A One-on-One with Stephanie Tilton

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A One-on-One with Stephanie TiltonIf she’s not already, Stephanie Tilton is about to become your content marketing idol. She’s been in the B2B marketing industry for more than 20 years and owns a marketing consulting company, Ten Ton Marketing. Stephanie is one of the six “Savvy Sisters” behind the savvyb2bmarketing blog and her work has been featured by dozens of marketing organizations, including the American Marketing Association and the Content Marketing Institute. And then there’s the work she does for her clients, which includes heavy hitters such as Akamai Technologies, LinkedIn and Marketo.

Somehow in between all of her work she found time to have an email interview with me about the state of marketing. Check it out and be sure to share your thoughts!

How did you get started in marketing?

Completely by accident. I was filling in at a small high-tech company for an employee who was out on maternity leave and ended up staying on. Like many of my colleagues, I pitched in wherever help was needed because that’s what it takes to keep small companies going. I ended up working my way into marketing by writing and editing newsletters and other communications.

What are some of the biggest changes from marketing today as opposed to when you started?

A better question is “What hasn’t changed?” I helped launch the company’s first website. It was a complete brochureware site, but that was the standard. There were no social media channels being used for business back then. I didn’t hear the term “integrated” or “multi-channel” marketing until I’d been in the field for nearly 10 years.

Our lead generation revolved around sending out direct mail pieces accompanied by a sales letter. The majority of leads got passed right to sales as soon as they came in the door, with no concept of nurturing or pre-qualifying. We gauged the success of our campaigns by the number of responses to our offers.

There was no concept of developing buyer personas, mapping content to the buying stages, and providing information that was helpful but not specifically about the product being sold.

Why do you think content marketing has been so successful?

If by successful you mean it’s helped marketers more effectively reach and connect with their audience, the jury is still out. But content marketing has certainly seen great uptake. I think the two main reasons are because organizations recognize it’s how they can:

  • Satisfy self-empowered buyer demands for educational information
  • Stay engaged with buyers until they’re ready to talk to sales

What are your thoughts on social media marketing? Will it be replaced by something new in the next few years?

Social media marketing is an important part of the overall mix. If a company’s target audience spends time in social media channels, it’s important that the organization listens to and engages them there. If I could tell you whether or not it would be replaced by something new, I could probably retire tomorrow 😉

What marketing tactic do you feel provides the biggest ROI?

I don’t believe it’s any one tactic. In today’s omni-channel world, the most effective marketing reaches and engages prospects and customers wherever they choose to spend time, delivering whatever it is they’re seeking. Providing a truly seamless, customer-focused experience regardless of how the individual interacts with the company is what delivers the biggest return.

We’ve already seen a huge increase in targeted messages online. Do you think this type of marketing will become more in-depth or do you think consumers will rebel against the tactic because of privacy concerns?

It’s like anything that shakes up the status quo – some people welcome it, some don’t pay it much attention, and some are up in arms. As long as we keep buying into the sites and apps put out by the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon and the other giants out there, we’ll continue to see more of this type of marketing.

What are some tips you have for young marketers in corporate jobs?

  • Be a sponge when it comes to the latest marketing techniques and technologies.
  • Develop as broad a base of skills and experience as possible, then zero in on one area where you can establish yourself as an expert.
  • Attend conferences and other events to pick up new ideas and develop a professional network.
  • Pay attention to the convergence of marketing and technology, as evidenced by emerging roles like Chief Marketing Technologist.

Why do you think you’ve been so successful?

I’ve evolved with the times, established and maintained a presence and connections via social media, have focused on becoming expert in a niche, and am committed to exceeding client expectations.

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