Behind B2B #22: Jason Miller

  • July 26, 2023
  • Reading time: 4 min

For the 22nd instalment of Behind B2B, we’re speaking to Jason Miller, Head of Brand and Content at Tyk.


B2B marketer by day, music photographer by night, Jason Miller balances his love of rock’n’roll with a zealous approach to marketing. Ahead of the release of his new bookSecond Skin – A Metalhead’s Journey of Becoming’, Jason emerges from the digital mosh pit to talk about the importance of pushing the boundaries, and what marketing trope keeps him up at night.

How did you end up in the world of B2B? What long and winding (or short!) path did you take to get here?

I think for most B2B marketers, we all sort of fall into it. I started off in the music business, working at Sony Music for 10 years, doing artist development. My goal was to be this big executive in New York City signing bands – of course, that never happened! After watching the industry shift to digital, I made the move from B2C to B2B, mainly due to the networking path I had gone through.

I was very interested in the start-up space, but I needed a bit of a buffer between that landscape and Sony Music – a massive corporation. So, I found this little company called Zoomerang who took a chance on me as a B2C marketer in a B2B world.

I was only there for about a year and a half before going over to Marketo, and then onto a five-year stint at LinkedIn. Now, I’ve gone back to the start-up space at Tyk, who do API management. It’s a complicated topic but we have a massive story to tell, with a great product, great founders, and the freedom to try anything and be creative.

I thrive in places that are essentially the underdog. I like the challenge – I’ve never been in a company that’s been number one. Sony was the underdog to Universal. Zoomerang was the underdog to SurveyMonkey. Marketo to Eloqua. LinkedIn to Google and Facebook. So, I like to go to places where there’s a massive challenge – and the opportunity to make some noise!

What did you actually want to be when you were younger? And how do you think that this has shaped your work today?

My first record was Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It, and I still remember the joy of hearing it for the first time. So, I wanted to be a rockstar: not like playing huge arenas, but playing small clubs. Just enough of a fanbase to get me to the next gig. I was in a band for a while in my late teens, and we signed a record deal, did a small tour, recorded a couple of albums. Then you know, it never really worked out.

But it’s interesting because, with 10 years at Sony doing artist development and working with a bunch of bands (and living vicariously through them), I thought that time was all lost because I wasn’t really learning anything. It was just kind of a big party.

But what I actually learned was that these experiences differentiated me in the way that I approached B2B marketing. I brought in this much needed entertainment element – because I didn’t know any better when I first started. I now think that’s what set me apart: the fact that I have so many stories and anecdotes and different analogies from the music biz to apply to very complex B2B marketing scenarios. That’s sort of what I’ve found to be my differentiator.

What’s the best – or perhaps most interesting – B2B campaign, content or other work you’ve been involved in, during your career?

My team started the Sophisticated Marketer at LinkedIn, which included the launch of the podcast. We won a bunch of awards for it, so I’d say that was probably the biggest one, and certainly the one I’m most proud of.

There was also the time, while working at ActiveCampaign, we got Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden to do the keynote of a virtual stream during COVID! It was interesting because he’s an entrepreneur, an Olympic fencer, a pilot, a brewmaster – and of course, a rockstar. So, he gave this really unique, inspiring talk. We actually made it into this whole talk show format. I hired an ex-writer from SNL to write me a monologue, dressed up this whole place with green screens and like a million cameras and we did it live all live. We even had a musical guest!

What’s the best B2B campaign of all time, in your eyes? And what does ‘great’ B2B marketing look like, to you?

I’ll be honest with you: trying to name remarkable B2B marketing campaigns is incredibly challenging because I just don’t think they’re out there. I think every time a company tries to take a big risk, they sort of fall into the safe area. Too many opinions can distil the idea down.

I think that agencies sometimes get a bad rap because folks don’t know how to partner effectively with them. Every campaign I’ve ever done, I’ve had a distinct idea and vision that I could not bring to life myself, so I had to find the right agency to help me. And if you push that agency, and you align them, and you take a chance, that’s the only way to do it properly.

Over the past few years, there’s been this trend that is frightening to me – in fact it keeps me up at night – of moving all creative in house. I think it’s a disastrous move. I think you can move maybe design and a bit of copywriting, sure, but I’ve not seen anyone effectively execute the big ideas without some outside help.

We’re giving you the power to axe one B2B marketing cliché forever. What would you go for?

The one that I’m seeing right now on LinkedIn that just makes me bonkers is when people create posts that say ‘if you’d like this offer, comment with an emoji or a hell yeah below’. And it’s like: just either give me a form, or give me the ungated content. I don’t want to jump through hoops or be in a laundry list of other people begging you for this content. It’s like public shaming. It’s so silly.

LinkedIn has become a bit of a self-fulfilling echo chamber of people telling you that you’re doing great. But ultimately when I see someone who shares a link from an article and it gets a lot of engagement, it’s because it’s interesting. So, I just feel like there’s this constant chase to build a shortcut to engagement instead of putting in the work.

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