Marketo Marketing Nation Summit Key Takeaway: Know and Grow Your Audience First

May 13, 2016 — by Lauren Fritsky    

I just spent three days in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Marketing Nation Summit, held by our technology partner and provider of marketing automation software Marketo. The event brought together more than 5,000 marketers excited to learn more about the Marketo platform, evaluate other technologies to complement their marketing efforts, get deeper insights on topics such as content marketing and demand generation and network. A common theme was woven through the variety of sessions I attended: You have to know and grow your audience first before you can expect to get a return on your marketing investment.

Many of the session speakers spoke to how incredibly data-driven marketing has become. While that’s a fantastic thing, focusing on just a numbers game—more form fill-outs, downloads, views, etc.—can backfire if you haven’t done the proper work upfront to get to know (really know) who you’re trying to reach, why and, most importantly, what that customer base wants.

How do marketers more effectively build audience? A lot of it starts with the content they put out. Marketers often put out content their audience doesn’t want. It might be too much about the marketer’s product or service or simply not have a compelling story or hook to entice their audience to read or consume it. So how do marketers get better at this? Here are a few tips from some of the Marketo Nation speakers:

  • Be bigger, braver and bolder: Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, repeatedly conveyed the message that marketers need to go bigger with their content or go home. Break away from the status quo and create more innovative, interesting experiences that a brand’s audience might not expect from their (or any) brand. How do you do this? One way is to…

  • …Make content that’s not about your product. Many of the examples of successful marketing campaigns shared at the Summit included content that told stories that resonated on a more human, personal level that had very little to do directly with the product. Many also had an actual narrative arc to help guide the story to a purpose that would grab the specific audience. Examples included:
      • Slack created longer podcasts and then divvied them up into “Snackable Segments” so their audience could watch shorter clips on the fly
      • Marriot created the Two Bellmen short film, which won numerous awards and pulled in more than 5 million views on YouTube
      • The Humane Society of Silicon Valley created a six-minute film about an obese man who got a rescue dog that literally helped save his life

  • Create shorter, more fun pieces of content and just get them out the door. Jay Acunzo, VP of NextView Ventures and creator/host of, a podcast about craft and creativity in business, echoed the sentiment about story-telling but also cautioned marketers not to let this present bottlenecks. While some marketing efforts require more resources and time to execute, marketers can also find shorter, easier ways to get great content into the universe. Short videos, vivid graphics and interactive pieces of content are small things that can do big things for audience engagement.

  • Have a mission statement for each audience. Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute and author of Content Inc., recommended marketers create a mission statement that includes their core target audience, what will be delivered and the outcome for the audience. All content should filter from that mission for that audience.

  • Pursue one content type and one main channel per audience. Pulizzi further suggested that one of the problems with content marketing today is that marketers are using a variety of channels, sometimes as many as a dozen, with no specific strategy for each. He recommended marketers not only know specifically why they are using a given channel but also create one content type on one main channel for each audience. Narrowing the focus this way can help marketers tell deeper stories and provider richer content experiences that resonate.

If you were at Marketo Marketing Nation Summit, we’d love to hear what you learned. See you at next year’s event.