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Jon Leiberman shares his unusual career path & speaks to why campaigns must "sound human"

Our conversation with Jon Leiberman is a part of our advertiser speaker series. Editorial interviews with leading marketers made possible by our partner Partnerize.

Stream the discussion here.

Jon Leiberman jokes that he hardly knew how to even spell the word “marketing” eight years ago.

“And now I’m in the thick of it,” said Leiberman, the VP of Content, Social and Influencer Marketing at Demandbase, a B2B technology company.

Jokes aside, Leiberman has had an unusual career. He studied journalism at Northwestern and went on to be a television reporter and anchor. He worked as an investigative reporter, a bureau chief in Washington D.C. and even a correspondent for America’s Most Wanted and a reporter for the Howard Stern show. When he found himself wondering what the second part of his career would look like, he said he realized that no matter what role he was in, he had spent his whole working life as a content creator.

“All those years, I was creating content to try and attract and retain an audience,” he said. “Whether I was hosting a TV show, doing play-by-play for sports, hosting a radio show, or writing a book, the goal was to create content that people wanted to consume and then drive them somewhere else.”

That realization inspired Leiberman to start offering storytelling seminars for companies like SAP. The leaders at the software company were so impressed with Leiberman’s innovative approach, they offered him a job. His role was to lead a team to generate content that got people talking. “Then, while they were talking about it, we were actually driving them to a certain destination – that call to action,” Leiberman said.

“It was at that point that I started to realize that interaction of content, marketing and commerce,” he said.

Leiberman believes that content drives every part of a business.

He also has held the belief that every company would move toward becoming a media company – a theory that has started to actualize.

“Look at Demandbase,” he said. “We are a B2B technology company and yet, I view us, in part, as a media company with a streaming video site, with a vibrant block site and with a podcast.”

With all the data that can be collected, people can actually see how content is impacting the pipeline and sales, Leiberman said,

“To me, that’s really the biggest, most interesting thing,” he said.

Leiberman recently earned his MBA, a step that he said was important to prove to others in the corporate world that his atypical career path didn’t make him an outsider.

“People didn’t know what to make of me,” he said. “[An MBA] says ‘I can speak your language,” even when he doesn’t always believe in the effectiveness of that language.

Leiberman preaches the concept of using storytelling that “sounds human.”

“Nobody cares about your jargon. Nobody cares about your inside baseball,” he said. “Speak to people like they’re human. Connect with them and then they’ll buy what you’re selling.”

The team at DemandBase spends a lot of time thinking about how to drive people closer to making a purchase. They also talk about the idea of the “self-service buyer” in an era where it's no longer just the C-level executives making purchases.

“People down to the director level and even below can make certain purchases now,” he said. “So how do we make it as easy as possible for them to do that?”

That can open up opportunities to use content to cross-sell and upsell and “get them into your world,” Leiberman said.

“I think everything is headed that way,” he said. “You’re absolutely going to see a click-and-go and content is what is going to get people to that point.”

Consumers have also gotten savvier about how they consume content, making it all the more important to build trust with users. People understand that content can be created by a wide variety of content creators who have skin in the game and the polarized nature of the media landscape has perhaps benefited sponsored and brand content. But consumers are looking for quality no matter what.

“If it’s a good piece, it’s a good piece,” Leiberman said.

Stream the full conversation here, courtesy of Partnerize.

Stream our past advertiser speaker series interviews below:

Ian Yung, SVP of Growth at Tonal on what the role of a growth leader is and why it is important.

Elisa Charbonnel, Director of Growth at Disney Streaming on coining the term "aff-play"

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