This blog is a part of Brandpoint’s ongoing interview series where we talk with content marketing professionals about their career, thoughts on the industry and key advice they’ve learned along the way.
Lisa Bergerson is currently the Director of Marketing at Equals 3, a martech startup using artificial intelligence to help marketers access and organize unbelievable amounts of customer and industry insights. Lisa’s marketing career has spanned 20 years and numerous industries, everything from luxury real estate to educational nonprofits to content marketing. But she loves being back at a startup, especially one that’s revolutionizing the practice.
She gave me some advice to share with fellow content marketers, plus some pros and cons of being a one-person marketing team.
Nels: Tell me about your current role at Equals 3 and how you got connected with co-founder Scott Litman.
Lisa: I’ve known Scott and Dan (Mallin) for a long time. I worked with them at another startup. It wasn’t their own but they came in kind of as acting CMOs. So when they sold Magnet 360, I sent Scott a note saying, “I’d love to hear what you’re doing next. Are you guys finally stopping?” I wondered if they were finally just going to enjoy life and he said, “Oh you know us.” I then got an email [from Scott] that said, “Do you want to come see what we’re working on?”
So I came over and he showed me Lucy and everything Lucy does which, as a marketing person, was pretty incredible to sit and watch. Then he asked if I wanted to join him and come on as their marketing director.
N: You’ve been in marketing for a while. It’s quite an impressive career. What are some challenges that you’ve seen pop up time and time again?
L: There are a couple. There’s always more to do. Sales has needs, you have your own things you want to get done, there are people who just need projects done. It’s kind of like cell phones and laptops didn’t make you work less – they actually made you work more. And marketing is getting like that, too. It’s always busy and there are always more things people want. So just keeping up with the demand, that’s a part of marketing.
N: What’s your tactic to prioritize for yourself? How do you decide who gets to have what and when? And when do you get to pursue your things you want to get done?
L: If it’s something for a client or prospect, that wins out. So that’s easy. The longer I’ve been in it, I trust my judgment and push back if I need to. When I first started out my career, a sales person or someone would say “I need this right now.” And I’d say, “Oh my gosh, and I have another thing to do this week!” And now I’ll say, “OK that’s great, but I have other things going on. Are you alright getting this in a couple weeks? Or I’ll get to this by the end of the month.” Usually they say “Yeah, no hurry.” Or they’ll say “No I really need it by this date.”
So understanding that just because somebody’s asking you for something doesn’t always mean they want it right then. Some of the pressure is self-imposed where you think of this one more thing on my list. I guess I trust myself and I’ve been lucky to have bosses who trust me, too. I don’t have a problem saying I can’t get this done or this isn’t a priority or, when I had employees, pushing back for my employees and helping them stay organized.
Most marketers take pride in what we do and we want to help everybody and get everything done.
N: So this is sort of the million dollar question. What do you think makes good content and how do you like to measure it?
L: Obviously what makes good content is that people are reading it and care about it and they’re sharing it. I mean good content could be an email and someone writing back “Oh that’s a great tip, thanks!” It can be that minor – just somebody personally engaging in it. Sometimes a couple responses from high clients count more than a fun blog that was shared 1,000 times but didn’t move the needle anywhere.
Good content is measured by what the need is. Some of it here (at Equals 3) is just helping people to understand what artificial intelligence is and so, if that got passed along and shared, that’s great because that was the goal. If it’s more sales-driven content, only a few people might respond but that’s as successful.
There’s not one way to measure good content. It all depends on what the goal of that content is.
N: I just watched a webinar where they talked about how the difference between testing and trying new things is having a goal upfront to test against. Otherwise you’re just wandering.
L: And there’s value there, too. We’re getting so many tools and measurements, that sometimes you miss the creativity. The science of marketing is super important, but there’s also just that creative trying something.
N: What do you think is the most damaging misconception about what content marketing is or even marketing in general?
L: That it’s just marketing doing it. I think content marketing is such a piece of the whole company. If marketing doesn’t know what’s going on in the company or talking to sales or clients, your goals are never met. Because you don’t know what the sales challenges are, you don’t know what the clients are saying. It’s not just “Write some fun thing and get people to share it.” It’s got to be meaningful to the whole business. Whether it’s a white paper or a blog, it is a full business function that everybody needs to be a part of if they want to have good content. It has to be something everybody believes in or nothing is good.
Another misconception is that it’s a waste of time because it’s not shared. If there are two really good, small outcomes, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a win.
N: So this might be a silly question because you work for Equals 3, which is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, but what are the marketing tools you like to use on a day-to-day basis?
L: For me, HubSpot. HubSpot is everything I live and breathe in right now. I’m a one-person marketing team, which I’ve never been before. So all of a sudden, I’m in charge of the emails, I’m in charge of eveything. So HubSpot makes it very easy for me. It was very easy to learn and use in that sense.
Now, with that, there are other tools. If you catch me on a different day, it might be different. We use BrandpointHUB if we’re doing a blog back and forth. If I have interns come in and I have designing to do but they don’t know InDesign, I love Canva because I can get them into Canva, it’s easy, show them, get it done.
[Related: How Equals 3 streamlined communication and increased transparency in their content creation process using BrandpointHUB]
N: Let’s keep going with that. What’s one of the biggest challenges of being the one-person marketing team?
L: One was just learning everything again. I was very good at looking at someone else’s work and being more strategic about design I liked or words that worked. When you’re doing it all, you miss that brainstorming. It’s hard to do both pieces. It’s much easier to second-guess myself when I’m doing all the levels. If I’m deep in the “getting things done” mode, it’s hard to step back and look at the big picture. You also miss somebody else bringing ideas to the table. And when you’re on a team, you have people to bounce ideas off of. I’m lucky because we have really creative founders who are always bringing stuff to the table.
N: So what do you love about it?
L: I love learning about things I’ve never done before. I love figuring out the coding and how to change the website. I love figuring out the emails and all the systems because I directed it, but had never done it. It’s also good to gain the perspective of a creative again. It’s nice to get in and understand how all of those pieces work together.
And my VERY favorite part is that it’s much easier to write content and be a marketer when you’re a part of a team where you’re in every meeting and the owners make sure you know what’s going on. You’re not working in a bubble or a silo at all. There’s nothing you can’t ask, and there’s usually nothing you don’t know about.
N: What’s one content marketing tactic you think is really overrated? One you see businesses doing all the time and you have no idea why.
L: I don’t know if there are any that are overrated. They all make sense for something. But the idea of everything new. “Oh I just saw this! We have to do this!” I think where companies get the most stuck is in social media. We want to do all these things and they’re not always done well. “Did you see this company got this many shares here and this many website visits here.” Have the all the new and best all the time – that’s what’s overdone.
I much prefer the idea of taking a couple tactics you haven’t tried before and do them well. THEN add on.
N: What’s one project you’re working on right now you’re particularly excited about?
L: Aside from every piece of Lucy, our customer success team is growing. So we’ll have more people to understand how our customers are using it and what we can do to help them understand more. We’ve been really lucky with PR and we’ve got a great blog team. But because this is a new challenge, it’s really exciting. Because if marketers use Lucy and train Lucy, their job is going to be so much better. But the problem is the initial adoption and understanding why your company hired her.
So the customer success team is doing a wonderful job already but I’m excited to see where it goes. Because it’s easy to get excited about the idea of Lucy but it’s another to actually understand how to use her.
N: I read the blog you shared about how artificial intelligence isn’t these robots thinking for themselves and making their own decision. It takes a lot of training, it takes a lot of human input. Where do you start?
L: Yeah you’ve got to find ways they can see some quick wins and make them take a step back and see how Lucy can really help. Sometimes I’ve done that where I forget I even have a tool that I can use in a certain situation.
N: What’s your favorite book, either regular or marketing?
L: When I get a few minutes to read it’s usually for enjoyment. I just finished Lilac Girls and loved it. Right now I’m reading Beartown.
Getting a chance to read between my job and kids and kids’ sports and everything is very rare. So I love whatever book I get to escape in at that exact moment.
From the marketing side, I don’t read long marketing novels, but I’ll read blogs or articles. I do take about an hour almost every day to search and see what’s been published in the industry.
N: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
L: Way back when I was in print and just learning design, I remember “White space. White space is good.”
One that sticks with me is from back at Welsh and Colliers. I remember always asking permission to do this or that and Jean Kane (the CEO) would always say “Just go.” She taught me that, if you don’t take chances, nothing is going to get done. If you ask everybody’s permission, all of a sudden, it’s too late. Just take a leap and don’t be afraid to get in trouble for it sometimes.
Another big one would be from my parents. I was a teacher way back before I started in marketing. And then coming from a stable company to here, they’ve always said “What do you have to lose?” and that kind of goes with taking chances.
And the other thing that, as a boss, it’s to let things go sometimes. It’s very hard as you move up to not try and perfect everything. But is that stock image really going to make or break the project or should you just move on? Understand that everyone’s going to have an opinion but just go with it. That helps as a manager. People need ownership and projects need to keep moving.
N: Do you find you get hung up more or less on those smaller details now that you’re doing everything?
L: Probably more because it’s my work. It’s easier to give someone else a little more slack than myself. The same person who told me “White space is good,” is at a startup now. So we’re going back and forth and reminding each other to let it go and that not everything is absolutely crucial.
N: Yeah especially if you’re being creative, it’s hard not to get attached to your ideas and your work.
L: And to tell other people to let it go. This is never going to go out [if we keep nitpicking], so let’s go.