don't, if you kind of believe roughly if you're in marketing, hey, I couldn't believe this stuff about dark social and this stuff about building trust and living in the community living in market. I don't quite know where to get started. It feels a little weird to go like googling templates for good LinkedIn posts and then have teams start posting, it feels kind of mechanical, it almost feels antithetical to building trust and living in community or whatever. What's really cool about events, and you reduce the risk when you partner with someone, because you both get to tap your audiences, you reduce the cost, you get to cut, you know, it's easier to hit your minimum threshold. But if you're new, you do events, you have this ability to, that translates into community content, and partner type costs. So we have this all the time we're in an event and the chat starts blowing up with amazing comments or amazing clips. And what are people doing, we're doing it but so are people were attending the event, which is like free viral stuff, right? They're screenshotting it and be like, Oh my gosh, look at this banger that Mark killings just dropped in this session. Right. And now you're kind of participating in that community in a more organic way you have it kind of it just gives you, it provides you you can after the fact you can do content, follow up content with those partners, and you start to form these relationships, both with your partners and with community members who are not, you know, who are not necessarily partners. I just think it's like a really easy starting point there. It just it has all these like positive effects that start to compound over time.

Mark Kilens  26:15

I mean, yeah, they they act as a center of gravity, right? For a lot of things, you know, good event doesn't matter how big or small it is, right? Because, because every person gives off gives off energy, right? Every person is, is an energy unit. So the more you can get these energy units, aka people together, either digitally or in, in person, theoretically, the more good energy will be created, versus just doing something with a piece of content like, well, that piece of content isn't really gonna give off energy, because it's not really alive. You know, the product, you know, yeah, can give off good energy, but it's different. It's, you know, it's not it's not alive, though, right? It's, it's, it's a tool the other day, there's sales, you know, people, the people, right? You think with that kind of motion, that sales

Isaac Morehouse  27:08

can drain can drain energy from you, if you want to drain sometimes.

Mark Kilens  27:14

There's that there's that? I just Yeah, I just think the energy communities is definitely you know, all about people, right. And it mean, and that's where I am bullish on events, just because it's very innate in the DNA of humans, right? Humans have always been about getting together in a tribe. Right, like going way back in human history, just the way we're biologically programmed. You know, you don't really want to go off and be alone. People want to be together, it all the studies show that when you're together, you're happier, you're more, you're more productive, your life's better, you know. So it's like, isn't that kind of obvious, then for companies to try to get people together? And then do this together between themselves as like you said, you're like, between, you know, the organization's right, where there are these more strategic partnerships. So but here's the thing, I think there's a massive skills gap, just like there's a massive skills gap. Where there was a massive skills gap with how to do good content, you know, how to do good product, live growth, right? And those things still have skills gaps, they're getting filled. But like, you know, we're people doing events as event marketers, right? Like, but like, no, it shouldn't be just event marketers, it should be anyone should be empowered to do an event and see with pro, you know, partner led marketing, right? Like, I told my content marketers, when I was at Drift, and the people at HubSpot, I was always saying 60 to 80% of our content should come from the voice of someone else, we should just there be, we should just be there to empower them to take their expertise and their stories and their experience, and turn that into something that someone can use to learn to be motivated to get to an outcome and whatever it might be, right, like, you know, we're just there as the facilitator if you will, alright, so I just feel like there's there's a skills gap with with this, these three new concepts, this partner event and community led, go to market concepts.

Jared Fuller  29:10

That's a mark killings clippable everyone, right there. That was such a salient way of distilling down mark. What marketing looks like in the, you know, 2020s, versus what it looked like before, at least in the myopic world of b2b where you're building your go to market plan, I need to hire this content marketer, this demand gen, this ad this person, this, this, this this. If you're like, hey, the majority of our content should not be created by us. It's created by other people. You're in that camp, right? Like what a simple measure to understand if Are we are we doing marketing in the 2020s way? Are we doing marketing in the 2010s way? Well, how much of your content is produced by you or outside of your walls? If the majority of the contents produced by you, you're not doing so well, as a marketing leader? You're not doing Marketing, you're trying to do old school demand gen. I think this is a good inflection point to bring up ecosystem week a little bit more, is like a segue because here's what's so interesting about this mark the convergence of these three things. So partner hacker, we have an audience, we're trying to help them with that skills gap to some degree, we're trying to, like, make the people famous, who are actually helping with the skills gap. So we're not doing the coursework per se. But we are, you know, shout out Ferny Oh, shout out partnered on a shout out partnership leaders, all these people that are building coursework, right, like we want to highlight them, right and bring that to light for them and help bridge that skills gap. But we did this event ecosystem week, we ran on air meat, and this actually legitimately is not an ad for air made, like we're just geeking out on this because it was so fun. And we went, that was interesting. Whenever we put partner stack and partner hacker together, we both did better. And you did an interview with us, Tyler Calder, the CMO of partner stack, Isaac, and me. And what Tyler said the CMO partner sec, who isn't a partnerships company, by the way, so like he his mind should be as open to partnerships as anyone, right? Partnerships, tech companies, CMO, and what did he say in that interview that I don't think he'd said ever before that, he said, I'll never do another event alone. Whoa, so if you're a if you're a marketing leader, and your partnerships person has sent you this, think about that Mark kill has just told you don't ever tried to be the person producing the majority of your content. And then you have companies that are like, why would you ever do an event alone? I mean, it actually makes no sense whatsoever. I mean, that was the easy rev growth that drift mark, the perfect example. Right? Like, could we drove that reg by ourselves? Yeah, I mean, without rice, you know, demand basically.

Mark Kilens  31:52

Just gonna, like Yeah, like no, like, like, No, I mean, no, you're always I mean, this is where it's interesting right? Like content marketer aligned to that salesperson aligned to that one you can get that idea right growth marketer, right product growth, right, you know, you have a VIP marketer, the classic definition, right, Community Marketing Manager up, but like partner marketer, right, and like, I think partner marketer, and like, what's the other one that's like, not related to, you know, really any of these was more related to a product lead growth, but it's definitely sales guy like sales lead is like the product marketer, product marketers are like, an envious position because it's such a, you know, it's it's a hard skill sets, they're in high demand, etc, etc. Like, what we need to do on the partner marketing side is like, is is, is part of marketing needs to be integral function within the whole marketing team. It can't just be this thing off to the side. Right. And that's, I think that's the thing going back to like what you were saying with like, say, Nick, who's amazing, who I worked with at HubSpot and drift, but like, you know, we were trying to build the business case, say, we really need this person, when, in fact, if we thought partner led first at the strategic executive level, and made it an imperative and initiative, that never would have to be really a business case to be built, because it's obvious, like just like how you would have an obvious thing when you think about content marketing, or product marketing, or you would hire those people, you know, pretty early and often, right? So it's like it, maybe you'd hire the partner person, even before all those people. Because if it's so embedded into your go to market as like a thing that hits on all of these different cylinders of your go to market, wouldn't that be one of your first three hires. That's another way to look at this to potentially.

Isaac Morehouse  33:34

So one of the things that can happen if you say, alright, we're going to partner you know, we're going to do events together, we're going to do content together. I know this, because I've been there before, with with previous companies, you can feel like, Oh, this is a chore, now I gotta go convince somebody else. And then they're gonna want to do like 15 phone calls to go over whether the content is is worth. And one thing that I have learned, and I'm curious, both of your takes on this, because your point mark about when you get people together, it adds energy. And I made a joke about salespeople, but there is there is a type of time where you can get together with someone where it drains energy, you can get off one of those calls where you're like, I'm so tired, or even looking at your calendar and your like call a call a call. And then you see a call, you're like, I don't want that call. That's like it's already draining my energy. So I'm curious how you, if you're going to do this partner led approach, you can't, you can't hate it, right, you're not going to succeed if you don't like it. And so like, if you're dreading working with a partner, if they're a net drain on time and resources and energy, they don't add energy to it. So how do you figure that out, especially early on, and I'll just give like a simple heuristic that I have used, but I'm curious your thoughts, like, when I stop and think about the people that I genuinely look forward to seeing in my inbox or getting on a call with? It's like, yeah, okay, let's start there. Let's partner with the people that it's enjoyable to talk with. Because that'll be easy, and it'll be fun. And you start there. Where, and you kind of go from there. And I've just often found myself overthinking it, I'll be like, Oh, strategically, who makes the most sense and doing some convoluted thing to try to connect with someone. And it's just like draining me. And it's not working. And then just looking around and be like, Wait, who am I already talking with all the time that I love talking with? Oh, yeah, let me just text them, Hey, we should do something together. Right? So I'm curious for from both of you, if you're gonna do this, how do you? How do you pick? Because you can't be doing it? If it's if it sucks, if it's a drag.

Jared Fuller  35:28

Yeah, and I think evaluating that from the marketing perspective, sorry, I thought you were gonna hop in Mark, because like, obviously, I could rant about who to not partner with from a partners perspective, but from a marketing perspective, where do you hop in and like, go? Yeah, like, we, we want to attach our brand to that, like, we want to work with this company, we don't want to work with this company, this company is an investment that over long term, like, you know, lift on AI adrift, we did tons of stuff with them, that was really cool. But that was like, they were no buddy. But then they started helping a bunch of our customers. Right? So how do you know when to place? You know, co marketing event investments, like seeds? versus, you know, you're watering the big giant tree? Like, oh, yeah, of course, we'll do something with Adobe.

Mark Kilens  36:12

Well, maybe not. I don't wanna say anything bad about Adobe. But you know, I don't know, you know, that's, that's, that's a different beast. Right? So, to me, it's about stage accompany your stage. I mean, at the end of the day, like, you know, I always take the ABC approach, always be connecting, always be right, like, So, a good. A good partner marketer would have this mentality to always be like, on the hunt, or you're always hunting for things. And in for me, it's about experimentation. You know, it's, you know, it's a good classic, like, you know, to buy two or X Y axes, right, you know, and you have, what's the risk? What's the reward? Right, you know, what's what, you know, how much effort are we going to get out of this? You know, how much effort is it gonna be? And what's, what's the investment, right? Like, you can think of it in any of these different ways that these mental models, right, but you basically, from my point of view, you know, if you don't have an established relationship, and I think Isaac, you make a good point on going to the places you have an established relationship, like that could be a good place to start. But like, you do have to look at like, fit and intense. What's the fit of the ICP overlap between the two businesses? And what's what's the intent of the buyers that each business is going after? And like how, how complimentary or not complimentary is?

Jared Fuller  37:28

I want, I want to interrupt you there, Mark, because do events break down that wall? Like, I'll give you a perfect example, like, we're doing this event, which we have not formally plugged pls summit yet. So pls summit.com. That's obviously what we've been talking about this entire time, which is going to be hosted on air meat. But there's a handful of contributors, actually, we have what Isaac, we're gonna have over 100 speakers at this event. It's crazy wild. And we have all these other companies. But what's so crazy is some of them, Mark, you would say aren't a fit from the the two by two that you just talked about. But they can contribute something else. Which is content, right? Like,

Mark Kilens  38:12

I heard this

Jared Fuller  38:14

on the all in podcast the other day of like, why media companies are so popular right now. And that's because content is the product. It's an afterthought. So for partner hacker, for Isaac and me, content is the product. So whenever we put on an event, if I'm able to take a literally one person's startup, like ICP overlap, all of that, no, you would look at that from all the lenses of they're leeching off of this event. Right? They're gonna get leads, or they're gonna do something else, or they're getting brand recognition. Not like I actually want to platform them because they can create really good content. All of a sudden, that matrix falls apart, right? Like if, if you're highlighting someone think about what Paul writes or, or who was the market share pull guy. Right, like, why would HubSpot platform and make famous a guy that had a pool company or at Drift? We had le off? The guy had a hot air ballooning company? No, no.

Mark Kilens  39:19

You're, you're it's two different things here, like so first off, like the content, I think does match into that framework, because the intent and intent might be too broad to say like, okay, it's not so much it's buyer, you know, it's the buyer versus the account fit right but and those buyers that you're you're those people you get to the event have an interest, they had their same problems like that company is talking about you as if it sounds like you guys have like, the same universe. The the audience, right so high level, right? But but then then you're talking about like, you know, market share is an example of like, customer partnership in terms of the in terms of the belief system. The best partnerships are when you Get down to the company and or the individual, whoever you're partnering with, fundamentally has such a similar if not the same belief system that you do. And that's where the magic happens. And that's maybe what's going on with like between partner hacker and aeronwy to some extent, because I think we do a very similar belief systems they're in like, like, so that the ultimate partnership in my mind, like, so there's partnerships that can be just like transactional about the money about the reach. All good, right? Those are necessary yet to do them. But the magic happens when you take those things, plus the belief system alignment, and you're you're creating, you know, the one plus one plus one equals 10. I don't know, whatever you want to call it, kind of equation,

Jared Fuller  40:47

Isaac, I'm not sure that we've ever talked about believing in something bigger as the core tenant to partnerships. Ironically, like when Mark just said that that was such a good clip. And I'm like, how has that not been something that we've directly talked about? Every single partnership needs to be rooted in a belief in something bigger than, by all means. So like, I've talked about this a little bit in like my alliances, talk, like you have to create a vision of a better future, and get that alliance partner to believe that too, and that you're the only partner can do that. But in general, like, if you're talking about an event, like I don't know, you're gonna go do whatever, you're gonna go talk to your marketing team, you're gonna go, Hey, we need to do more marketing with our partners, the events, the forcing function, where you go, Well, what the hell do we stand for, where we can bring our ecosystem, our community, our partners, our everyone together to go, we all believe in this funny journey. And it should have nothing to do with you. Well, so for all my

Isaac Morehouse  41:47

years in the career space, one thing that I tell young people all the time is, if there's a company that excites you, maybe it's a product you use or whatever, but you love their mission, you love their vision, you're totally aligned with their philosophy. Wouldn't you rather work there, and sometimes this thought, like, doesn't even occur to them, like, oh, I guess I love this company, I've been a fan, I stand on the outside, like a fan of this company. I never even thought of pitching them and trying to work there. It's like, you're gonna do your best work, and you're gonna feel the best if you're working somewhere where you're excited, and you share that. That's just the same. It's just the same with partnerships. Like if you come across companies, and you're just like, every time you see their stuff, you're like, Oh, I love it. Every time you hear somebody from there on a podcast, you're like, yes, they're speaking our language. Like, get on the phone, make a call. That's, you know, like, that's sufficient reason, that's the best reason to start exploring a partnership if, if what they're doing excites you. And that's kind of getting back to Mark's point about like, you know, the net addition of energy, their strategic component, the financial component, those all have to make sense. Just like when you're hiring an employee, like love for your mission is one of the greatest things ever, but it's not enough, they need to have the skills necessary to do the job. But it's, it's the part that oddly gets neglected, often, because people kind of like systematize, and focus on whether there's a fit and overlap and this way and that way, but like, just start with that question. Does this company excite you? Are they speaking your language? Do they have the same point of view that you do about the market and about, you know, where things should go?

Mark Kilens  43:22

It's definitely the place to is definitely pleased to begin. It's, I mean, it's a classic, like, start with why situation right, yeah. But I think you know, you over engineer things to focus so much on the science, right? It's like, well, like, no, let's let's talk about feelings. And actually, the crazy crazy thing is like, a lot of companies, though, you know, don't really can't articulate their belief system that well. So like for the marketers listening, one of the first things I did at aremy, was I sat down with the CEO and the other co founders, and said, We have to articulate what we believe. And we have to then articulate our beliefs into a simple two or three word statement, aka tagline that can articulate the value of that belief. And that's how we came up with join together. And that's how HubSpot came up with grow better. Because I was witnessed that at HubSpot. So like you know, in like Nike, just do it, right. So it's like, that's, like, you know, when you can get down to that level of simplicity and clarity. You know, then then you can then you can start cooking with gas because you boiled it down to it's like essence, like, you know, at its finest essence. So anyway, that's just a tangent, but I kind of wanted to bring that up.

Jared Fuller  44:34

No, I mean, what I can think of a better way to end our mission statement at partner hacker mark is to build a world where everyone can win together. And whenever I saw you release the, you know, tagline joined together, I'm like, There's something bigger here, right? Like, that's why I was like, we have to work together mark like I happen to be using your platform. We're talking about two different sides of the same channel. lynge. And I think we're just going to be a case study together on how to build this new world where everyone can win together where they can join together where you can bring your community, your partnerships, your people together for a forcing function of going, Hey, here's community X or flag y. And here's z, which is what we all believe in. I mean, that's a movement. I mean, all markets are created by category creators, about market makers about movement makers. And events are a vital component of that. If you're a if you're a partner person listening to this, use PLF summit.com as an example of like, Hey, here's partner marketing because guess what, there's 90 Plus sessions, there's 100 Plus speakers, these are all partners of ours. We're running this all on air mean, not as a promotion but the fact that air meet and Mark is talking about how you should go to market and joined together why would you and your company, your tech company, your b2b company, not be doing the same thing? It's the easiest starting point for partnerships in my opinion, is partner marketing and partner events where you have an event say hey, here's what we believe in and then you bring the people to that event that also believe in that all partner marketing all partner lead marketing should start with exactly that. That's what we're going to leave you and all these gems from our buddy Mark killings today on partner up Mark It was a pleasure we're gonna see you a PLS summit right here. We're gonna be we're gonna be there on marketing game giving you all the other actual tactical like we're gonna get down to presentation format and secrets. I got

Mark Kilens  46:33

a I got a fun talk coming up to it check out the title on the website if the Oh where is the website? Is the content live yet? I don't know. I gotta you know Oh, heck yeah, let's

Jared Fuller  46:43

appeal like summit.com Yeah.

Mark Kilens  46:45

No, no, no, no, no, no, I know that like the agenda the whole agenda like everyone's talk Oh, no.

Jared Fuller  46:51

Agenda version one of the agenda will be live about the same time that this comes out so yeah, roughly Yeah, actually love it.

Mark Kilens  46:59

Check it out because yeah, 90 sessions. I mean, yeah, I'll leave you with this I you know, joined together to win together grow together, right like there's there's lots of ways you can slice that onion so

Jared Fuller  47:16

amazing. All right. Isaac, as always Mark Great to see you again my friend. Great to see you again. I'll leave everyone with no one knows this about Mark killings but this is Mark signal that's Mark signal. That's that's what you know, Mark killings is in the house that he was the bird emoji?

Mark Kilens  47:36

The parent. Yeah, that's a parent. Yeah. Yeah. So

Jared Fuller  47:39

around the drift offices, you just hear like random, like new mark Higgins was doing something with a crowd of drifters or something. So all right, partner up. Thank you so much. We will see you at the summit pls summit.com. And on the next episode of partner up, peace

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