02 Dec Winning At Digital Marketing With JP Clement, CEO of Boomtime
Well-targeted and crafted digital marketing is key to business success nowadays. It allows you to reach a bigger audience while making sure they get your intended message. But this is more than just being visible on social media and constantly producing engaging content. Matthew Sullivan sits down with JP Clement, CEO of Boomtime, to discuss making digital marketing strategies more holistic and relatable. He explains what it takes to develop the right content that truly resonates with the people and the most important KPI factors to consider. JP also talks about bringing back the human aspect into digital marketing, emphasizing the best approach in choosing the appropriate person to stand as the face of your company.
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WINNING AT DIGITAL MARKETING WITH JP CLEMENT, CEO OF BOOMTIME
JP is the CEO of boomtime. He has over 30 years of experience in marketing, digital strategy and product management for companies ranging from startups to global brands such as Madison Square Garden, General Mills, DFS Group Ltd., Johnson & Johnson and National Geographic.
We’re going to start. No preamble, nothing planned. JP, tell me about boomtime. That’s the company that you run.
I joined boomtime about a year ago as CEO. The company has been around for several years. It had many lives, almost like a cat. In this current iteration, we’re a digital marketing agency with a twist. The twist is that we still are developing our proprietary software, which is a platform that we use to run our marketing campaigns and other aspects of our business.
That tool makes us better marketers because we’re more consistent, what we do is more repeatable. We generate a lot of analytics that read in our platform that we can look at to see what’s working and what’s not working. It makes us way more efficient. We are using that platform for ourselves but also it has a ripple effect, which is we can price our services at a level that is much cheaper than our competition and better suited to small and medium-sized businesses, which are our target market.
It’s interesting because digital marketing has many different layers. A couple of things that many people are not aware of is the level of activity of non-humans, bots and other types of automated mechanisms that give you the feeling that your campaigns are running better than they are. If you’re running your platforms, are you able to look through those types of events and see the true picture of how effective a campaign is as opposed to what it seems to be?
Our platform doesn’t do that per se because it generates much data and analytics. We present the analytics in a way that makes sense to our clients and also to ourselves. We can ferret out those things.
How big a problem is it?
First, a little bit of a disclaimer, the vast majority of our clients are B2B businesses. In this world of B2B businesses, the numbers in terms of addressable markets for these types of clients and what they do, we’re not talking about millions and millions of people like the B2C market. What you’re talking about is way more prevalent in the B2C space than in the B2B space.
You don’t save a lot when you have a couple of thousand clients out there reaching out to these clients or potential customers. You don’t have to automate it to make it efficient. In the B2C space where you’re talking to millions of potential consumers, then it becomes critical. There’s a lot more of that going on because automation pays much larger dividends.
The other issue that has sprung up is this change in the Apple iOS, the operating systems, which is locking out a lot of the analytics that we used to be able to rely on. In the B2B environment, that may not have had such an impact but is that something that you’re seeing impacts or is that becoming problematic for you in any way?
There are all kinds of ways around it. There are all kinds of tools out there. Unfortunately, some of them you have to pay for but there are still a lot of free and good tools for analytics out there that allow you to get the KPIs still that you need to run your campaigns in your business. At boomtime, we’re not affected by that and even our clients but that could be more prominent and more of a problem in the B2C space.
B2B is a very different kettle of fish than B2C. The messaging is very different. What are the key differences that you would describe as a B2B marketer as opposed to a much more broadcast B2C marketer?
B2B marketer, there’s a lot of small and some big differences. One of them that we talked about is the size of the addressable market. Typically, we deal with clients between the low thousands to hundred thousand businesses in their target market. We’re not talking millions here. That’s a big difference. Also, another difference is the way you can reach out to this potential market. There are tools that work way better for that, like LinkedIn versus more mass media tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and those kinds of things.
It’s still digital marketing but the specific tools that you use are pretty different. Also, one of the big differences for me, because I spent a lot of time on the B2C side than the B2B side, on the corporate side and on the agency side, is B2B marketing is way closer to sales than it is in the B2C space. A lot of the marketing, we do sound almost like a business development or sales approach, which is quite a big difference. Branding is still critical in the B2B space but it expresses itself differently. The relationships you have with your customers are very different. Not just in terms of quality but ensures the quality. The type of relationships you have, how are you formed this and what marketing to achieve that.
One of the interesting things that I’ve noticed or that I’ve learned in the B2B space is that you have to go back a few steps. Before you can have a successful B2B campaign, the first thing is to get everyone to agree on what the message is. As part of your discovery process, when you’re talking to the C-level executives. If you put all of them in a room, let’s say four people on the board, in most cases, if you say, “What does your company do? What is the key thing you want to get across?” You’ll get four different answers. Is that part of the challenge to try and get everyone on the same page?
To a certain extent, we only deal with one point of contact because of the issues that you tend to talking about but they have to do their own internal selling. We spend a lot of time with our clients trying to define what their point of difference is and what exactly are the personas that they’re talking to. We define personas.
It’s important, especially in the B2B space to define it. For instance, if you’re sending a piece of software, you might want to sell it to a CTO, CRO or SCO. They’re only the people saying yes to the expense but someone else down the food chain at that company might be the one making the decision as to whether you were a better fit for what they want versus your competitor. Defining those personas is supercritical. Then you have to decide how you’re going to talk to each of these different personas.
These are common threads, this concept of defining your customer and the persona. It’s not about the product because everyone wants to stampede to the product first. What feedback do you get from your customers when you say, “Slow down turbo. Let’s figure out who you want to talk to first?”
Market leaders in any industry become leaders because they sell you not on what or how they do it, but on why they do it.
It’s pretty well-received, in general. We have some people who don’t understand why we’re going through that exercise. We have to educate them as to why that’s critical and important. We don’t get too much pushback overall. It is something that’s pretty critical that you need to get a consensus on at the very beginning of the campaign because otherwise, you don’t know whether it’s going to be a big mess and not be able to move forward, efficiently and effectively.
My next question is, is there a particular sector that you’re focused on that you’ve developed some real expertise or very much like a broad-brush approach?
It has been proven through my career that digital marketing works for any company and industry. It’s a must-have at this point. It’s a fully strategic type of endeavor that any company should be involved in. For ourselves at boomtime because of our history and some of the people who started a company years ago, we’re strong in professional services.
Think about CPA firms, legal firms, consulting firms and things like that, also, in the B2B tech space. We deal with a lot of B2B companies that sell to every business but what they’re doing is difficult to understand and get across. Where we come into play is first, finding the right medium to push those messages through but also how to exactly talk about it.
Even lawyers, who are good at creating words and messaging, it’s very hard to figure out exactly how to talk about their business in an efficient way. We do a lot of that with our clients. We create a lot of content and generate a lot of ideas on how to talk about these companies, so it resonates with our target market and drives the right leads.
That’s critical. Being professional is very difficult because you can’t say that our accounting is better than your accounting or my interpretation of the law is better than anyone else’s because that’s not the selling point. The challenge is how do you find the unique selling points. How do you find those points of leverage in industries that are by definition professional? In the sense, it’s quite difficult to elicit those things.
We spend a lot of time at the beginning of our campaigns talking with the stakeholders of our clients to try to unearth points of difference. Sometimes it’s in the history of the company, how it was founded and built or may be in what we specialize in. It might be in some things that they do a little differently from other people. We’re talking about marginal differences here, but that marginal difference can make an overall big difference in how they’re going to be perceived.
Also, the mere fact that they are doing marketing while a lot of their competitors are not doing marketing is a big plus. Very often, that’s one of the big selling points where we can talk about anything as long as we talk about something. Something that we focus a lot on, which there’s a big point of difference, is something that came out of a TED Talk about years ago by a guy named Simon Sinek. It’s about the why.
It’s a fabulous TED Talk. It’s only eighteen minutes but it’s the best eighteen minutes you spend if you haven’t seen it. He says, “Market leaders in any industry don’t succeed and become leaders because they sell you what they do or how they do it. They’ll sell you on the why they do it.” We do that for ourselves at boomtime because we tested a bunch of things on ourselves before we roll it out to our clients. That’s what we tell our clients, “Why are you doing what you’re doing?”
This is what we’re going to sell. That leads to super interesting conversations and usually enables us to unearth the little nuggets about them like, “This is what we’re going to talk about it. This is what can be found.” It’s easier for B2B tech companies because they have a specific technology and bring something different there by definition. We can talk about that. For personal services, that’s how we proceed and how we get to what we need to make the campaign successful.
Digital marketing in many different layers, things, everything from this to that is online but what works best? How do you engage people in a B2B environment?
On the last count, there were over 40 different types of digital marketing that you could do, from this to that, influencer marketing, PPC, SEO, content marketing, loyalty marketing, on and on. Our secret sauce is that we’ve done and we do all of the above. We know how to get together different types of digital marketing, a holistic manner that creates some synergies and makes the campaigns successful.
We’ve identified several needs and challenges that most of our clients face. We’ve built packages around those. If they’re going to have to be slightly different, what we do best is we listen to our clients. They tell us what they do, why they do it, what their challenges are and then we ask a lot of questions. From that, we can say, “For this type of client in that industry with these challenges, this is the package where it makes the most sense.”
You talk about LinkedIn. LinkedIn doesn’t work if you’re trying to sell TV sets for example.
If you’re trying to sell a consulting service to the oil and gas in the industry, it’s fabulous.
What’s the approach? We’re running ads on LinkedIn saying, “We’re the best CPA from the oil and gas industry.” There’s this cadence. This is a two-part question. The first part describes the sequence or the structure of the campaign. The other part of the question is digital marketing is not just one thing or an ad. You’ve got to almost be in all places at the same time where one piece of digital marketing is reinforcing the other. Can we dispel this fallacy that having an ad, for example, checks the box of digital marketing?
There are already 40 different types of digital marketing. They work together synergistically. That’s the way we’re put on together like that because there is no silver bullet. When you have 40 different types of digital marketing that you can do, not one is not going to work. We get a lot of clients that have come to us and say, “We need to run a Google ads campaign.” We’re like, “Hold on. First, what are you trying to do?” Then we go through the process.
For instance, our biggest seller in terms of the package, is the package where we do take over a LinkedIn profile for someone at the company. It could be a CEO, president, the owner of the company or sometimes the lead sales guy or gal. We do it and we take over their profile. We have our own proprietary LinkedIn tool that automates a lot of the work that we find the right targets by doing some very specific and refined advanced searches. Then we try to create those connections.
We have a lot of expertise doing that by creating the right type of message with the right frequency. We use that. Our connection rate is high. We managed to add more leads and then we can qualify those leads. Push them if I want to add a push of a button into a CRM or Customer Relationship Management system.
In parallel with that, we create content for our clients. We distribute that content on LinkedIn but also via email. Email is a very powerful tool that’s been around forever. People tend to forget about email but in digital marketing, it’s year on year, the highest ROI that you can get in digital marketing. It’s email marketing.
We generate content. We have different types of email marketing sequencing that we use to get, whether it’s a new lead or lead that’s been around for a while. We communicate with them to get them to nurture them throughout the process. What we do is we take over a portion. Sometimes we design landing pages or redo a website for a client. We do that too.
When we do that, we install some lead capture tools that help to keep growing that email marketing list and nurture those leads of that whole process. Our LinkedIn campaign, not only creates the connections and leads but also makes the client look like thought leaders in their industry. We try to push those interactions on LinkedIn and also to the websites so we can capture that very precious email from a prospect. Something that people might not realize on your connection list is you don’t own that. That’s LinkedIn’s list. Your email marketing list is a huge asset that you do own and control.
I remember we used to be able to download all of the email addresses.
It was a long time ago. All of these elements work together to create a better image for the company, more content, capture leads, nurture those leads and so on. It all works to gather. It’s something that takes a little of time. Especially in the B2B space, your sales cycles might be pretty long. There are leads that might not be ready but we have tools that keep you top of mind as a client with those leads. If 3 months or 6 months from now they are ready, then you were still there in front of them. This is where our campaigns are typically 6 months to 1 year.
What mistakes or howling errors do you come across if you’re coming into cleanup and restart a campaign that the previous marketing manager did?
The first one we talked about is like, “I need to do a PPC campaign.” A lot of time, the people we talk with don’t have a great sense of how digital marketing works. It’s daunting because it’s very complex. They do not necessarily know all the different types of digital marketing that you can do, what the pluses and minuses are and all of that. We do a lot of education. What do we see a lot is thinking very narrow and not realizing the breadth of what can be done, thinking that there is a silver bullet when there is no silver bullet.
A lot of the time, those people lack knowledge and time. They don’t take the time to think through where the company is at, what their product services are, how they compare to marketplace, what’s they’re point to difference is and why they do what they do. That lack of self-awareness and not doing the homework to be able to devise the right strategy is something that we see a lot of.
The other thing we see a lot of is not setting KPIs. One of my old mentors used to tell me about this many years ago. He said, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.” A lot of our clients have that issue. We educate them a lot and we do it for them. You have to set some KPIs for any marketing campaign. Have a very clear objective, figure out what the numbers or what measurements are going to tell you, whether you’re on the right track or not. If you don’t do that, you can do anything in marketing. I have no idea whether it’s working or not.
It’s like Henry Ford who said that, “I know that half of my advertising works but I don’t know which half.” You mentioned this concept on LinkedIn of creating content that positions your client as thought leaders. You’ve got the hammer where you’re flooding with ads or clicks. How important is the content itself and what you say?
It’s very important, especially in the B2B space, maybe less in the B2C space. A lot of these companies that we deal with have a very obscure specialty or technology. They’re trying to get that across. You have to make sure that the people that they talk to, especially when it’s a new lead or someone that doesn’t know much about them feel comfortable dealing with that company.
Content can be a lot of different things. We do videos, podcasts and write blog articles. We write white papers for our clients. We do infographics and all this. All of these things are meant to make people understand who that company is, what they do and why they do it, especially because of his long sales cycles. Also, the fact that a client for a B2B company tends to have high CLV, Customer Lifetime Value. All of this goes together. Creating that content to differentiate our clients from their competitors and create that connection with an engagement with their target market is necessary.
There is no silver bullet when you have 40 different types of digital marketing that you can do.
How important is the humanity behind those connections? You’re talking about professional services, where a lot of it is down to the ability of the people to provide the service as opposed to the things that they built. This concept of digital marketing dehumanizes that relationship. Do you see a resurgence of video or are you training people to communicate in a way that is in a more vulnerable, more human? Is that something that’s important?
A mistake that a lot of people make if they run their own LinkedIn and if you’re using LinkedIn as a marketing tool, for instance, is that they think that on LinkedIn, you’re talking to companies. You’re not. It’s a social network. You’re talking to someone, to an individual that may represent a company, that may work for a company but you’re talking to people.
Our messaging on LinkedIn is very personable, engaging and soft sell. It’s about creating the connection. If you come and talk about business or whatever to someone and you’re not creating that connection, they’re probably going to turn you down, even if it makes sense for them to connect with you. We spend a lot of time on that.
Honestly, those relationships and connections, that personalization of your messaging or whatever is going to separate you from your competitors because they might not be doing it. Also, it’s part of your brand. Branding is still critical in B2B marketing. Your branding is not just your logo, colors and typeface. It’s how you interact with your customers. How you service those customers after they become customers. There is a lot of elements to branding. How you talk to these people whether it’s on LinkedIn, your emails or anywhere else is critical. You can make a huge difference.
A lot of people that I’ve come across will try and hide behind this corporate identity, which is the logos, the corporate speak, the corporate brochure and the website. As individuals, they hide away. They don’t realize that the success of their business depends on their ability to communicate, put themselves in front of their business and be the face or the voice.
We help all our clients with that stuff. Sometimes it also comes down to picking the right person to be the face of the company on LinkedIn or in some other places. It doesn’t always have to be the CEO. It could be someone else. It could be the lead scientist.
People naturally are afraid of doing that though, even though it’s their business. These entrepreneurs that have built these businesses, in many cases, will be like shrinking violets when it comes to PR.
That’s why we do it for them. We become their voice. We shape their voice. We’re working closely with them. We spent a lot of time thinking about the tone and how are we going to approach this or talk about things. It works because we do all the work for them, even if they are the type of a shrinking violet. We do it for them, so it makes it much easier for them. They don’t have to worry about anything except saying, “This is a good or not a good lead.”
If you were to summarize the connection in B2B marketing, it’s people. It’s still that mano a mano but done digitally, I suppose.
Pretty much. At least, with the businesses that we specialize in helping, that’s exactly it. It has to be very personable. We deal with the president, CEO of a company, the founder or the managing partner, if it’s a law firm or something like that. They’re becoming the face and voice of the company. That works incredibly well.
You’ve got various metrics. You’ve got how many clicks, opens, downloads and email addresses. What would you say are the critical KPIs? What are the things that you’re looking for in a campaign that indicates that this is going to be a successful campaign?
It sounded a bit wishy-washy but it depends. It’s true, though. There are going to be different KPIs for different campaigns and companies. Even the same type of campaign for different companies will have different KPIs because they might have different challenges or objectives. What we look at a lot is more about engagement. How many people engage with the content that we put out for you? It’s all about a cost per lead or cost per conversion. That’s why we measure all of that very intensively because, in the end, it’s going to give you the idea of whether something is working or not.
In the absence of LinkedIn, if we were to strip that out of the equation, what are you working on that may supersede? The problem with these platforms is if you build your business on a third-party platform like Facebook, they change their algorithms every third Tuesday almost. How do you protect against something outside of your control like that?
This is why we said there are no more silver bullets. There’s a need to use a lot of lead bullets, not just one silver bullet. We might have a campaign where it doesn’t work very well, so we’ll switch. We can do Google Ads. We can spend more time on this SEO. There are enough tools in the digital marketing arsenal or quiver so you can pick what works and what doesn’t work. The beauty of digital marketing is that you can try something and then if it doesn’t work, you can switch for something else.
It’s almost instant gratification because you get that instant feed.
For some clients we have, we’re using Facebook because it works better for them. Although not our favorite tool but in some cases, it works better. This is why we avoid putting all our eggs in one basket for any of our clients and use multiple tools in this holistic model that I described to make sure that if something doesn’t work or something disappears, which can happen too in the digital space, you still have something in place that’s going to work.
Is there a particular tool other than the software that you would recommend or something that has impressed you in terms of giving you access or insight into what’s happening with your campaign?
There are so many different types of digital marketing, so there is no single tool. We are a huge fan of Google Analytics. It ties to so many different things and it works well. It’s free, which is nice. There are very few tools that give you the full picture. We also use tools like SEMrush. It’s specifically about SEO that helps you with SEM, Search Engine Marketing.
It’s also good at social media tracking and does a lot of what Google Analytics does. It’s not cheap but it’s very powerful. We use SEMrush a lot for content marketing. We can do searches about what keywords resonate with the target market we have. We can build our content around those keywords that we know are going to resonate with the target.
The important thing with all of this is it’s not abstract art. It’s a science that is based on trial, error, information and results.
When we tell our clients that we use SEO tools to create the best content possible and look at all the analytics after we create the content to make sure that we’re on the right track, they’re like, “Analytics for content?” I’m like, “Yes. For content, it’s critical.”
I’m going to switch gears. I’m going to move across to my fabulous ten questionnaire. Hopefully, this has caught you on the hop and you weren’t expecting this. Question number one, what is your favorite word?
Question number two, what is your least favorite word?
Question number three, what are you most excited about?
I’m very excited about the new marketing products we’re embedding in our proprietary software. We’re going to roll them out probably beginning of 2022. There’s a lot of work involved but I’m super excited about that. It’s going to be a game-changer for us and also position us as real innovators in the digital marketing space.
Question number four, what turns you off?
I have a lot of pet peeves. It’s something in digital marketing with all of these shiny new objects and people are like, “We got to do this and that,” without thinking through what’s going to work, why it’s going to work and all of that. That’s one of my big pet peeves.
A lot of people hide behind their corporate identity. They don’t realize that success depends on their ability to communicate.
Question number five, what sound or noise do you love?
My kids laughing.
Number six, what sound or noise do you hate?
My kids crying.
Question number seven and you may plead the fifth amendment, what is your favorite curse word?
It’s not safe for work. Being French where our curse words don’t have the same impact as English curse words. It starts with an F, it ends with a K. I’ve been told that I’m using it a little bit too much.
Question number eight, what profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I can’t do it. I’m going to be too old. My dream was to be a Formula 1 driver. If I had to try something, I would probably try to be a lawyer.
Question number nine, what profession would you not like to attempt?
Anything having to do with plumbing.
We have a plumber in the house with a snake and a camera trying to unblock something that shouldn’t be blocked.
That’s the only thing I don’t do by myself. What I don’t try to tackle by myself in my house is plumbing.
My final question, JP, is if heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
You’re a good man.
JP, it’s been such a pleasure having you on. Tell me how can people find out more about what you’re up to, about you, boomtime and all this great advice that you can give to people.
We are big on education at boomtime. That’s one of our core values. We educate, not only people within the company but also our clients or even people who are not going to be our clients. We love to educate them because the digital marketing world is critical. We have a lot of content on our website. We have the equivalent of several books’ worth of content on our website, podcasts, videos and things like that. It’s boomtime.com. As for myself, the best way to find me is on LinkedIn. It’s LinkedIn.com/in/JPClement.
Thank you for all of the advice and insight that you’ve given us. I’m very much looking forward to staying in touch and getting stuck into all of that information on your website.
- LinkedIn – boomtime Digital Marketing Solutions
- TED Talk – How great leaders inspire action
About JP Clement
I have over 30 years of experience in marketing and marketing-related functions such as product management and business development but my focus in the past several years has been in the go-to-market strategy and digital marketing world with an emphasis on startups, social media marketing, strategy and analytics.
My foundation is in classic packaged goods marketing/branding and direct marketing but I entered the world of online marketing in 1998 at Ticketmaster Online CitySearch and have not strayed far since. I also have significant experience in general management (acting CEO/COO) and have supervised teams as large as over 30 people.
My goals are simple: keep learning, keep challenging myself, keep the highest degree of ethics and transparency, keep contributing to the companies I work with and growing the ones I own.