The Cynical Customers: How to Market to Marketers in 2021-2022

Marketers can be a tough market to crack. We are cynical, have seen it all before, have famously short attention spans, and aren’t easily fooled. But marketing to marketers can be a worthwhile, even delightful, endeavor. Here are three things to keep in mind and some examples of companies knocking it out of the park this year.

Prove that you understand marketers

Us marketers are a rare breed, and we have unique needs … or so goes the theory. Are we special? Do we have unique needs? Probably not, but we really like to think we do, so humor us. We need to feel like you understand our motivations and pain points, which surely you’re more qualified than most to figure out since you’re a marketer yourself!

A great example of this is Hubspot.

Not only do the folks there give away a workable product for free and have some killer apps you can buy into, but their free educational offerings are top-notch. They produce a prodigious amount of content – about their product, of course, but also about marketing, sales, CRM best practices, and digital transformation. They are my go-to resource for solid, up-to-date information about my work.

Lean into the cynicism of marketers

A few years ago, my agency No Pants Consulting had a tagline with a minor curse in it. We promised content marketing that was “smarter, stronger, and less bloody boring.” When I moved the business to the US, I agonized whether it would offend my new American audience.

I confided in a friend who asked me: Do you want to work with clients offended by minor swear words? She was right. The No Pants brand cut right through the bullshit – that was a feature, not a bug, for our key audience of marketing directors. So, now I lean into it.

A great example of this is Adweak, a creative studio that started as a Twitter account. No, you didn’t read that wrong; the agency began as Paul Taylor’s sarcastic tweets blowing off steam about his frustrations as a creative director. It was only after it became popular that the agency was launched.

Adweak’s brand, made in Taylor’s image, is cutting, irreverent, and pulls zero punches as it lampoons the ego, buffoonery, profligate waste, and skullduggery of creative agency life. “BREAKING: New Linkedin Connection Thinks You Have Time To Click Link To Put Yourself On His Calendar For A Call,” the faux headline reads.

We laugh because it’s true. Taylor and the agency have an abrasive style, for sure, but for brands who want a playful, creative team that gets attention, this is a genius way to sell their ideas.

Show me the money

People who sell to marketers often lament that marketing doesn’t work on us. What they mean is that bad marketing doesn’t work, which is largely true. We know all the tricks, so don’t try to hook us with weasel words and red herrings. However, we need products and services just like everybody else – the trick is to level with us.

What we need to see is a clear picture of how your offer will help our bottom line: Made dollars, saved dollars, or saved time. We are extremely receptive to messages that clearly outline how your app will make our lives a billion times better. does this masterfully in its marketing, which is fun and engaging but never takes long to get to its offer: This tool will energize, standardize, and optimize your sales process. Its success is no mean feat when you consider that the sales industry has been notoriously slow to digitize.

And it’s because it doesn’t hide its offer. Everywhere in Gong’s marketing is the message: This will make you money, save you money, and save you time. Extra points for what might be the best opening bot interaction in all of SaaS – see it on their website.