A Sophisticated Marketer’s Perspective: Jason Miller on Channeling Your Passion
September 10, 2019
We might be marketers first, but we all have different hobbies, interests, and side hustles outside of the profession. These secondary vocations should not be viewed as distractions, but rather healthy complements to our careers. In many cases, there are attributes and experiences we can carry over that make us more unique, compelling, and successful as marketers.
Jason Miller has long been a champion for this idea. One of my favorite blog posts he ever wrote was titled, “How to not quit your day job and follow your dreams anyway.”
“Find a day job that you love, then find other things to work on that you love as well,” he urged. “It will make you much happier – and it’s likely to increase the value that you can bring to the business that pays your salary.”
Jason embodies this dynamic. He’s an avid rock-n-roll concert photographer, and a music aficionado in general. This passion is reflected in his work as a marketer, through his creativity, his originality, and — of course — his eye for aesthetics.
After spending several years as Head of Content and Social Media Marketing for LinkedIn EMEA, Jason now serves as Head of Brand for Microsoft EMEA Advertising. The veteran creator was kind enough to contribute his insights for our five-year anniversary edition of the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, and took some time out of his busy schedule to elaborate on his mindset in this interview for our “Sophisticated Marketer’s Perspective” series.
Read on to learn why he thinks marketers need to slow down, how to infuse your passions into your work, which aspects of photography can inform your social media strategy, and more.
Jason Miller on Slowing Down and Aiming Higher
1. What’s something interesting about you that’s not on your LinkedIn profile?
I’ve taken over 2 million concert photos in 15 countries and written over 1,000 music reviews. It’s all about keeping my creativity alive and well, and my writing sharp.
2. What are some key areas of opportunity for livening up B2B marketing?
Very simple. Slow down, do something different, and don’t settle for mediocrity. I’m astonished at how fast marketers are still moving and how many half-baked ideas and campaigns are pushed out the door in order to hit some sort of false metric put into place that they have to meet without understanding what the real impact to the business is. This mentality, if left unchecked, can spread to an entire team, or worse an entire organization. Four things will save us from this impending doom: creativity, accountability, constant curiosity, and collaboration.
“Four things will save us from impending doom: creativity, accountability, constant curiosity, and collaboration.” — Jason Miller
3. What would be your top recommendations for marketers who want to create and share video or audio content on LinkedIn?
Move past the talking head, learn simple editing skills, and take a course on storytelling with video and/or how to make short documentaries. Marketers need to ask themselves what message needs what format. Is a video necessary or will text be more impactful? I think it’s lazy to do a poor-quality talking head video in place of writing a blog. Maybe do both, but be consistent. Stop chasing the “influencers” and the advice to hustle all the time.
4. How can we apply the principles of compelling content marketing to B2B advertising?
The principles haven’t changed since I started in B2B more than 10 years ago. The 'Big Rock' concept is still incredibly effective. Slowing down, doing more with less, and brains-over-budget are at the core of this strategy. It’s so incredibly simple to do, but marketers just can’t seem to slow down so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of content shock.
5. What’s your favorite example of memorable LinkedIn campaign?
My favorite campaign will always be the Read Me series. I thought it represented everything a great campaign should be: simple, helpful, creative, and without fluff. It said what it did on the tin and the results speak for themselves. This was an intelligent risk that exceeded expectations and the B2B world certainly needs more examples of this. The other reason I loved working on this one is because it allowed me to bring two of my passion projects into this: music and photography. It wasn’t easy to tie together, but the story behind the content was bigger and more interesting than the majority of B2B content happening at the time. That’s where the magic happened. It’s strange to me that so many marketers struggle to find the balance between injecting their personality into their projects, because if they did it effectively, this space would be much more compelling.
“It’s strange to me that so many marketers struggle to find the balance between injecting their personality into their projects, because if they did it effectively, this space would be much more compelling.” — Jason Miller
6. Which aspects of photography can we apply to make our visuals stand out on social media?
This goes back to one of my earlier points around constant curiosity (coined by my good friend and brilliant marketer Jon Burkhart). Tie that into the growth mindset and you have a marketer who is constantly learning, experimenting and most importantly evolving. Take a course on basic photography setting and get out of auto. Learn how to effectively work with light and control how your photos are exposed. Then take a course on basic composition. If you do both of these then you will never look at a stock photo ever again. That’s the key: move away from the boring, corporate images that all look the same. The ones that are safe are the ones that don’t draw attention (or conversions). Even more interesting is that the company you work for very likely has budget for this type of training, but it goes unused because either no one has any idea it’s there, or they just don’t have their own growth mindset in place.
7. What steps do you take to identify timely topics of relevance and resonance with your audience?
This is an easy one. Set up your blog feeds, custom Twitter lists and manage your LinkedIn connections. Everything you need is in the firehose of social, but you need to put quite a bit of effort into creating a feed that works for you and not against you. Find your trusted sources along with the folks who inspire you and spend 10 minutes a day with them. This will change your life.
“Find your trusted sources along with the folks who inspire you and spend 10 minutes a day with them. This will change your life.” — Jason Miller
8. Where do you see LinkedIn in five years?
Having worked at LinkedIn for more than five years and watching it grow from very little engagement or importance to the B2B world to arguably the hottest platform on the planet, I knew it would get there. That being said, what does it look like in five years? I have no idea, but if I had to guess I think it will be largely voice-activated/powered and AI will bring the personalization to a new level. Maybe LinkedIn even becomes a virtual assistant for your professional life/networking. That’s just my personal opinion.
Rock On, Sophisticated Marketers of LinkedIn
When you approach your content with a fun mentality, the content itself will be fun. Jason is living proof of this. We could all stand to add a little more rock-n-roll to our campaigns, and his advice in this interview serves as a helpful reminder of that.
If you enjoyed reading Jason’s insights, please make sure to check out the other entries in this series:
And then, make sure to find their strategic guidance alongside our own in the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.