Today’s guest has a storied background that includes roles in SEO, Sales, Marketing, AND running entire companies (aka being a CEO).

Meet Paxton Gray, the CEO of 97th Floor, a digital Marketing agency working with brands like the Utah Jazz, Dell, and Nu Skin.

I was STOKED to have Paxton on The Marketing Millennials Podcast so I could ask him all of the juicy Marketing questions you want the inside scoop on.

Sooooo here’s what he had to say in his own liiiiightly edited words.

1. Great Marketing has these 3 elements:

“Marketing must be profitable, innovative, and empathetic. (You can say that AGAIN.)

A great Marketing campaign begins with developing unmatched empathy for your audience, understanding who they are beyond just being potential buyers of your product.

In Marketing we love to look at them as targets and use psychographics, but it’s all in the context of how they relate to us and how they relate to our product as buyers. Go deeper and broader.

When you do, you start to find patterns as you research and those patterns allow you to innovate. 

Innovating doesn’t necessarily mean big and sexy campaigns. It can mean that, but what it truly means is something new, something your audience hasn’t seen or experienced before. 

(That can be borrowed from other industries. Some of my best inspo comes from other unrelated industries to B2B.)

In B2B we get very focused on best practices and what everybody else is doing, but if you’re doing best practices, you can’t hope to be anything more than mediocre. SO INNOVATE.

Then this should all be in the name of profitability.

Marketers often lose sight of the fact that our goal is to generate revenue at the end of the day. If we’re not generating revenue, we’re not being successful. 

On the traditional advertising side, it’s easy to get lost in creating art or influencing culture (which are both hard things to do), but at the end of the day if it influences culture, but doesn’t generate a profit, that’s not great Marketing. 

And so having that as our focus for everything that we do is key to great Marketing. 

2. This will refine your campaigns:

Envision a football field…On one end of that field you have vanity metrics, things that feel good and sometimes we hide behind (likes on social).

Level up your marketing game

Zero BS. Just fun, unfiltered, industry insights with the game-changers behind some of the coolest companies from around the globe.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No spam. Unsubscribe any time.

On the other end you have profit. It’s not revenue, we know the cost of goods sold (COGS), we know what kind of profit we’re turning and the goal is to get to the end zone, (get to profit). 

As an agency, sometimes you can’t get all the way to profit because, you’re not privy to what the COGS are, or their margins, but your goal is to take the ball and run it as far down the field as you possibly can.

When you do that, it gives direction to everything that you’re doing. 

There are 100 different ways to execute a social campaign, but if you have the focus of generating long term profit for your brand, then there are very few ways to do that (constriction breeds creativity Marketing bestie!!). 

So it provides REALLY good direction for us to execute. 

This also allows for better buy-in from the executive team, if you can go to executives and say “I want to generate this profit. I know COGS, I know that I need to generate $200,000 of revenue in order to generate $50,000 of profit. So give me $30,000 and I can produce those results.”

That will be music to their ears, especially right now when every dollar is being watched closely. 

That doesn’t mean that’s the only thing you need to focus on, but every person involved with the campaign (even the intern) needs to understand what the goal is and that goal has to be profit.

If you don’t do that, then it can be so easy for us to get lost in the weeds of tactics, getting distracted by shiny things, to feel proud about results that aren’t profit, when all that matters at the end of the day is producing profit for the organization. 

3. Marketers should do this, NOT sales:

Our brains can identify patterns by kindergarten, that’s what we’re graded on.

Pattern recognition is built into use from a young age, but you can’t find patterns unless you’re given loads of information. 

David Ogilvy (my absolute FAV) has a great quote where he says, “Great ideas come from the unconscious, but your unconscious has to be well informed. So stuff your unconscious mind with information and then unhook your rational thought process.” 

In other words, stuff your brain with info and then your brain will chew on it, find patterns, make connections, that’s where all your aha moments and cool ideas happen.

They feel like they just come out of nowhere, but really they came because you stuffed your brain with information. 

So it’s important to look at information with no goal in mind. And there are tons of ways to do that. 

Every single conference that you sponsor, it shouldn’t be the sales team at the booth, it should be the Marketing team (ouuuu I love this), because there’s no better way to understand who your target audience is than to talk to those people over and over again for 2 or 3 days straight.

Also conducting phone interviews with customers, potential customers, consumers that didn’t end up buying are a great way to stack your Marketing team with the right info to create AHA moments.

4. Innovation in Marketing:

The trick to innovation from what I’ve seen is if you do enough research, innovative ideas will be obvious to you.

With innovation and genius ideas we just see the end result, we see the genius idea, but if we had seen the same data they saw, or the same information they gathered, the genius idea isn’t that genius. It’s obvious what you should do next. 

Great Marketing is agnostic of discipline or channel, none of that matters to your audience. What matters to them is, do you understand them? Is this a brand that they want to affiliate with? 

(That’s the empathy part which then leads to innovation.)

5. Why Marketers are underrepresented on boards:

A funny Marketing hill that I will die on is that everyone who uses the acronym CTAs is using the phrase entirely wrong. 

It’s calls to action, but so many people say CTAs or in other words call to actions. It drives me nuts LOL. (This one SENT me 🤣.)

But a more serious one is that Marketers should stop focusing so much on tactics and siloing themselves into certain channels. 

It’s a great way to start your career to learn SEO or advertising, but you shouldn’t stop there. Keep adding new skills to your toolkit, learning about other channels, and studying different Marketing strategies. 

Even if you focus on one single channel, just knowing how the others work allows you to become better at your channel.

You can understand certain data sets that maybe other Marketers have access to that you don’t that may help you perform better.

It’s the skill curve, it’s very difficult at the beginning, we learn and then we get comfortable. That’s where we get stuck. (We DON’T want that.)

One more Marketing hill that I’ll die on is Marketers need to develop business acumen. We are the most underrepresented skill set on boards.

Less than 2% of boards at companies are composed of people that have a Marketing background. That’s because we generally as a group have underdeveloped business acumen compared to people in finance, who are in my opinion, overrepresented on boards.

We can become more powerful as Marketers, more effective and influential if we simply develop our business acumen. (YES.)”

Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
Level up your marketing game

Zero BS. Just fun, unfiltered, industry insights with the game-changers behind some of the coolest companies from around the globe.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No spam. Unsubscribe any time.