Tanguy Verbelen, Freelance Growth Strategist

Tanguy Verbelen has been passionate about digital growth strategies since he created a MySpace page for a band when he was only a teenager. He now has over 4 years of professional experience in the industry, and as a freelance Growth Strategist, he helps B2B SaaS and tech companies grow their business.

He is also Growth Marketer at StoryChief.io, an all-in-one content marketing platform that allows you to create, publish, analyze content campaigns from start to finish.

Why did you choose a career in marketing, how did you start?

I’ve been very passionate about all things digital since I can remember. When I was 14 years old, I spent a lot of time on social networks trying to get the word out about my high school band in the early 2000s. This was basically the only thing I was doing after school. At that time, MySpace was the place to go and we got quite some traction over there with a following south of 5,000 people.

Even though the band split up after a few years, I still remember that period as one of the building blocks for my passion for (digital) marketing.

Tell us a bit about your professional path until now. 

I actually landed my first job while I was still at university. I studied communication and during my last year, I was offered a job as the first employee at Speakersbase, a startup platform in the public speaking industry. I took a leap of faith and decided to join the company. In the following two years, I helped grow the user base from 200 users to 2,000 users from over 55 countries without any marketing budget.

After that, I’ve held growth positions at different Belgian startups (Immofy, Social Seeder, StoryChief) which resulted in becoming a freelance growth strategist for B2B tech companies.

What advice do you wish you got when you started your career in marketing? 

I’ve learned that it’s important to keep a good balance between strategy and execution. To illustrate: if you’re driving a car and you spend too much time thinking about where you want to go, you’ll end up going nowhere. On the other hand, if you’re just driving without knowing where you’re going, there’s a big chance that are you’re driving in the opposite direction of where you want to go. Finding the sweet spot between the two is crucial for creating a marketing machine that’s built for business success.

Top 3 learnings in your marketing career that brought the most value?

1.Spend time learning to know your audience: knowing who your target audience is, is paramount for marketers. The more you get to know them, the better you’ll reach them. That’s why you should spend time talking to customers, listening in on sales calls, or interacting with them on social media.

2. Focus on creating valuable insights: as a marketer, your number one priority should always be to create value for your target audience. If you know to solve their problems and give them valuable insights, rest assured that they’ll end up becoming a customer or refer you to one of their peers.

3. Experiment with wild ideas: I highly suggest to leave some room for spontaneous ideas into your marketing mix. Even though marketing is becoming more data-driven nowadays, there still needs to be room for creativity. And sometimes, that’s all it takes to go viral with your marketing campaign.

One result you are really proud of as a marketeer

I have to say that I’m most proud of what our team at Speakersbase has achieved in those two years. It went from being a great idea to becoming one of the leading platforms in the public speaking industry with more than 2,000 users worldwide.

The main tactic we used was genuine social media outreach. We connected with thousands of public speakers, asked them to take a look at our platform and to give feedback about their experience. Not only did we gain users that way, but we also got a lot of valuable insights on how they used our platform and what was missing. Through that approach, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people, some of whom inspire me to this day to be a better marketer.

What’s one important B2B marketing trend that will gain popularity in 2021, in your opinion? 

I believe that marketing is going to become more conversation-driven in the coming years. We’re seeing the rise of podcasts, the implementation of chatbots, and, more recently, the emerge of apps like Stereo or Clubhouse. This allows B2B marketers to connect more with their customers (and each other) in a genuine and unscripted way.

The same goes for written content. Google’s continuously updating their algorithm to better understand content and conversational linguistic patterns. This forces content marketers to write content for their audience and not for search engines.

Which is the strongest social media channel in 2021, and why? 

For B2B marketers, LinkedIn will stay on top of the game for 2021. It’s where most B2B companies’ target audiences spend the most of their time, and I don’t see that change for quite some time. However, it’ll be interesting to see how LinkedIn is going to evolve as a platform. The organic reach is less than it used to be, but there’s still a lot of engagement on personal posts.

Personally, I’m rooting for TikTok to break into the B2B marketing scene. I’m seeing a lot of great marketing content from talented creators over there. So, I’m curious to see how that will evolve over time and how LinkedIn will hold up against this ‘new kid on the block’.

What would you recommend to businesses that want to grow in 2021? What about the tactics they should avoid?

I’d love to see more businesses that would give creativity a chance. I see way too many companies spend way too much time overanalyzing content which, as a result, kills all creativity. Ironically, when there’s a lot of room for creativity and spontaneous ideas, those brands are performing much better in terms of engagement, and have a higher chance to go viral.

Can you name one digital marketing tactic that you find overrated?

One tactic I’ve tried once and saw mixed results was implementing pop-up messaging on websites. Initially, I saw a rise in conversion, but that rapidly slowed down. On top of that, website visitors said that they found the pop-ups really annoying. To me, it was clear that this was a tactic I wasn’t going to try again sometime soon.

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