Building a Brand in a Highly Competitive Marketplace
Smarter GTM 09.06.2022

Building a Brand in a Highly Competitive Marketplace

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With the competitive marketplace, how do we successfully build a brand? In such a chaotic environment – COVID-19, the Great Resignation, and now an economic downturn, how do we attract and retain top talent? In this episode, Julia Stead dives into the practicals on implementing a systematic marketing plan, focusing on investment, marketing research and analysis, and understanding the growth stages of the company. Listen closely as she offers advice on what leaders can do to attract and keep top talent and the ways to create a supportive work environment. Tune in!

About the Guest

As CMO at 15Five, Julia helps create transformational change in the world of people management, delivering tools and education to HR leaders, managers, and employees that unlock every individual’s peak performance. She brings over 15 years of B2B marketing experience driving market leadership and revenue at high-growth SaaS companies. 

Connect with Julia Stead

Key Takeaways

  • Invest equally in demand generation and building the brand.
  • The key to successful marketing leadership is a close relationship with your head of finance and head of sales.
  • Managing when you’re in growth mode can be difficult, but also important to think about when you may have to throttle back due to other conditions.
  • When in growth mode, it’s important to focus on demand generation (sales-led or product-led), brand spending, and other foundational investments.
  • It can be difficult to know when to take risks and invest in marketing, but it is important to do so to stay ahead of the competition.
  • Keeping top talent engaged and happy is key to retaining them and leadership must establish clear goals and priorities and create a supportive work environment.


“So often, companies lead their marketing with their product value proposition, product features, and product, product, product… That can be boring or just generic. It doesn’t create that emotional pull for your buyer, right? But if you can tap into what their world is, what they are living and breathing, and create a higher-level story that connects with them and feels like you get them, even if it’s not pushing your product… I think that goes a long way to capturing the hearts and minds. It’s almost like what do you, as a brand, stand for?” – Julia Stead

Highlights from the Episode

If you are a leader tasked with building a brand, what should be your investment strategy? What kind of programs should you be looking at?

First, it is critical to consider your market and the current conditions. Standing out in a crowded market requires investment in the brand. To implement this, organizations need to understand where the highest concentration of their audience can be found. From there, it is about investing in the right channels such as billboards, signages, radio, podcasts, etc. Creates a lasting impression on the audience through interconnected channels and telling a consistent story. By running the production cycle while keeping the marketing campaigns fresh with the element of emotion instead of pushing the product, brands may power their growth.

How can leaders manage their marketing spending appropriately when they are in growth mode?

Spending on branding strategically sets you up for future success. Scaling back may be necessary to fill the pipeline. The keys are to have honesty, vulnerability, transparency, and good relationships among leaders and peers.  Ensure that everyone is on the same wavelength on the company’s focus and that marketing must be in alignment with everyone’s awareness of the company’s trajectory.

How do you throttle your spending to power growth, but also not burn too much money when you are going through an economic downturn?

The marketing leader must observe data points on business interest, product or service demand, pipeline, deal cycles, retention rates, and customer sentiments to clearly understand how the business is doing. This facilitates a more informed opinion on the market conditions and how the business should react. Doing this allows marketing leaders to make a recommendation on the next steps to take.

What can leaders do to attract & retain marketing talent right now? How can leaders keep their teams engaged and performing their best in such a chaotic environment?

When it comes to attracting talent, it boils down to what the company has to offer. It is not only about the benefits, but how they can be part of the company’s growth. Getting to know the person may require asking personal questions because home and work life are highly intertwined. The hiring manager sets the tone for the outcome of the relationship with talents, so it is important to be willing to communicate directly with the candidates. Empathetic leaders are in demand. As the company grows, it is vital to keep the team focused on high performance while balancing the empathy for stress. People in the team want to feel supported. The key to retaining the team is by keeping them engaged. Focus on winning together as a team, set the right goals and priorities, make the whole team aligned and going in the same direction, and celebrate business success. Keep the environment open and allow for people to talk about things outside of work to promote stronger relationships between peers. Finally, ensure that people are paid fairly for their roles and responsibilities.

Is there a book, blog, newsletter, website, or video that you would recommend to our listeners?


Bróna O’ Connor – VP Marketing at MediaValet

Joe Chernov – Marketing leader at

Udi Ledergor – CMO at Gong


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