Todd Clouser: How To Cultivate In-House Creators as a Creator Manager

I recently had a talk with Todd, the self-proclaimed “worst marketer in the world”.

But turns out, he might be the best at being the worst, especially when it comes to managing creators.

Who is Todd Clouser?

Todd is an amazing marketer, consultant, creator, and creator manager.

When I think about Todd, I think about actors having a manager to help them out getting different roles in movies and building up fan loyalty.

Here’s why I have these thoughts.

He pitched himself at Lavender using one of his TikTok videos where he was pointing out that B2B companies should be hiring for two new roles in 2023.

@todd_clouser

Imagine a marketing team made up of creators built out the same way sales teams use SDRs. The #creatoreconomy is coming for b2b, but it’s not going to look the same as it does in B2C. Forward thinking marketing teams will build a team of full time content creators the same way sales teams build out SDR teams. The goal being to evangelize product users into die-hard fans and turn non-users into aspiring users. #b2bmarketing

♬ original sound – Todd Clouser

One is that they should hire a creator manager and the second role is hiring individual creators.

So, Todd saw himself as a creator manager coaching people how to become in-house creators for the company they work for.

But why did he choose Lavender to pitch? 

Because all the marketing this company put out at that time was already very in line with stuff that he was creating.

He knew he would be a perfect fit.

Besides working for Lavender, Todd also creates the “The Worst Marketer in the World” series for The Flow (by HockeyStack).

He co-founded Easy Mode, a consulting agency for B2B SaaS marketing teams that want to create a media engine through in-house creators.

But let’s get into more details about what Todd is doing and how.

What makes Todd a B2B creator and a creator manager?

First of all, why “the worst marketer in the world”?

Todd thinks that marketing should be about two things: education and entertainment, and that you should know how to mix these two.

So he created the “The Worst Marketer In The World” series for The Flow (by Hockey Stack) to challenge industry norms, to entertain people using humor and relatability for those working in marketing, and obviously to connect with his audience.

In each one of the videos he is taking a marketing concept and using humor he highlights common practices or misconceptions in the marketing industry.

Using the adjective “worst” in his title series is an immediate attention-grabber strategy making people working in marketing want to see what it’s all about.

He also builds his personal brand around this title as he used it as a hook in his LinkedIn bio to create a contrast to the typical self-promotional bios you typically see on LinkedIn and it also piques curiosity making you want to read more about him and see what he’s doing.

Creating a presence on LinkedIn

He currently has an audience of almost 18,000 followers and he takes his time to talk about marketing, creator economy, audience building, and many more related subjects.

What really helped him boost his LinkedIn was his TikTok account.

In the second half of 2021 he changed his job and went to work at RefineLabs where he had to grow their YouTube and TikTok accounts.

That’s when he also decided to create his own TikTok account

In August 2021 he started to create videos about how to grow a YouTube channel and he also created some entertainment videos with a mix of educational videos about marketing and sales.

His LinkedIn posts went from 4-14 likes to hundreds of likes and comments with spikes of 4.245 likes for his TikTok video reposted on Linkedin about marketing and sales as a married couple.

That’s when he made a TikTok video talking about why marketers should be on TikTok saying that in just three weeks after he created his TikTok videos he had more following and comments on LinkedIn, got invited to podcasts, and had a lot of organic reach.

But after a year and a half he stopped creating his funny videos about marketing because of burn out and went on to take the position of a creator manager at Lavender.

What does a creator manager do?

In Todd’s opinion, a creator manager is someone who has built audiences before, knows the bits and ends of marketing, stays up to date to creator trends, and ultimately knows how to coach people on creating content.

When he pitched himself at Lavender for this role he knew he checked all the boxes.

He knew how to build an audience and knew marketing inside out because at the beginning of his career he built a 2-people media company from the ground.

He foresaw the creator economy trend taking over the B2B marketing and he also knew other creator trends since he was also a creator himself.

Plus, he co-founded Easy Mode where he offered consulting for B2B marketing teams on how to create in-house creators.

At the time, Lavender also saw potential in investing in creator programs because they were already rolling Lavender Joe.

So Todd obviously got the role, and one of his first attributions was to take on the sales team and turn it into creators because Lavender’s audience is sales persons.

Todd came up with the idea of a 3-Minute Sales School for Mike Wander.

Todd’s solution was simple – Mike’s sole task was to rewrite an email. Todd presented the idea of revised emails to Mike and they were ready to roll. 

They gamified their meeting to capture audience’s attention, setting up only 3 minutes for Mike to rewrite the email, used Lavender to grade which email was better (the before or after), and inserted bloopers to make the short video more entertaining.

They realized that the mini series were successful when they started seeing their audience interacting with the content using their core terms such as “Do better, Mike” in the comments.

The reason behind this concept revolves around Todd’s idea that content needs to be based on a valuable idea delivered to your audience in an interesting format built on an entertaining concept.

But, did Todd manage to put a spell on Mike and make him a creator?

I’d say yes. Mike has now an audience of 14,132 people on LinkedIn, he’s invited to podcasts, he creates new types of videos about sales for Lavender that he publishes on his page, and people continue to engage with everything he posts.

Mission accomplished.

And he’s doing the same thing with Jen Allen Knuth and  Will Aitken with the Jen vs. Will episodes that LavenderLand has.

This show was created to engage with front-line sellers where viewers pick a side and share that publicly. 

It drives a lot of traffic back to LavenderLand and it creates awareness of Lavender.

So the role of a creator manager is to facilitate the transformation of subject matter experts into content creators by implementing a strategic and sustainable plan that aligns with their expertise and minimizes the impact on their core responsibilities.

What was Todd’s approach to building an in-house creator program for Lavender and for Hockey State?

Todd believes that companies should diversify content creation and avoid dependence on a single individual, especially someone in the C-suite or high up in the organization.

When relying on one person, there’s a vulnerability – if that person decides to leave, there’s a substantial loss.

Think of a single person doing full-time YouTube. In this scenario, all the power is concentrated in that individual’s hands, and if they choose to depart, it can have significant consequences.

So the solution to minimize the risk is to diversify the creators in your company.

It’s a practical approach given the high rates of people changing B2B SaaS in particular plus you can create multiple types of content since not everyone’s content is universally appealing

It won’t resonate with everyone, but you can definitely create different types of content for other creators in your company to fill in the gaps for other audiences you may want to attract.

And yes, you could simply hire external influencers for the campaigns you need but, building internal creators builds more trust in the company and knows your product better.

Additionally, you can adopt a team mentality.

If you have projects where a couple of in-house creators collaborate, if one person needs to be replaced, the transition will be smoother.

Overall, this approach is safeguarding against the downsides of over-reliance on a single individual while creating a collaborative and team-oriented content creation environment.

Todd doesn’t have a fixed program to build creators and Lavender doesn’t specifically hire in-house creators.

When searching for someone in their sales team to become an in-house creator, they set up a meeting with everyone on sales, getting to know them and seeing who would like to create some content because he strongly believes that 

People should know their company for their sales people content.

So he met with everyone and had a sense of what people could be good at.

Then he took his time to create different concepts for shows based on each person’s personality and then he pitched that content to the sales team.

Todd’s 3 key ideas for B2B companies looking to leverage in-house creators

1. Identify and train a creator manager

First of all, recognize the importance of having a dedicated creator manager in this process.

This person needs to possess a unique skill set, being both creative and knowledgeable about strategic marketing principles.

It should be someone who built audiences before, someone who is a creator themselves to lead by example.

Why?

Because if they are a great marketer and walk in the shoes of a creator, it will be easier for them to understand the struggles of a fresh new creator.

So you should invest time identifying and training the right person for this role for the success of the in-house creator initiative.

2. Try a different approach to employee advocacy

Move beyond the traditional employee advocacy model where everyone is encouraged to post content on their personal accounts without customization.

Focus on figuring out each individual’s strengths and interests to create a more effective content strategy for each one of them.

By understanding what each person is good at and helping them achieve their potential, the organization can create a more diverse content that appeals to the same audience or maybe more.

3. Focus on internal marketing

Acknowledge the challenge of tracking internal marketing efforts and leverage the creative manager as a facilitator.

The creative manager’s role extends beyond creating content to building the influence of other team members.

As a creator manager, people will not reach out to you, but to the in-house creator’s posts, DMs and so on.

So team members should share their creations and achievements directly with the creative manager or directly with the other company members so others could see their efforts and successes.

How can you measure an in-house creator’s success?

Todd thinks that the most important KPI is the output that will give you qualitative feedback about audience preferences.

As creators progress, more advanced metrics come into play, such as engagement levels, invitations to participate in podcasts or webinars, and being tagged in relevant conversations by people the in-house creator doesn’t know. 

And the main KPI are people coming inbound and self reporting that they heard about you from TikTok series, YouTube, webinars, etc.

And it’s really hard to understand the B2B creator trend and to measure it.

It’s different from creating an ebook where you put in an amount into promoting it and get a certain number of MQLs.

In-house creators are not something that you put an amount of dollars in and get X amount out of it.

When Todd was interviewed by Refine Labs where they told him they want to raise their YouTube channel his immediate question was “how long are you willing to give it?”.

That’s because content is a long-time game and you have to invest a long-time to have those dividends to pay off, and long-term play is not equal to 90 days.

On YouTube you may need to post weekly for two years before you can actually see results.

To create successful in-house creators you need to invest a lot of time and resources.

But it should not be your only focus. You should have other initiatives running in the background until you reach that tipping point with your creators.

What can you learn from Todd?

Don’t wait for others to tell you you’re fit for the job

If you know you have the qualities necessary for a job, don’t stand and wait for them to knock on your door.

You should know how to advocate for your skills, and actively seek opportunities that align with your expertise, thus shaping your professional narrative, but to do this make sure you raise your confidence bar at first.

Build a team of in-house creators

I’ve said this a couple of times in this newsletter, but I’ll continue to say it.

Become an in-house creator or build a creator program within your organization to boost your awareness, engagement, and new prospects.

Todd said that depending on a single creator in the team won’t get you far since people will continue to shift jobs in B2B Saas for better positions.

Create more creators, build up a positive work culture, and possibly you’ll benefit from their expert knowledge longer than you think – or at least that’s what Nathan Barry’s doing at Converkit.

Leverage multiple platforms to boost your presence

By creating content that resonated with different audiences on TikTok and LinkedIn, Todd expanded his reach and increased his engagement on LinkedIn, his main social platform.

You could do the same with other social platforms, depending on where you want to grow and build an audience.

Final Thoughts

What I like about Todd is his strategic, creative, and proactive approach that shows us that we can redefine the way they connect with audiences.

It encourages us to focus less on traditional marketing and embrace a more innovative and personalized strategy that blends education and entertainment.