As we work towards elevating the world of B2B marketing, a piece of that includes investing in our own team, and we’ve recently added a new team member to the agency. You may have noticed him make a quiet debut on the blog, but we wanted to take the time to officially introduce you to our new director of business development, Ryan Arnholt.
Ryan is new to TopRank Marketing, but is a seasoned B2B tech and B2B SaaS marketer. He is passionate about the power of great content, and has spent the last 20+ years leading growth for B2B brands large and small through content, social, search and media initiatives. He likes to open a discussion with humor, but always backs that up with data (at least that’s what he tells us). He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with a wild and crazy family, two cats, a bearded dragon and the requisite companion cockroach farm. He’s run a marathon a year since 2007 and just can’t shake the vice.
I had the chance to ask him a few questions about why he wanted to join TopRank Marketing, what pain points he’s hearing within the industry, career advice for B2B marketers looking to advance in their careers and more. Check out the video:
Here’s the full transcript of the interview with TopRank Marketing’s director of agency marketing, Katelyn Drake, and new director of business development, Ryan Arnholt:
Why were you interested in joining the TopRank Marketing team?
TopRank Marketing has been around for a couple of decades. Not in an official capacity, but I worked with Lee Odden a bit in the past. He was in and around companies that I was involved in, and always had a fantastic reputation. At that point, I was running SEO programs and admired what this agency was doing.
TopRank is a company that I’ve always had a lot of respect for.
What are you most excited for in your new role at TopRank Marketing?
I think there’s an opportunity a lot on the process side of sales. Particularly when you enter a new organization, you’re looking at new ways to do things. A lot of times, there’s a gravitation towards the content, and what it is the company does, and the materials that we have. A lot of my background has also been on the process side of things. Believe it or not, coming into a company that’s been around for a couple of decades, there’s a lot of process things that I feel I can immediately improve upon, and add my mark, and just look for ways to improve on things as I’m learning the business, and learning about clients that we work with, and the capabilities that our team has.
In the early goings, stepping right into HubSpot, it being my home was very helpful. I would say that in the early going, in the grand scheme of things, what I’m most excited about is the fact that this is a company that does content marketing, and does it really well. That’s a role I’ve had in the past, running content marketing programs, and building content marketing teams. Being familiar with the impact that content marketing can make, and having a huge team of people who are experts in it, it’s great just to know that. It’s an area that I have a lot of passion about, and I know it’s important, and we have great people doing it.
You mentioned that you knew Lee a bit coming in. Is there anything that surprised you about Lee, or about the agency since you’ve started?
One of the big surprises is just how the agency is set up. I think every group has different structures of things, and so a lot of what Lee has done in the past, and his position with the company as a spokesperson, an advocate, he’s really out there as an influencer in the industry. In terms of the day-to-day running of the business, there are a lot of great people at senior levels that are making the engine go, which really frees up Lee, at an executive position, to be that ambassador of TopRank, and our capabilities. That was something a bit different. Everybody was reporting up to Lee, and he was giving the daily direction, and I think good executives that have a vision for the future, of what it should be, tend to find ways to get great people in charge, and remove themselves from the day to day, and he’s done that.
You are new to our team, but you’re not new to the world of B2B SaaS, and B2B tech brands. What pain points are you hearing right now?
I think it’s been the case for the last 80 years of marketing, how long has marketing really been official? Trying to do more with less, or, how do you extend yourself into new areas where there are opportunities, when you know some things that work, and you want to try new things, and different things? How do you do that with a team? In a lot of cases, can you build out the internal capabilities of your team, but can you also add agency resources and expertise to do that? I would say that’s always been consistent throughout my career, what are the things that we can do more with less?
One of the current trends, how we’re trying to do more with less, is with AI and machine learning. A lot of that, it was completely expected on the process side, and on data intelligence and gathering, and filtering through things there. Just in the last year here, it’s taken off in terms of how can we use this for content, and how do we do it efficiently in a way that keeps the human element of content in everything that we’re putting together? I think that’s a trend that — it’s new — and it’s a way that people are trying to do more with less.
How do you think TopRank Marketing uniquely helps solve those pain points?
I’d mentioned previously expertise and long-tenured expertise in this area. TopRank, being one of the first companies to embark on influencer marketing and B2B, I think gives us a lot of experience and deep expertise in areas, a network of influencers who we worked with before. I think that long tenure leads to — when you’re working with TopRank — you have people who have seen a lot of stuff before, and they’ve experienced successes and failures, and trials. Being able to translate that into quicker wins, and more efficient marketing for clients is something where TopRank has been able to solve those problems.
You are joining the team at an exciting time. After 22 years in business, we have a new logo. We launched a new website last month, and part of the rebrand is all around the idea of elevating B2B marketing. What does elevate B2B, Ryan?
It is rooted a bit in the fact that B2C marketing often, because there might be bigger budgets, and it’s more visible, you see big television commercials and you see huge, expensive programs, it’s about trying to change the opinions of a billion consumers. B2B can often be overlooked, or the challenges of it are aren’t as readily apparent, as trying to influence a smaller number of people, but get a deep influence. This isn’t for a quick purchase, this isn’t for purchasing something off the shelf. This is about creating a deep relationship, and understanding what you can do in marketing, and business development, and sales, to create a deep, meaningful relationship with that person and that company.
I think a lot of fantastic work happens across the industry, and a lot of it is in B2B, and a lot of those stories just aren’t told. Part of it is the fact that a lot of companies in B2B do not like to share who they’re working with, and how they got things done. There are no visible commercials for a lot of B2B stuff. For Elevate B2B marketing, it’s really about highlighting, in ways that we can, the great work that goes into putting together fantastic programs that ultimately make a larger impact in the business world than a lot of the consumer programs do.
“The idea of elevating B2B marketing is about creating relationships, and understanding what you can do in marketing, business development, and sales, to create deep, meaningful connections.” — Ryan Arnholt @ArbenAngstrom Click To Tweet
Do you have any advice for B2B marketers looking to make a move internally, or externally, really build their career?
In my experience, and this is where you can take it or leave it, having a diversity of experiences, different roles, different company sizes, different environments, has been helpful to understand the different challenges you face. Working at a company with two people, understanding what it is to take something across the finish line, is very valuable when you’re working at a company with 10,000 people. It’s those same skills that are necessary.
One of the other things I wanted make sure is something people at least embrace as a possibility is working with an organization. Whether it’s in a professional capacity — I was on the board of the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association for a number of years — or it could just be a nonprofit board, but there’s a huge opportunity to work in an environment where people aren’t necessarily paid to do the work. They don’t necessarily have to listen to what people say, or the commands that are coming out from the top of the organization, but you learn a great deal about the influence that you can make, and how good of a leader you are if you can challenge people with a problem, and try to get them to solve it when they’re not just paid to do it. It’s not just their job to do it, but it’s something that they want to do, and they feel that it’s something that could be valuable for a community, for a sector of their people with like-minded interests.
The takeaway there, get a diversity of experience and do some volunteer opportunities with a board or an organization.
Ready to elevate your B2B brand?
Meet Katelyn, our Director of Agency Marketing, with over 15 years of invaluable experience. She has a diverse marketing background spanning the finance, education, franchising, and non-profit sectors, making her a versatile strategist well-versed in full-service marketing. Katelyn’s innovative thinking and expertise in experiential, lead generation, and digital marketing help us drive impactful campaigns that resonate. When she’s not captivating our team with her quick wit and infectious energy, Katelyn’s passion for industry knowledge-sharing and community-building can be spotted at industry events, as well as exploring her native Michigan with her family and rescue goldendoodle, Benny.