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The Art of Connection: Evan Patterson Insights into Effective Marketing

Kerry Guard • Tuesday, December 19, 2023 • 62 minutes to listen

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Evan Patterson

Evan is a creative, outcome-oriented business development, partnerships, and community marketing professional with a love of all things SaaS and startups.


Welcome to "Tea Time with Tech Marketers," where we delve into the dynamic world of tech marketing with industry leaders.

In this episode, our host Kerry Guard welcomes Evan Patterson, Marketing Consultant at Inclusive Agile. Evan, known for his creative and results-driven approach to business development, partnerships, and community marketing, brings his passion for innovation and a forward-thinking mindset to the table. With a deep-seated love for collaboration and a keen interest in listening to the stories of others, Evan embodies the spirit of entrepreneurial innovation. His approach is not just about pushing boundaries; it's about discovering new possibilities through his innovative, resourceful strategies.


Kerry Guard [00:00:16]:

Evan, so good to see you. Thank you for joining me on tea time with tech marketing leaders. We are here live and if you're here with us, let's hang out and comment.

Evan Patterson [00:00:26]:

Hey, everybody.

Kerry Guard [00:00:27]:

See you. We can't see you unless you engage, so we're here for it. I mean, that's the, I'm like with the person who does these. I feel a little inferior here because you do these ways more than I do, Evan. And I'm so excited that you're here because you're going to show me up. It's going to be great. But if you are here and you're active, get into those comments. Say hello, Trevor.

Kerry Guard [00:00:54]:

I know you're listening. Get in there, man. I am so excited for this conversation. This is tea time with tech marketing leaders. We are, like I mentioned, live, we got Evan Patterson, CI oh, Clark Baron. Let's. Yes. I am so excited for this conversation.

Kerry Guard [00:01:15]:

We will try to do our best to stay in conversation. We'll try. The struggle will be real, but we will do our best. I am so excited about this conversation because I love talking to marketers.

Evan Patterson [00:01:33]:


Kerry Guard [00:01:33]:

Know how to talk to tough audiences and is there none tougher than ourselves as marketers? So we're going to unpack Evan's playbook, as he has done this time and time again. A little about Evan. If you are not familiar, which I think we all are, we should be. If you're not, you're in for a treat, y'all. Evan Patterson is the Joan Rivers of marketing, CEO, and founder of his own consulting, where he loves to push the limits and work with a forward-thinking mindset. With him discovered what can be done thanks to his innovative, resourceful, entrepreneurial mindset combined with his love of collaboration, hearing other stories, and a less for laughter. He currently works with the startups such as Work Life, Comsor Aware, and Inclusive, agile, just to name a few.

Kerry Guard [00:02:24]:

Quite a career there, Evan. So far.

Evan Patterson [00:02:26]:

So far. Well, thank you so much. Yeah, it's a long, varied career of lots of different logos and jobs and professions, but marketers are still tough. A lot of it.

Kerry Guard [00:02:42]:

A little bit. I mean, I feel like if we can market to ourselves, we can market to anyone.

Evan Patterson [00:02:50]:

Well, truly, because you're marketing to the ICP that wrote the playbook that you're mean, they can see right through it all.

Kerry Guard [00:03:01]:

Well, that's the struggle, right? Like, we get those cold emails, we're like, even though this is written well, I still feel like I'm not allowed to appreciate it because I understand the.

Evan Patterson [00:03:11]:

Underlying what's being done. Yeah, well, I don't know if a lot of marketers, I think forget that we're not the norm, because when we see an ad on TV, we see a brand placement in a movie or a music video. Our brains pick up on those ads in a very different way. We're still susceptible to the ad the way that the average consumer is. But at the same time, even if we have no interest in buying the product, even if we already own the product, it does not matter. A part of our brain is judging and evaluating the advertisement and or the campaign or the branding of what's being presented to us, and we're not even paying attention to what's actually being presented. We're just like, that's an interesting way to do that ad. I like what they did with the font choices.

Evan Patterson [00:04:02]:

Oh, I see what they're doing here. Oh, I know why they put her on this billboard and not that other person that they used to even. What were they selling? I couldn't tell you. I was too focused on why.

Kerry Guard [00:04:16]:

I lived in New York for a few years, and I took the train to work, and there was this American apparel ad that just pissed me off to no end. And so I just refused to ever buy American apparel and just judge the brand on that one because my advertising brain was like, how do you think that works? And it's good.

Evan Patterson [00:04:39]:

It's not even an egregious thing. It's not even like the ad was problematic. It's like, I hate the font.

Kerry Guard [00:04:48]:

It was a photograph. Yeah, no, I went to school for photography, so I completely judged the photography, and I was like, no.

Evan Patterson [00:04:57]:

Mine would be like God, I hate that font. Because from afar, it's not that easy to read. And this is on a billboard. It's meant to be read from afar. So that's a terrible billboard. I'm like, I couldn't even tell you what the billboard is about. I'm too focused on the fact that the billboard sucks. And it's not offensive, it's not bigoted, it's not discriminatory.

Evan Patterson [00:05:13]:

But I'm like, well, their billboard sucks, so I guess whatever they sell sucks too.

Kerry Guard [00:05:20]:

That's how marketers are. It is, but it's how our brains are wired. So, Evan, why don't you tell us your story? Because it's a wonderful story. It's an off-the-path story, and I think we all need to hear, you know, for everything that I said that you do now, how did you get there?

Evan Patterson [00:05:41]:

Good question. So when I was a kid, I promised this would all tie together. Make sense. It's a journey. But when I was a kid, I was very lonely, for lack of a better description. And the way that I made friends, best in, a conservative town in Michigan, as this very flamboyant, grandiose gay kid was, I made friends on the Internet. I played all these video games, these massively multiplayer online games. And when you're trying to have a birthday party with your friend who lives in Sydney, Australia, when you live in a suburb of know, like, you can't just go to.

Evan Patterson [00:06:19]:

So you. You create virtual birthday parties. Well, because they're my friends, and I wanted to have my friends have great. Like, I was using Gimpa. Net or Microsoft paint back in the day, and I was making posters that would be posted on these fan sites and forums that were about the games that we played. And I would make advertisements for the parties that were being held. And what I thought was like, oh, it was just for fun.

Evan Patterson [00:06:49]:

It was cute. My first virtual party that I held at eight years old had 500 attendees. And I kept doing these micro-events inside of video games that were not designed to hold events in. And then I started noticing more and more people were creating events. And then I started making actual money off of these things because then the brands that I started doing it for fun around like age seven or eight, and then around age 13 - 14, the publishers of these virtual worlds were starting to knock on my door, but virtually, and be like, hey, you give our players activities that go above and beyond the features of the virtual world that we have developed by adding your own features to it with these events. So I started getting paid, like, stipends and ad revenue at 1314 years old for creating fan sites and events that would take place in or adjacent to these virtual worlds. So I didn't know there was a word for this yet. I didn't know this was a profession, right? We actually thought like, oh, Evan's good with computers.

Evan Patterson [00:07:54]:

He's going to be a software engineer, which is like the furthest thing from what I ended up. I was, in my mind, I was just having fun. I thought this was more fun than the actual games. I was actually objectively terrible at playing these games, and I was better at making events in these games. And as time went on, I went to college and I read the syllabus for a marketing 101 course, and I was like, one, I already do all these things. The only difference is I didn't know that there were words for them, but.

Kerry Guard [00:08:26]:

Now there is acronyms for all the things.

Evan Patterson [00:08:29]:

Yeah. And keep the. This is the syllabus. I didn't even make it past day one. So I was reading the syllabus and then I went on LinkedIn. Before it was like the social media monster that it is now. It was just a job board site, like. Indeed.

Evan Patterson [00:08:42]:

And I was looking at the job titles that they said that this program would prepare you for. And it said that you needed a bachelor's and or a master's degree and you needed five to ten years of experience or three to five years of experience in management to get the jobs that you qualified for that this program says that you'd be qualified for. And I was like, I call BS because first of all, nobody who graduates from marketing gets a director of marketing, VP of marketing job. When you graduate with a marketing degree, you're going to get a content marketing job. You're going to get a social media management job, you're going to get a demand marketing job. You're going to get an IC entry level marketing job. You're more likely to get a marketing generalist job or an SVR job. Actually, I'm like, so all these things about strategy, why teach them to a 21 year old or a 20 year old or 19 year old who can't use those things when they graduate? Because they're not going to be creating the strategy when they get their first marketing job.

Evan Patterson [00:09:30]:

They're going to be handed a strategy to create things to plug into. Right. They're executors, they're not ideators, they're not strategists yet, which is fine. That's how you become a strategist. So I was very frustrated because I'm like, I don't want to come to college to learn something that by the time I have enough experience to do, even in the syllabus, it says marketing changes daily, so you have to constantly keep up. So you mean to tell me that by the time I graduate, this is going to be out of date? And by the time I'm qualified for the job, this is going to be out of date, which just means that you've unmarketed the marketing degree to me. So I raised my hand and asked the professor, to market this marketing course to me because right now I'm not buying. And the response, I got kicked out.

Evan Patterson [00:10:17]:

I dropped out 22 minutes into college.

Kerry Guard [00:10:20]:

He literally just is like, end the door access page. Left, off you go, basically, yeah.

Evan Patterson [00:10:26]:

And then I left.

Kerry Guard [00:10:27]:

You didn't rise to the challenge.

Evan Patterson [00:10:29]:

I got in the car and I called my mom on the car phone and you a Bluetooth and said, Mom, I'm on my way home. I'm not doing this. And so started working in nightlife and did comedy. I worked in restaurants, been a bartender, and was a corporate trader for Texas. I taught line dancing. I worked in online radio. I've been a cocktail server, I've been a bartender. I was a cocoa boy at a gay bar once.

Evan Patterson [00:10:53]:

I've been a shop server, and I've sold furniture. I've done a lot of different jobs and a lot of overlapping. Also, most of these I did like three or four at a time. And I just noticed one thing that I was really good at across all of them was I was really good at getting people to stop, pay attention, and give me a chance. I was really good at getting people to like me, for lack of a better description. And I'm like, that's just what marketing really is. I can't close a deal to save my life. That's what sales is for.

Evan Patterson [00:11:26]:

But I'm really good at getting as many swings as humanly possible, which is what a marketer is paid to create. And I was like, why am I good at this? And then I got my first tech job. And then I quickly realized, oh, I've been doing this my whole life already by accident. There's a word for this. There's a career for this. This is community marketing. I've already been doing this by accident for years. I've already been doing digital event and community marketing since I was seven.

Evan Patterson [00:11:55]:

Oh, my God. I had no idea. Yeah. So literally, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and stuff, I was just like, okay, well, what do I know how to do? How do I apply it to work? And it started working. I started getting better at work. I started making more money. I started getting more opportunities. My career started to go up.

Evan Patterson [00:12:15]:

And then when I did go to the college to get some classes on things that I needed, I took an advertising and campaign management course so I could learn how to do the project management of marketing and the budgeting behind marketing. I took a business communications course, I took a business accounting course. I took the courses that got me the skill gaps that I needed. But I wasn't enrolled in a program by any means. I was just taking the courses. And for fun, I took the lifestyle choices class because I thought it'd be funny for a gay, polyamorous man to take a lifestyle choices. So anyway, I did all these different things. Yeah.

Evan Patterson [00:12:57]:

So through trial and error, I kind of landed into this field, and people like, oh, Evan's the social selling guy. Evan's the community marketing guy. And I'm like, all right, I guess that's what I am. I guess that's what we're doing. This was never intentional, but I accidentally fell into it over the years and I was like, this all started back when I was seven or eight years old as a lonely gay boy.

Kerry Guard [00:13:16]:

My daughter wants to be all of this so bad, and unfortunately, she's not in an age where it's safe for her. But, man, I can't wait to show her this video one day and be like, this could be you, and it'll be okay, and it's going to be awesome.

Evan Patterson [00:13:34]:

Yeah. I tell all the parents out there what your kid is doing for fun might be indicative of what they're going to do for a living. And in my own, my parents were very supportive of what my hobbies were. Most kids, they would spend their allowance or their money on very different things than I spent my money on. I spent a lot on software podcasting tools. I spent it on video game subscriptions for the sole purpose of creating websites and fan sites for the game. I spent it on graphics design tools. And the list goes on.

Evan Patterson [00:14:06]:

I was a really weird kid and my parents just never questioned it. And they said they didn't know what I was going to do for a living, but they knew it would have something to do with the intersection between people and the Internet. They weren't entirely sure of where it would go. So shout out to my parents for saying, because my parents are also boomers, they had me very late. My parents had me when they were in their mid to late 30s. So they were so uninformed as to how these were even hobbies of mine, let alone potential career opportunities. So if your kids are doing something consistently and they are passionate about it, and you're like, how can you turn that into a job? I have no idea. It might just be a job that doesn't exist yet, and it probably will.

Kerry Guard [00:14:52]:

When they're older, and that's totally okay. Yeah. Ride the wave. I'm here for it. I love this journey, and I love starting the show off of how you found marketing, or marketing found you, and you definitely fell into it. And at such a young age, I kind of did something similar with photography, where I just love taking photographs. And then I realized that all the brochures and the magazines and things I was looking at from such a young age was like, photographers doing things for advertising. I was like, how do I want to do that? Please? Yeah.

Kerry Guard [00:15:32]:

Can you tell us what you're exactly doing now, what your consulting firm does, and tie it off with a bow for us in terms of what a challenge you're currently facing or what's hard right now?

Evan Patterson [00:15:45]:

Yeah, great question. So I'm a one man shop for the most part. I like it that way. So I'm not trying to scale and own a team and all that, but I do a lot of different various things of marketing for my clients. Some of them I'm just a consultant teaching them how to do certain marketing strategies from a theory level, from a high level, and how to execute it themselves. Usually, that's from a brand perspective, a content marketing perspective, or personal branding. And I typically work with series B or earlier for talking about VC backed, but I do also work with some bootstrapped companies as well. And then beyond that, I do fractional work.

Evan Patterson [00:16:31]:

So I do a lot of content marketing. All the things I just mentioned, are community, social media management, personal branding, and coaching. But I'm hands on. I'm not just teaching, I'm doing, I'm training. I'm holding the hands of the individuals versus just like a 1 hour session on a regular basis. I'm a part of their team part-time. Those are the two core parts of my revenue. But beyond that there's brand partnerships that make up a big chunk of my income.

Evan Patterson [00:16:57]:

There's affiliate marketing, there's one-off events, and coaching sessions that I do and always looking for more opportunities and collaborations. So hit me up.

Kerry Guard [00:17:09]:

Little shameless plug there. I'm here for it. Yes, and you work for some wonderful companies too. I follow work life pretty hard. They actually were on my show thanks to you, so I'm so grateful for that. There's some overlap here, but it does seem like there's a method to your madness, so to speak, in terms of who you like to work for. So just so that we get the right people coming to you. You said Series B, series A, but is there sort of a type of startup, a SaaS a more good, not nonprofit, but more of that work life is a great example of a company who moves good forward.

Kerry Guard [00:17:52]:

So give us.

Evan Patterson [00:17:54]:

It's less about what companies I'm willing to work for, and more about what companies I'm not interested in. I really like to work. Like I said, series B, series A, seed precede or bootstrapped any of the above. I love the reason I say that because I have no real interest in working with a Fortune 500 company. I don't do well in environments that everyone is a number and it's very a transactional sort of culture. So it's more about the culture and the size of the company. Hence why I use those terms for the stages of the business. I'm indifferent to how they actually do that.

Evan Patterson [00:18:32]:

I just more care about the vibe and the feeling of the culture at the company. So I do vet highly for it's a fun place to be, it's an innovative place to be. Creativity and authenticity is rewarded at the company. Beyond that, I love the ICPs. So I like to focus on ICPs that are sales marketing, CS, HR, people, Ops, founders, and then also ideologies. So companies that have they're trying to sell the people first ideology, or they're trying to sell more of a social media or marketing first sales approach or PLG. I care more about what's the mission behind the company, who their ICP is, the product itself, or the service that they offer is more actually icing on the cake. It's a means to get to their goal, if anything, for me.

Evan Patterson [00:19:30]:

So I usually look for the culture and what their goal is before I even learn what their actual product does or is. That's how I determine if I want to work with them. So sales tech typically fits the measure here. Martech usually rev ops tech, and HR tech work life is in this. I would say it's in the HR tech space generally, but there's a bit of a gamification element to it that you could warp into sales tech if you wanted to. Commsore is very much Martech meets sales tech inclusive. Agile is a nonprofit. So I really like working with companies that are focused on a mission to either to make a profession better or easier.

Evan Patterson [00:20:14]:

And I like it when that profession is like a people facing profession because I just tend to get along with those personalities. So sorry. To anybody who sells engineers or it or finance, it probably wouldn't work well with that company.

Kerry Guard [00:20:27]:

No, I think that's perfect because I think we sometimes get sort of caught up. It's why the B to B to B to C conversation keeps happening. Right? Like how can we as B-to-B marketers pull more from B-to-C marketers? Right. And so same with focusing on these very technical audiences. Right? So we're talking about developers, cisos, engineers. Right. Marketing to them is really tough, but we're also really hard to market to as well.

Kerry Guard [00:20:55]:

So I loved this idea of being able to pull from your expertise to get more creative, get out of our own heads and out of our own boxes. To say, well, what's working over here? We're not easy to market to. So what's working over here that could work? I like to shake it up. So I'm here for it. Before we get into it, what do you mean by saying more?

Evan Patterson [00:21:19]:

When you're marketing to marketers, you're basically marketing to people who do what you do for a living. So you actually have to step outside of yourself and look at yourself in the third party. And I think that it's a special skill for someone to be able to market to their own ICP when they are the ICP without using themselves as the sole indicator and benchmark. It's a special talent, but it's also a trap that a lot of marketers that do market to marketers fall into. Like, well, would I buy this? That's not a safe way to do marketing now, using yourself as like, well, let me see if this works. That's fine. But I think that if you're really able to think existentially about things, you're the marketer that's built to market to marketers. And I love thinking that way.

Evan Patterson [00:22:07]:

I love asking why. And then why is that the reason why? And if you're somebody who naturally does that, you'll do well in that kind of a role. Also, just like how singers are, you can be an amazing singer and be great at country and terrible at pop or vice versa. Your voice has a genre that you do best in. So I think one of the best things for marketers to do is to show is like, you can't be good at marketing anything, just the same way that you can't be a salesperson who's good at selling everything. I know salespeople that are amazing at SaaS, but if you put them into a furniture store or a car dealership, they would fail and vice versa. So same thing for marketers. You're not capable of marketing every type of product and service. So the sooner you can come to that conclusion and figure out what your ICP is, then the better you'll have a career.

Kerry Guard [00:23:00]:

Yeah, that's fascinating. Yes. I love what you're saying. And the other thing that I really latched onto when you talked about that is that you're not always, and I think we all struggle with this in multiple ways, but even though we're marketers and we think we know best, we're not the audience. So even when we're marketing to marketers how we want to be marketed to versus how others, the general public of marketers, or depending on their silos want to be marketed to is not the same. So kick this off for us, Evan. We're in the thick of it. Let's roll with it.

Kerry Guard [00:23:35]:

Kick this off for us. When we're talking about the marketing to-marketers playbook, it feels like we're on. That starts with, it starts with understanding the audience. Am I picking up on that, or am I in an echo chamber of just hearing people say that a lot?

Evan Patterson [00:23:50]:

People do say that a lot. Yes. I think it's more detailed than that. I think understanding the audience is a process. It's not a step. There's steps within the process. And the first one I always care about is, what kind of marketer are we selling to? Because marketing itself is an umbrella term. And what does that person do every day? What does their day to day job look like? And when you understand that, then figure out, okay, then where does our service or product fit into that day? Then you cross reference that with how do they currently problem solve? And people tend to go, how do they currently buy? Which is the wrong perspective.

Evan Patterson [00:24:34]:

It's how do they currently problem-solve. Because buying might not be how they problem solve. So we have to give them a reason to buy our product in their process of problem solving. So that's the next step after you figure out whether day today is like and where your tool might fit into it. Wait, let me message.

Kerry Guard [00:24:56]:

Okay, before, let's be kind. Rewind. So we always say that you need to talk to your audience. You need to understand what their day to day process is. How do you even go about, do you just pick up the phone and like, hey, marketer, what are you doing today? How do you go about understanding a marketer's day to day?

Evan Patterson [00:25:19]:

Yeah, so I'm not a demand-gen marketer. Right? So if I'm trying to sell to demand gen marketers, I go and interview or talk to all of my friends that are demand gen marketers. I also will go through the course of how to become a demand gen marketer, not just so I can understand their job and maybe do some of their job within my job, but also so I can understand why they do what they do in their job, not just how they do it and why that is the reason why, how they're measured, how their bosses measure them, how they manage up the whole nine yards, figuring out how does someone become successful at that type of marketing job. That is what I mean by that. You can take the same courses that they take, consume the same media that they consume, talk to them, ask them how their day works, ask them how they measure themselves, how they project, manage themselves or others, and manage up, manage left, down, up, right. The list goes on, how do they get that job? How do they keep that job, how do they justify that job? Right. All those factors isn't becoming obsessed with how they do their job, macro and micro level. That's what I mean by that.

Evan Patterson [00:26:28]:

So there's reports for that, there's interviews for that, and there's the courses for that. And I'm a big fan of taking an approach of all of them. The good news is once you've done it, all you have to do is just maintain the knowledge and keep it up to date. Which is why you'll see a lot of very successful marketers when they move from company to company. They move from company to company with overlapping ICPs. So they're not constantly starting from ground zero, they're starting from the 10th to the twelfth floor story building already. So you're already kind of almost there. So I'm just looking to brush up on it.

Evan Patterson [00:26:58]:

So that's the other secret sauce I think people forget. If you want a really good career, find what your ICP is. So that way when you do what I just said, it's less work and you can ramp faster and then you artificially look better at your job.

Kerry Guard [00:27:12]:

I think that's so key, even for us as a digital marketing agency. We try and focus on those tough audiences like I mentioned, because once we understand what it is that they do and their jobs on a daily basis like you're mentioning, and the challenges that they have, then it's easier to message across different platform, different companies and help that. So yes, to niching down. Yeah. Let's talk about the problem for a second because I think you mentioned Demand Gen and I'm going to have a wonderful conversation in a few months with somebody who's talking about there's many roles in marketing. They all have different challenges, just like within any organization, right? There's all these different roles. How do you discover when you.

Kerry Guard [00:27:58]:

I feel like it's hard to understand what the problem is that these folks face unless you're doing it. So it's one thing to research and understand it, but if you're not in their literal shoes doing their job and coming in contact with the challenges they have over and over and over again, how do you on the outside looking in find those?

Evan Patterson [00:28:21]:

Good question. I want, it to take time and exposure combined with being empathetic. So as woo woo and Hallmark cardia as this might sound. When I can see that my colleague or my friend that works someplace else is a demand gym marketer, and they're getting frustrated or annoyed or pissed off, the case goes on and on and on. I feel their pain. I'm very empathetic. I don't even have to try. It's kind of naturally who I am.

Evan Patterson [00:28:55]:

I can tell when someone's upset. I can read that. Even if they're like 70% happy and 30% upset, I can tell of that 30% also, actually, one of the things I just realized on my own mental health journey, I got recently diagnosed at BPD in the last month, and I found out that apparently, this ability that I have has something to do with having BPD. I can tell.

Kerry Guard [00:29:18]:

Can you just tell us what the BPD acronym means?

Evan Patterson [00:29:22]:

Yeah, borderline personality disorder. Yeah. But one of the traits, one of the positive attributes, it's also negative depending on how you use it. Look at it. Of this mental condition, I can pick up on people's moods with an increasingly higher accuracy than somebody who does not have BPD. I can read facial expressions. If somebody says they're fine and they say that they mean it, I can tell that they're lying, or I can tell that they're trying to bury something so they're not lying to manipulate their line to not want to bring it up, but I can still tell. Yeah.

Evan Patterson [00:29:53]:

So if everybody around you is 70% happy and 30% upset, people at BPD only see the 30% upset and not the 70% happy. That's the difference. So imagine going through life and I only see the negative before the positive. Right. This can be used as a good thing when you're a marketer. And I realize that by accident, I've been doing this my whole life, where when my coworker is upset regarding the tool breaking, or their boss doing x, Y, and Z, or whatever the case may be, I can tell in the shift in tone like they're not being their jovial self. Life goes on, so I stay in tune with the emotional pain that a marketer that I'm trying to market to feels like over the course of my career. And then that way, when it comes time to market to that person, I understand the anthropology and the sociology of the culture of people who have this job.

Evan Patterson [00:30:44]:

I know what their triggers are. I know what upsets them. There's a list of things that upset different professions the same way there is a list of things that upset different cultures, genders, orientations, and races. The list goes on. So if you look at profession as an identity, the same way that you look at race, gender orientation list goes on. You can look at it from an anthropological and sociological perspective, which allows you to better solve for these problems that you yourself have not had or are not capable of having in the same way.

Kerry Guard [00:31:13]:

So for marketers, then, what are sort of some of those triggers that you mentioned that really, I'm probably going to identify with all of them. It's going to be great.

Evan Patterson [00:31:24]:

Yeah, marketers, what are some of those?

Kerry Guard [00:31:26]:

Triggers you've identified through this career of listening for those moments?

Evan Patterson [00:31:32]:

Yeah. Stifled creativity, I've noticed, really bothers marketers, because we're supposed to be the weird team. We're supposed to be that weird lunch table that everybody goes yikes at. We're supposed to be that. That's the point. We're supposed to be sitting there on beanbags drinking kombucha, which I hate, even, but we're going to drink it because it's pretentious, and that's what marketers do. And then we're supposed to be sitting there in our boho cotton knit sweaters looking ridiculous, like we're an anthropology ad on beanbags, coming up with ideas and stupid, silly campaign ideas. We're supposed to be ideating and R and D, 60% to 75% of the time, and then the rest of it's supposed to be the execution and reporting.

Evan Patterson [00:32:12]:

However, it's flipped. We're spending the majority of our time justifying everything that we're doing, and that is extremely demoralizing and upsetting to marketers. I don't care if you're IC or a VP who's doing this for 20 years, it's soul-crushing. And you can tell people are like, well, that's who comes to the job. And as true as that may be, you can tell. It's like we're artists who do art to the lens of capitalism and profitability. That's what a marketer is doing. We are a painter, we are a writer, we are a performer, but through the lens of creating capital.

Evan Patterson [00:32:46]:

And that's what separates us from an artist who is just an artist and equally valid, and they're doing marketing to market themselves, which is why a lot of marketers are really good at personal branding, because it's that same skill set. But when we have to report it to somebody else who doesn't do what we do for a living, that's when the friction comes in and that soul crushing and demoralizing feeling comes in. I would say it's usually unintentional by leadership, because leadership, they typically haven't done the job that's on the receiving end of this. So it's a lot of like, well, why does that matter? They have to explain that to demanders all the time. No matter how many times they explain it, it never sticks. So I can tell that that pisses off marketers quite a bit. So anything that helps them report things, justify things, anything that helps them cut a corner in terms of time saving because they can't get rid of the justification part of their job, so they have to cut corners elsewhere. Right.

Evan Patterson [00:33:43]:

That creates more freedom and more time and energy in their day and their mind to be able to do the woo woo things we just talked about that we know are necessary for great marketing. So those, I notice, are very common triggers for marketers, regardless of their demand, gen, or community. They just tend to present themselves differently.

Kerry Guard [00:34:00]:

Oh, my God, there's so much truth in all of that. It is like trying to always help our clients on my side as an agency, trying to always think about how to help our clients justify the great work my team does. That is probably 10% to 20% of what we do is just to make sure we arm our clients with saying, you made the right decision, you chose us, and here's all the great things we're doing. And here how panning out and here's that is like, a bulk of the work. It's true. And, man, you see, cut right through to the noise there, Evan.

Evan Patterson [00:34:41]:

For the marketers that want to get better at this, it's going to sound so silly, but I learned a lot of this by going to therapy. So I think people don't forget that everything we do in life is a relationship, right? With our bosses, of our coworkers, of our customers, right? So I'm a polyamorous man. I have four partners. And when you're polyamorous, you get a lot of practice of dating. You get a lot of practice of relationship management, right? And even if you have more than one friend, same thing, right? We all have more than one friend. You're balancing multiple relationships. At the end of the day, romantic or not, same thing.

Evan Patterson [00:35:13]:

And so what I've learned was like, okay, well, in a relationship, when you talk about how rough your day is, you're making what a therapist calls a bid, right? A bid for connection. You are looking to receive some sort of validation or reassurance or the case, you're bidding for something, right? You're doing the same thing every time you interact with anybody at work, just with a different outcome in mind. It's with professional outcomes, whether that's validation that you're doing a good job or validation that what you did created revenue. Regardless, you're making a bid for something every time you do something. So understanding how people work emotionally in relationship management, in their romantic and personalized, both with others around them and themselves, you can literally copy and paste that logic. And that's how marketers, that's how everyone functions in the workplace subconsciously. So therefore, if you understand how people interact with each other, and then you add on your knowledge of how their profession functions, you now understand that in person's entire personality and way of thinking without ever actually doing their job. And the fact that I've done their job just makes it easier.

Kerry Guard [00:36:21]:

Yes. No, totally. You make it sound so easy. And it definitely takes some practice and curiosity and the right questions of trying to empathize with them in a way that's truly authentic of like, I really just want to understand what it is you're going through and what's hard for you right now and how I can hopefully help you make it easier at the end of the day. So let's move on to that easier piece. We've understood who our audience is. We understand what they do on a daily basis. We understand what gets in their way and makes their job harder, which you just laid out for us perfectly.

Kerry Guard [00:36:52]:

So thank you for that. So let's talk about that. I think you mentioned messaging is next. And it's more than messaging. It's more of that connection piece of how you so walk us through that element.

Evan Patterson [00:37:09]:

Well, people want to feel heard. They want to feel understood. They want to feel validated. Nobody wants to be sold to. Everybody loves to buy. Right? Just think of it like when you're in a relationship and you're having a bad day, and your partner is giving you unsolicited advice and you're getting frustrated and annoyed, that's your partner selling something to you. Right. And while you appreciate and understand that they're trying to help, that's not exactly what you're looking for at that moment, hopefully.

Evan Patterson [00:37:40]:

Right? Yeah. And it's a common trap that people fall into relationships. Now. There does come a time where push comes to shove, where it's like, you may not want advice right now, but I can tell you need it whether or not you want it. That's fine, too. Apply that logic to marketing. So when I come up with messaging, I'm always trying to demonstrate that this problem you're having is real. You're not having impostor syndrome, which marketers are notorious for dealing with, because a lot of our job is very hard to measure and we're constantly under a magnifying glass of justifying what we're doing for a living.

Evan Patterson [00:38:14]:

We don't have the luxury of a sales rep of like, whether you hit quota or not, it's not that black and white. And then beyond that, so you're validating them, you're assuring them, and then you're also in the process going to use messaging that demonstrates that your credibility and understanding of it. And then that's when you propose the solution. So I always think of it in those three parts of like, how do I let this person know their problem is seen and heard? Whether or not they themselves have seen it or heard it, we can tell that the problem is their girl and it's real. The struggle is real, right? But it doesn't have to be a struggle, or it doesn't have to be as much of a struggle because we've created this, and this is why we created this with the why. Tying back to that first point of the struggle is real.

Kerry Guard [00:39:07]:

Let's sit with the credibility for a second, though, because I feel like we don't always all do a very good job of this in any. Whether we're marketing to marketers or trying to market a SaaS or as a vendor marketing to a CISO. Right. We tend to jump right to the features of things versus the credibility. I don't hear that word often. So can you share what credibility means to you when you're talking to this audience and what they would care about?

Evan Patterson [00:39:37]:

Yeah, good question. So personal branding helps build credibility because we all trust people that are trusted by other people, even if we don't know the people that trust them. Cubans are social creatures. We have to remember the DNA of who we are as people, right? So we are programmed to trust people that are well liked by other people. That's why when a celebrity goes viral, it's why it's called going viral because the trust and the infatuation with said a person is contagious. It's a part of our DNA as an animal. So what I'm looking for is marrying whatever outcomes I'm doing with a strong brand awareness or a strong brand presence. And strong doesn't have to mean big or casting a wide net.

Evan Patterson [00:40:23]:

It just means for those that are aware, they're very aware. That's the thing that think that people forget is you have people that are of top of mind and you have people that have never heard of you. And when you're starting to build brand awareness, because they typically work with earlier stage companies, I'm not looking for people like, oh, yeah, I've heard of them before. I'm looking for people that are fans of us. There's a big difference between someone who's aware that you exist and someone who's a fan of you. Right? So I always look to create hyper niche organic plays that cultivate a culture or attract a culture to rally around this one point. So think of it like in the non-SaaS marketing world. I'll use the gay world, for example, as a gay man.

Evan Patterson [00:41:10]:

There are brands that market to specifically gay men. They're not creating a culture. They're selling something to an audience that they already want and appeal to. They're just speaking their language. They're just showing them like, hey, we get you, we know you. We walk the walk just as much as we talk the talk. We are a part of your community already. Right? So that's how I approach B-to-B marketing.

Evan Patterson [00:41:34]:

Instead of selling a company making gay men oriented clothing for gay men, I'm a company making marketing tools for marketers. So I am going to join them at the lunch table versus get them to come to my lunch table. That's how I approach that credibility piece is like, I'm showing you that I know you. I'm showing you with the way that I am functioning, walking, and talking, that I don't just understand what you're saying from a logical perspective. I can see how this is painful and I can see why this is something that you and your coworkers and colleagues might commiserate about, for lack of a better description, and also therefore co celebrate when you use this as your solution.

Kerry Guard [00:42:14]:

Great word. I'm going to jump a little ahead because I love what you're saying around creating more of that niche audience, speaking their language, connecting with them, and building through that. I wonder how that matches with going back to the hardcore challenge of being a marketer, of needing to show the numbers and show that we're performing. And a lot of that comes with volume.

Evan Patterson [00:42:44]:


Kerry Guard [00:42:46]:

So how are you helping marketers sort of tell that story of not focusing on the impression of it all, but like the. I feel like I'm jumping conclusions thoughtfully, but like, going from the impression to the engagement. Right.

Evan Patterson [00:43:04]:

That really comes down to stockpiling the anecdotal evidence. That's really what it is. Yeah.

Kerry Guard [00:43:12]:

That's fantastic.

Evan Patterson [00:43:14]:

Yeah. Every time you get somebody that raves about you take a screenshot or write it down, record that call, because you can't just look at the back end of LinkedIn and go, okay, our impressions are up 10%, and our engagement is up 29%. It's like, yeah, but our engagement is up 29% with people that came back for more. Like, half of that 29% boost is return visitors, and half of that half shared it or posted about us elsewhere or brought us up to somebody else. Right. I'm looking for those things that aren't as easily measurable. This is where the dark social comes into play. So a community marketer can very easily look like they're not doing anything at all at work because we're spending 90% of our time.

Evan Patterson [00:44:03]:

A dramatic exaggeration, but we're spending a lot of our day just scrolling through the feeds and the notifications of all the different places that the brain lists and just seeing how people interact with us, with us being there or not. There's social listening tools at the watazoo that help us fill the gaps of these things, but we're doing a lot of things. We're just kind of taking a pulse check. So theme parks do this already where they pay people to literally go to the park and go ride the rides and do all the things they're supposed to be doing like a normal guest and enjoy themselves while just taking note of how the people around them are interacting with the park. And this is in addition to mass surveys, reporting cameras, any data tracking of people using the fast lane passes, and stuff like that. Right. And then what you do is you marry the anecdotal with the statistical, and then that's how you create hunches that lead to experiments from hypotheses, and then you can create more informed experiments, and then over time, you figure out what's working, what's not working. That's what community marketers are doing all day, every day, is trying to.

Evan Patterson [00:45:13]:

You give us 100 stones, a demand gem marketer is like, well, I know I need to turn over these 50 stones to then do what's underneath them. A community marketer turns over all 100. Like, I'll determine which stones need to be turned over by everybody else before everybody else even gets the chance to look at these stones. I sit before them in the funnel. I'm in front of the front line. I'm the watchtower. So it's the secret shopper of SaaS. But instead of going through the buying motions, I'm going to go out into the field and see how people are doing these things, not to be confused of a field marketer.

Evan Patterson [00:45:46]:

This is more like espionage.

Kerry Guard [00:45:51]:

You're the CIA of the marketing department. No, but I think that's important because as we get that anecdotal evidence, we need to not brush it off and just think it's not important because it's one person. Right. But it's like when you start collecting that and building that up to then validate what it is you're doing or what more it is you need to be doing in things that are working. I think we're always looking for the quantitative versus the qualitative. And I think this is a good moment to pause and be like, there's joy in the qualitative, especially if you can build that up. Testimonials are one of the hardest things to cultivate. And I love the way you're saying this, of finding it in a place, of going out and experiencing it versus being, hey, can you give me a.

Kerry Guard [00:46:54]:

Yeah, can you give me a testimonial?

Evan Patterson [00:46:56]:

I mean, this is how you get the people that you could call to say, can you give me a testimonial? All because this is also something that, if you want a digestible way to practice doing community marketing, try to run a UGC campaign or a user-generated content campaign. That's a really good way to practice this skill. The reason I bring this up is because you're just looking for the pulse of the community. So it's not even just people looking at how they talk about your brand. Like, work life is still a relatively young brand, a little over 1000 followers. So I can quickly look at how many people I mentioned to work life in about 1015 minutes. Right? There's not a ton of people on the planet yet you have heard of us. So I'm not just looking for people who are talking about work life.

Evan Patterson [00:47:41]:

I'm looking for people who are talking about our competitors. I'm looking at people who are talking about the problems that we solve or the problems that they're dealing with. I'm looking at what kind of people give a shit about work life, even if they don't even know we exist yet. And how do they talk about their shit that they give? I'm looking for the language that they're speaking, where they're speaking it, how they're speaking it. You marry that once again with the data. Right. So it goes beyond just the testimonials is one great angle at it, but it goes beyond that. It's like, I want to see how they walk it's what Target did a poor job of when they moved to Canada.

Evan Patterson [00:48:21]:

They did no research on how Canadians shop by and interactive retail. They're just, oh, they're North USA. They're just the United States of America. But know that's not correct at all. So it's the same thing. If I'm going to understand how to sell to people that would buy work life, I need to do an immersion course of their culture and their world.

Kerry Guard [00:48:44]:

I could talk about this all day because I think data is so important, but what data we're looking at. And I think this is where marketers and leadership sort of clash really hard. Right? Because leadership, absolutely. We just dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars on social media and dark social and building a community, but we're not seeing any revenue from that. It's not going to be join a community, interact with it, and then buy. There are all these steps in between that need to happen. And then paid search is going to get SEO, are going to sweep up all of the findings. Right.

Kerry Guard [00:49:22]:

Can we acknowledge that there's more to it than just one equals revenue, please?

Evan Patterson [00:49:31]:

Well, yeah, there's a lot of gray that people forget. It's like a billboard. Like, if I put a billboard up, all I know is how many cars go by on a billboard. That's all they know. We know the average number of people in a car. We have data on that in the world, and we have the average number of people that drive past the search for landmarks. Great. That's all we have.

Evan Patterson [00:49:53]:

So all I know is that when I put the billboard up, our email marketing campaign performs better. And when I take the billboard down, our email marketing campaign does not work as well. Do I know why or how? No, I just know that when the billboard's up, this happens, and then maybe I keep the billboard up and I just change the color of it, and that stops doing so well. So maybe it was the way the billboard worked. Right, so community marketing is just a lot of pulling levers to see what sticks and then deducing patterns from that and making more informed decisions based on that. And instead of using just numbers, we're using qualitative metrics in addition to, not in lieu of numbers. And I think that's what scares people that have more numbers driven roles, is we are marrying anthropology, sociology, and psychology with mathematics and forecasting and traditional marketing. And that is traditionally terrifying, I think, to a lot of people, because the tools are built for, to your point, volume, quantity, data, spreadsheets, scalability, and not everything that is necessary to scale.

Evan Patterson [00:51:08]:

A business is inherently scalable in itself, and also, not everything should be scalable. That's the other thing, too. It's why I kind of have a bit of a gripe with ATS readers because I'm just like, I understand you're getting 1000 applicants because you're a Fortune 500 company, and maybe only 20 of them are even partially qualified. So you don't want a human being to come through 980 applications that you know aren't going to be useful. I understand that. But at the same time, what says 980 applicants aren't qualified for a different role at your company? And so if somebody's not combing through them to see if they potentially fit something else, or maybe there's a tool out there, I don't know. I don't make recruiter technology that will help cross reference that with other applications. Yeah, sure, it might not be scalable, but it's got an ROI.

Evan Patterson [00:51:55]:

And isn't that what matters?

Kerry Guard [00:51:57]:

Yes, I do think we're all. It's really tricky marrying the scalability of things with the ROI of things. And sometimes shit's just manual. There's benefits.

Evan Patterson [00:52:12]:

Have the luxury of all this software. I found out, obviously, I've never worked in a job in tech where I didn't have the luxury of like, slacker teams or Skype or something like that. Right? But I know that before I was old enough to work in this industry, there was like, you went to somebody who, you told them what you wanted them to write on a memo. They wrote up the memo, you got the proofread it, then they sent it back to this internal mailbox where some secretary put it in the mailbox for your boss, who's an assistant, took it out of their mailbox, then filtered through everything and then put. It took five to seven business days to get a simple question answered by your boss back in the day. So I wasn't alive for that. Okay, but did it work? It must have because there was business, right? So I'm sure one day a lot of the things I'm talking about will get turned into something automated and tech enabled and fancy. But I think we've just gotten really lazy as a society where it's like, well, if I can't put a flashy tool on it, then I guess it's not worthy for my business.

Evan Patterson [00:53:17]:

I'm like, sometimes in the pavement is the good thing to do still. And what's the difference between me scrolling through a social media feed looking for how people talk about things, then somebody standing on the side of the street, raising money for a nonprofit. It's the exact same strategy. It's not scalable at all, but it works. And that's why people still do it.

Kerry Guard [00:53:37]:

Because you still need the human. It's that human element that's just so hard. Even AI. We're all talking about AI, AI, AI. Yes. However, it still cannot replace the humanity of it all. And I feel like that's a lot of what you're saying.

Evan Patterson [00:53:56]:

Yeah. Human beings still need human interaction. And if anything, with COVID and everything going digital, Internet, a solid human interaction is so much more meaningful than it ever has been. People are buying greeting cards again. People are doing less virtual things and more in-person things again. You thought millennials spent their money on experiences before COVID Look at us now, right? Like we care way more about meaningful human connections. But for some reason, this has worked in our consumeristic life, and B to C has figured it out. People want to go back into stores again.

Evan Patterson [00:54:36]:

People like, I want to buy this sofa, but I don't want to buy it until I sat on it and talked to a professional. So you're seeing companies that went digital bring back brick and mortar stores. Look at Netflix. They just announced they killed blockbuster so they can rope in their own blockbuster stores. So it's literally like a murderer wearing the victim's body as a costume. We're all going back to the 1950s. Sephora just opened up a location in my neighborhood, and I don't even live near a shopping area. Everything's moving to where the residents live.

Evan Patterson [00:55:09]:

Right? So same thing in B to B. If you can create a human connection. Again, that's not scalable, but it goes a long way because people remember that interaction with that person more than they'll even remember your product. But your product will be seen as even better than it actually is because of the enhanced interaction. Which is why I tell people, you do need to hire for personality. You do need to hire for likability. You can teach skills, but if someone's rude, boring, not innovative, quiet, reserved, good luck. I don't care how good they are at their job.

Evan Patterson [00:55:45]:

They need to be intriguing and likable and magnetic. Otherwise, all their skills are not going to do well.

Kerry Guard [00:55:54]:

My gosh.

Evan Patterson [00:55:55]:

And I know that sounds, but I'm a big believer.

Kerry Guard [00:55:57]:

No, I think it depends on the role. And I could unpack that all day. But I do think for what you're talking about in social media, understanding your audience, getting out there and talking to people, collecting that qualitative data, all of that makes sense. I also do agree that you need to hire for value add into your organization, and skills can be taught to a degree, depending if you have the resources and systems and processes in place to actually train those people and get them up to speed, because that's a lift that you need to be prepared for. But the end of the day, it does come down to, can we all get along and can we all do great work together, and can we connect when things get hard and have those tough conversations that come out the other side? Okay. And that takes a certain personality within a certain organization and culture for all that to mesh. So I agree with what you're saying to that regard. Wound us out here, Evan, because clearly, we could go all day.

Kerry Guard [00:56:57]:

And I do want to be cognizant of our listeners and their time. And I'm so grateful for all those folks who have joined us between Clark and Jamie and Maxwell and Trevor. Peter, thank you. So, know what's sort of that last, know your audience, be able to clearly message to their problem using the credibility of your brand, get boots on the ground, understand what they're going through and what's being talked about in terms of that qualitative data, I'm sure we missed a few steps, but in the steps we missed, what's sort of the most important that maybe we need to close out with that. You shouldn't skip in the framework plan.

Evan Patterson [00:57:33]:

To get it wrong. Yeah, I think that's the thing that is not discussed enough. No matter how good you are at this, there's going to be experimentation. So you need to budget in room for error, both in the financial sense and in the time sense, and also your mental capacity. You need to get some things wrong. And I always tell people, did the campaign not work as planned and fail, or did you learn something from that campaign and what not to do again? Because the latter of the two is just as valuable as a campaign that does very well. And if your investors or stockholders or whatever kind of business model you have, if those people have a problem with that, you got dirty money in your pockets, get new money.

Kerry Guard [00:58:20]:

We get to lean in and lean forward, fail forward, all of those things. Iterate, iterate, iterate 100%. We learn from it. We get to do better next time. Totally agree. I got one last question for you, Evan, because you're more than a marketer, and you've had this wonderful, amazing career that, by happenstance. So for you, right now, in the turn of the world, between COVID and the last three years, what's new for you? Have you picked up any new hobbies? Are you traveling more? What was that shift for you on the personal side that you sort of had this ha ha moment or doing more of?

Evan Patterson [00:58:55]:

Well, this past year, I've been really focused on being very selfish the past year or so, and probably for the next year more, you've been really focused on my mental health. I've been really focused on just kind of figuring out who I am and more because like I mentioned during this interview, I recently got given a pretty hefty diagnosis that it's a scary one, but at the same time it's like, oh, thank God. I finally understand why I've been doing this for 29 years on this planet. So that's really what I've been focused on ever since COVID hit. Because not that the problems that I've been facing weren't apparent during before COVID but I hit 26 during COVID which is when your brain finally matures and I started exiting my young adult years. And I'm sorry then to my true adult years. So talk about an identity crisis. So what I've been focusing on is trying to figure out what makes me happy, what kind of career fits into my life.

Evan Patterson [01:00:02]:

Because up until the last year or so, I realized I was making my life fit into my career versus the other way around. So while most people are focusing on their business problems right now, for me, none of them are even on the top ten list of priorities at all. I was just focused on how to cultivate and create a life for me that is sustainable, that makes me happy and me fulfilled. I can worry about the business operations and scalability of that later, but right now I've got one life to live and one body to take care of. So I'm going to figure out that before I go forward.

Kerry Guard [01:00:37]:

Oh, if we all had so much sense at that age, Evan, I'm so grateful. So grateful. Thank you for joining me on the show and for opening up and being you and sharing your playbook. We have work to do, marketers. We have work to do. And I'm here for or hire me or.

Evan Patterson [01:01:00]:

New clients.

Kerry Guard [01:01:04]:

Hell yes. Absolutely. Even if we can figure out how to work together, I'm here for that as well. If you liked this episode, please like, subscribe and share. This episode was brought to you by MKG Marketing, the digital marketing agency that helps complex B two B brands get found via SGS digital ads and analytics. Assisted by me, Carrie Gardens, co-founder of MKG. And if you want to be a guest, come hang out with me. Dm me.

Kerry Guard [01:01:27]:

Let's do a show. I'm here for it. Evan. Oh, man. So good.

Evan Patterson [01:01:32]:

Thank you for having me.

This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex tech companies like cybersecurity, grow their businesses and fuel their mission through SEO, digital ads, and analytics.

Hosted by Kerry Guard, CEO co-founder MKG Marketing. Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.

If you'd like to be a guest please visit to apply.

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