Last year’s Business Growth Summit featured a panel of marketing experts interviewed by Weave’s own Jen Gray. The conversation covers all things marketing, including vital channels, scalability, customer engagement, content ideas, and campaign testing.

At the time, PJ Howland was the VP of Industry Insights at 97th Floor, where he specialized in content marketing and SEO. AJ Wilcox is the founder of, a site dedicated to LinkedIn advertisements. Ben Ard is the Senior Director of Demand at Weave, a position that gives him a unique perspective on demand generation for businesses.

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What are the biggest lessons you learned last year?

It’s crucial that businesses learn to find the right audience and then target that audience by building better relationships. Small businesses have a particular advantage over larger corporations in this regard since they’re closer to their customers. Because bigger companies are further from the end of the customer journey, they can’t respond to customer needs as quickly.

Another lesson the panel learned is that businesses can’t go with “talk to our sales team” pitches anymore. It’s essential that businesses provide value in their marketing campaigns. These types of campaigns don’t expect anything out of current and potential customers. They simply offer something (information, education, perks) to them.

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Which channels are vital for today’s business owners?

LinkedIn is an underrated marketing channel because it makes it easy to go viral. You’re best served by trying to elicit comments on the platform. One way to elicit a high volume of comments is asking people to vote on a topic, like choosing between two logo designs.

Google Reviews is another powerful channel for business owners. If you’re looking to grow your business, start collecting as many authentic, positive reviews from customers as possible. Don’t forget to reply to comments by thanking customers or asking negative reviewers what your business can do to improve.

How do you build marketing campaigns to scale?

Everyone seems to want to scale in today’s business world. It’s important to first build something that’s worth scaling. Figure out how to nail one or two campaigns before trying to increase the size and scope of your campaigns.

When thinking about scalability, the acronym “A.M.O.” is often useful. These three letters stand for Audience, Message, and Offer. Once you’ve identified your audience, it’s easy to scale up. Run tests of your messaging to figure out which messages actually work. And remember, the right product or offer will do most of your marketing for you.

What are the best ways to engage current customers?

The panel believes the future of marketing is engaging current customers. The era of trying to get to people first is ending, and now marketing is about connecting with customers through email marketing, Facebook, and word-of-mouth marketing.

Don’t be afraid to advertise to your current customers. Advertising to your existing clientele can still provide value, but you can’t hesitate to spend money on these types of campaigns. Even if your target audience is small, well-designed campaigns can yield big returns.

What are the best platforms for leveraging marketing to current customers?

Although it used to be somewhat awkward, text messaging has become a strategic tool for marketing to your customers. Text messages have a high open rate of 90+% ¹ compared to email, which is generally around 20%.² Millennials want to do business by text; meet the up and coming generation where they stand.

Marketing technology is going to continue to morph and diversify in the near future. It will be harder for old platforms to meet every need businesses have. However, platforms that are able to consolidate by having their tools communicate with each other and share data will have a significant advantage.

What are some simple content ideas?

Across the board, the panel thinks businesses need to be using a more personal voice with their prospective customers, and that doesn’t mean simply inserting a first name into emails. Throw in some jokes and display your specific personality. Figure out the pain points, curiosities, and interests of your audience, then develop niche content for them.

In working with businesses, our marketing panel frequently runs into organizations that don’t have customer personas. Personas are a basic tool that almost everyone learns about in business school. Not having personas leads to lazy marketing. While personas don’t have to be set in stone, your business should develop personas to base content around.

What are the key components of marketing personas?

Consider what your audience needs. What types of positions do they hold? What are they doing on a day-to-day basis? Imagine the hypothetical schedule of your audience and make a mockup of their average day. What needs do they come across regularly?

It’s useful to give the personas you develop names. Have specific customers in mind that embody the personas you’ve created. Giving personas their own names also makes company meetings and trainings easier.

How do you run a successful campaign test?

When running a test or experiment, be sure to get every one of your ideas out. Know what you’d like to measure, then use all the tools at your disposal to determine the impact of your various ideas.

Start with the metrics that matter most to your business. Test different offers, find a winner, then experiment with different types of advertising. Don’t be afraid to throw money at campaigns you’re testing. The data you collect will save you time and money further down the road.

What’s one thing you can do to improve your marketing strategy?

PJ tells businesses not to worry about finding new channels. If you’re not already on TikTok, don’t go out of your way to start a TikTok account. Figure out how to personalize your existing channels, because there’s probably a lot you can do to increase engagement on those platforms.

AJ recommends trying to create something unique. Business owners are often so caught up in the workings of their organization that they forget to make human connections in other places. Do something outside of your company to network, whether it’s attending conferences, posting on social media, or hosting a webinar.

Ben thinks businesses should be focused on making their existing customers happy. Providing a high-quality customer experience goes directly toward word-of-mouth marketing. Walk through your entire customer experience yourself to understand how to improve the customer journey. Watch a demo from Weave to learn how to make a significant impact in your marketing efforts.


  1. What is the open rate of SMS text messaging?
  2. Email Open Rates By Industry (& Other Top Email Benchmarks)