Modern marketing looks a lot like…product?
How to think like a modern marketer, adapt to 2023's tools, and learn from Anrok's marketing team.
I love seeing what’s possible when marketers think like product orgs and use the modern tools available to them to make high-value content. Yet, I recognize incorporating new tools—some as new a few weeks or months ago—can be overwhelming and intimidating. So I wrote this newsletter and made a video with some early-stage marketers to help.
This newsletter began when I saw a web project shared on LinkedIn from early-stage startup, Anrok. I thought this project was a great example of where “content marketing” and marketing in general is going. So I asked the creators, Devon Watts and Halley Johnson, to join me for a talk to explain very tactically how they created their recent project and how they’re adapting to the fast-changing, wild world of marketing in 2023.
This newsletter is divided into 2 parts to show the importance of adapting to changing marketing trends and tools:
Part 1: An overview of a project created by Anrok that shows how modern marketers can use the latest no code, automation, and AI tools to add value and drive growth. Includes a 13-min video segment of a talk with Devon Watts and Halley Johnson of Anrok marketing (full 30 min video available for paid subscribers).
Part 2: Why marketing orgs need to become more like product orgs. Includes a breakdown of the skills you need to learn to be a modern marketer–or the skills you need to hire for when bringing on your early marketers at startups.
But first, some MKT1 Events we’d love to see you at…
We’ve got a few workshops and courses coming up—all are taught by me and are repeat courses (meaning I’ve iterated on them and they are even better now!)
B2B Marketing Strategy: 2-Hour Workshop next week on 7/19 from 9-11 AM PT.
This interactive workshop will help you focus on the right marketing activities for your specific business by better understanding your audience, market, GTM motion, and marketing advantages. $250,10% off for paid subscribers. Register here.
Building Websites that Convert: 4-hour workshop over 2 days (3rd cohort) - 8/9 & 8/10 9-11 AM PT
Learn how to get more out of your B2B startup's website. Get actionable advice to make your website convert better. Includes peer review. $500, 10% off for paid subscribers. Register here
Building B2B Marketing for Startup Marketing Leaders: 5-Week Course (5th cohort) - October 2023
Our flagship course for early & growth stage marketing leaders. Learn how to have a larger impact on your startup’s growth–and become a more well-rounded leader. Apply here.
Part 1: Marketer Made
A Breakdown of Anrok’s Sales Tax Index
I chatted with Devon and Halley to dive deep into The SaaS Sales Tax Index, the project I mentioned above. Now, I don’t love sales tax, but I got really amped up about this project—and not just because Anrok, a Series A startup that automates sales tax compliance, is an MKT1 Portfolio company. The video from this chat (shared below) is now the first in a new series I’m calling “Marketer Made”.
Why did I get so excited? Neither Devon or Halley are engineers, yet they built 50+ dynamic web pages that update based on data in Airtable plus a lead capture flow—in less than 2 weeks. Devon and Halley’s small team of 3 at Anrok exemplifies what it means to be a modern marketing org leveraging all tools available to them. And the results are really helpful resources for prospects and customers.
What they built
Anrok built a state-by-state SaaS sales tax index for SaaS companies to help companies determine where their product is taxable
They created a “hub” page for the overall index and summary of all states, 53 subpages for US states and territories, and a conversion flow (with follow up emails) to sign up for Anrok as the CTA.
Like any good project, they started with MKT1’s GACCS brief
Before you create anything of substance in marketing, I recommend you break down the project using this quick brief format: Goals, Audience, Creative, Channels/Distribution, Stakeholders. Here’s the GACCS for Anrok’s Sales Tax Index:
Goal: Create a sales tax index that provides answers to questions about state by state taxability.
Increase SEO traffic
Ultimately, drive qualified leads and revenue
Audience: Finance leaders at SaaS companies trying to figure out evolving state by state tax requirements
Creative: Reflect the ease of using the Anrok product in the page design and make it very specific to the SaaS audience.
Be concise and get to the point–don’t waste anyone’s time.
Make visitors understand the complexity of figuring sales tax out for their business, and therefore the necessity of using tool like Anrok
Competitors serve more company types/a large audience, make that an advantage for Anrok by being specific to SaaS
Channels: Anrok Website. New “Hub” page for sales tax index with 53+ sub-pages
Primary driver of traffic: SEO
Secondary drivers: Outbound & Social
Down funnel: Follow up email with an additional lead magnet that is more specific to the prospect’s business
CTA: Sign up for Anrok at bottom of all pages
Stakeholders: Owner: Halley, Marketer; Reviewer: Devon, Head of Marketing; Contributors: Eng team who has this data in Airtable & sales tax team of experts for content
Why I love this project
Devon and Halley really think of “content marketing” as another product Anrok creates—which is a philosophy I recommend all marketing teams adopt.
Some other reasons I love this project:
Takes advantage of existing assets: Taps into data the team already had and used to build the product.
Value to their audience! Provides useful information without the audience having to jump through hoops (aka a million form fields).
Clear way to distribute: Can quickly rank for many keywords using a programmatic approach to making pages to drive traffic.
Generates high-intent leads: If someone is looking for this information, they are likely in a relevant role and don't yet have a solution like Anrok.
Marketing team built this themselves: Using no-code tools, generative AI, and dynamic content.
Other teams at Anrok love it: Sales wants to use it. Engineers think its a great use of data. Cross-functional love is a great sign of a successful marketing project.
To watch the full video, upgrade to a paid MKT1 Newsletter subscription.
If you’re already a paid subscriber, full video is available at the bottom of this newsletter.
Part 2: Why the Anrok project matters to all startup marketing teams
Marketing teams must think like product orgs and expand their martech skillsets to drive growth in 2023
My talk with Devon and Halley also solidified my thoughts on what great marketers look like in 2023. Now—more than ever—marketers must possess the skillsets of an entire product organization to be successful.
Marketing teams are becoming less and less like sales teams and more like product teams. If you keep thinking of marketing like a service organization to sales, you’ll get left farther and farther behind, and your growth will stall.
So, to be a successful startup marketer in 2023 in addition to being great at distribution, you must be:
an audience & product expert
a no-code engineer and web developer
a designer and copywriter
a user researcher
a data analyst
a martech specialist
If you happen to be at a startup that isn’t resource constrained right now (is that a thing?!), you may get to pull in experts to help you in these areas. But most likely you’ll need to step up here. Luckily, you can use new martech to do so.
Here are newish skills and concepts you need to master:
🧲 Think of content as a product
Stop writing just blog posts, but also build no-code products that actually add value and serve as lead magnets (like a calculator, template, or index)
Try building with Bubble.io
See this list of no-code tools to make almost anything.
🛠️ Leverage modern martech
Modern tools make it easier to automate part of your workload, freeing up your time to make things more useful to your audience, optimize more for conversion, or spend more time on distribution.
Use generative AI to augment & add efficiency to your process. I’m loving Byword for this due to the easy integrations with Webflow & WordPress.
Discover and build with no-code and automation tools. If you don’t have a few Zaps built out, you are already behind. Also, check out Whalesync to make programmatic SEO pages.
For a list of a ton more of these new tools, I started a Linkedin Thread on the topic early this week and got way too many results to include here.
🕸️ Build a high-converting website and update it yourself
You must be proficient in Webflow and be able to make copy and design updates, add new pages and page sections.
And if your company isn’t using Webflow, you should help make the switch when the time is right.
You also need to learn how to use Webflow’s dynamic CMS functionality. “Dynamic content describes content that is connected to data in the Webflow CMS — content that changes. When you use dynamic content, your design is linked to CMS data so you can update multiple instances of content all at once.” Lot’s more on this in the example from Anrok.
🏃♀️ Create something, personalize it, reformat it & distribute it everywhere
The MKT1 concept of “mileage” or getting as much distribution as possible out of the “fuel” you create is easier to deliver on than ever.
Personalization is becoming more and more popular. Because it is so much easier to make a bunch of landing pages programmatically, you can quickly make landing pages for every partner, every target account, etc. You can also use tools like Mutiny to do this really fast.
Similarly, it’s much easier to produce lots of design iterations quickly. Customize images, ads, etc to make the creative feel as personalized as possible.
🪣Stop measuring your success by MQL Goals
Marketing’s role is full-funnel, not just top of funnel. You need to be able to track from lead source to revenue to upsell.
As you create new types of assets, think not just about how many leads they drive, but how they impact the full funnel. This will help you prioritize the right projects, the ones that drive high-intent, qualified leads all the way through the purchase process.
For a list of other skills marketers need to have to succeed at a startup, check out this post on hiring a first marketer. Or consider taking my 5 week long course “Building B2B Marketing” to expand your marketing leadership skillset, next cohort kicks off in October.
What’s your startup’s “Sales Tax Index”?
As a marketer at startups for over 10 years, I often felt limited by the inability of me and my team to code, design, access data, etc. We couldn’t turn all of our ideas into reality. Now all of these ideas are possible (well…most).
And beyond this being possible, it’s necessary. With ChatGPT and other AI tools making it easy for anyone to make a blog post (albeit a derivative one) and no-code tools making the bar to build anything much lower, you must find new ways to actually add value to your audience. And you must expand your marketer skillset to stay relevant. I hope you are excited about the possibilities—the time for marketers is now.
Open marketing roles from the MKT1 community
If you are a candidate interested in these roles, or startup marketing roles generally, fill out our form.