2021 Contributors of the Year: Carter Hostelley


What worked in the business world 20 years ago won’t work today. Just ask Blockbuster. Business now is an act of constant reinvention — something Leadtail CEO Carter Hostelley understands. In his columns and his work advising marketing leaders on social media and beyond, he pushes us all to question previous approaches to selling, marketing and building our businesses. 

Throughout, Carter draws a direct line between internal and external, advocating for recognizing the strengths, the potential and the power of employees in becoming your strongest brand advocates. 

You Won’t Succeed Based on Products Alone

What excites you about your field today?

The ever-changing nature of social media and the implications it has for B2B marketing. For instance, how can LinkedIn events support your social selling efforts? What if social advertising is the new SEO … what does this mean for your content marketing approach? What impact does the rise of employee advocacy, B2B influencer marketing and Social ABM have for your overall marketing strategy? New questions are emerging every day … it sure keeps things interesting!

If people could use only one word to describe you, what word would you want them to use?

Learner. If you aren’t adapting your thinking, then having years of marketing experience has actually become a liability. Simply put, you can’t run the same marketing plays that worked in the past given how the buying process, marketing technologies and digital landscape are all transforming. So, forget experience and focus on developing expertise. To do this you must get good at learning, unlearning and learning again.

What’s one lesson that we collectively can’t seem to learn?

You can’t win doing the same things that everyone else is doing. I work with a lot of startup companies who use the same marketing best practices as the dominant incumbents they compete against. These startups will struggle in the marketplace with this approach, no matter how innovative their products are. My recommendation? Figure out what will be best practices in three to five years and start doing them today.

What work-related trend will you be watching in the year(s) ahead?

How the power dynamic is shifting from employers to employees. Treat your people right, empower them, take their concerns into account as you build your organizations. It doesn’t matter how great your products and services are if you can’t hire or keep the best people. This approach will be a strategic advantage for those leaders that embrace this mindset.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

Business is a contact sport. You need to be aware of and manage your stress levels. Unplug and take time off. Get enough sleep. Seek out and build a supportive and collaborate company culture. I got this advice 20 years ago — and it’s more important than ever today.

If you could make one wish for your industry for 2022, what would it be?

Stop thinking demand generation and start thinking community building. Said another way, helping is the new selling, advocacy is the new brand awareness, and aligning with the mission of the buyer community is the best way to build your brand. Plus, it’s so much more empowering as a marketer to be focused on serving a community and generating new business from being helpful — than spending all your time on the never-ending chase for leads, leads and more leads.



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