Most marketers focus on lead generation but it is enough? There’s another step in your marketing system that comes first: demand generation. While lead generation is a system focused on collecting contact information from potential customers, demand generation is about building brand awareness and creating demand for your products or services.
I asked lead generation expert Jeanne Hopkins to join the show and share her process of setting up a marketing campaign that generates demand and acquires customers.
Listen to this Episode:
- Why most companies struggle to develop a system for attracting leads
- The costly mistake marketers make when it comes to their website design
- How auditing is the first step new marketers should take in demand generation
- The unexpected reason why promotion is the last thing you should think about
- Why small teams should go after key objectives vs. individuals
- What marketers miss when it comes to communication and small wins
- How we set expectations along the customer journey and why they matter
- Why we need to become comfortable with video and public speaking
- SaaS Monetization – Episode 24 with Patrick Campbell
- Dan Moyle
- Dale Carnegie – Public Speaking Training
- Patrick Campbell: ProfitWell Blog
- Patrick Campbell: Price Optimization Blog
- @mvolpe – Mike Volpe on Twitter
- Sales experience for marketers book or another podcast episode
- @JeanneHopkins – Jeanne Hopkins on Twitter
- Jeanne Hopkins on LinkedIn
Louis: Bonjour, bonjour, and welcome to another episode of EveryoneHatesMarketers.com, the marketing podcast for marketers, founders, and tech people who are just sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I’m your host, Louis Grenier.
Today we’re going to talk about setting up a marketing program and a campaign to generate demand for your products and services and acquire customers. The cool kids call it demand generation. You might have heard this term a few times.
My guest has been recommended by a previous guest of mine, Patrick Campbell from Price Intelligently, and he said, “If you’re a little bit of an old-school marketer, you know exactly who she is. She’s one of the original VPs in marketing at HubSpot. She’s just a badass.”
Louis: As soon as he said that, I really wanted to talk to my guest today, but before I introduce her, I just want to read a bit of her bio, which is quite impressive.
20 plus years of experience in marketing, deep expertise in data high velocity and customer acquisition and marketing organization in Bombay’s legion programs to support global demand for high gross size companies. She’s the former VP of HubSpot, MarketingSherpa, SmartBear Software, and now Ipswitch. She’s on the advisory board of quite a few companies. She spoke at events like Marketing Prof B2B, HubSpot Inbound, MIT Entrepreneurs Forum, Social Media Today.
Basically, she’s done it all and she has more experience than most of the people I talk to in this podcast. This is an absolute pleasure to talk to you today, Jeanne Hopkins. Welcome aboard.
Jeanne: Thank you so much for having me today. That’s a pretty funny thing that Patrick said.
Louis: Yes. You are from the same city, right? You all work in Boston. Based in Boston here, there’s Price Intelligently, who do a lot of pricing software, consulting, and software. You have Drift with David Cancel, and you, as well. You seem to be a pretty tight community around Boston, right?
Jeanne: Well, it’s a small world. It’s just like anything. You bump into the same people when you’re interested in the same things, and Boston is a small town ultimately, and I definitely like all those people that you mentioned and more. It is a small community, yes.
Louis: I’ll give you some opportunity at the end to mention a few more marketers, perhaps, that are from Boston or that you know that you’d recommend. Before that, can you tell the listeners in particular why you almost didn’t come to the podcast?
Jeanne: Oh. Well, you reached out to me, and I get so much email, as you can well imagine. You asked me to schedule some time, and then I looked at what you wanted me to talk about. It was EverybodyHatesMarketers.com, and I was like, “Oh no, I thought it was only sales that hated marketers.”
I got a feeling that it was negative, so I sent you a note saying, “I don’t really want to promote negativity because I’m a firm believer in being positive that everything is an opportunity and a chance to do better.” You came back and you explained it very, very well and I appreciate that, but it just caught me at an odd moment where I just didn’t want to talk about marketing in a negative way.
Louis: Yes. You and me both. I appreciate your honesty there, and I enjoyed replying to you because I think it was the first time ever that that happened and somebody said, “You know what, no,” so it was good. It tested my outreach skills a bit.
Jeanne: You have excellent outreach skills and you’re very, very organized as far as the followup and everything. I’m very impressed with the reminders and everything to make sure that I was here at the right place at the right time.
Louis: Thanks. I’m using Calendly, which is a very good tool. I’ve learned a lot. I’m thinking back of the first emails I sent to the first guests of the podcast, and it was not the same. You probably would not have liked it.
Let’s get in the meat of the subject and marketing and demand generation in particular. Why do you think it’s so hard for companies, in general, to generate demand and acquire customers in a very systematic manner?
Jeanne: Well, I think you just hit the nail on the head that most people don’t know how to go about it in a very systematic way. Very often, companies will come up with a business plan or they’ll come up with a marketing plan, but it’s difficult to think about adjusting.
If you think about where marketing is today, it’s different than it was a year ago and it’s different than it was five years ago. Sometimes you’re dealing with organizational dynamics. In this company, at Ipswitch, it’s been around for 27 years, and that’s antique almost in any kind of software company.
There’s people that have a lot of opinions, and their opinions may have been valid five years ago, ten years ago, but the world has changed dramatically. It’s changed dramatically in how we shop. You use your phone for everything, and these are all things that we have to take into account and you have to think about it for the long term.
Louis: Surely there are things that haven’t changed, right, about people?
Jeanne: People buy, right? They’re always searching, but if you think about your consumer and when you want to buy something, what’s the first thing you do? Do you open a newspaper? Do you look at a magazine, or do you look at the Yellow Pages, which I don’t even know if you have Yellow Pages where you are? But no, you search, right? You either go to Amazon and search. Amazon if you’re going to buy a product is the number one search tool just to be able to look at comparisons, or you use the Google machine to be able to find something and you’re looking for relevance, you’re looking for reviews, you’re looking for referrals, testimonials.
You might ask people that you know and if you just think about how you buy now, even how you buy a dinner, so, “Oh, it’s 7:00. I don’t have anything to cook right now, so let’s go out to eat.” “Well, where do you want to go to eat?” “Well, what do you feel like?” “Oh, I feel like Mexican tonight, so let’s just see what’s in Burlington for Mexican and let’s look at the reviews and how many stars does it have.”
My husband and I wanted to watch a movie on Saturday night. Woohoo. Our power’s been out, so we had this massive storm–
Louis: You don’t have to feel bad about it.
Jeanne: We went to the Redbox to get a DVD, which we’ve been streaming. I know, really, it’s like how analog is that, right? Because we didn’t have any power, and so we could watch a DVD, but we didn’t have internet connection or anything.
We were looking for movies to be able to watch and so you look and see what’s available in Redbox, and then I said, “Well, how many stars does it have? What do the reviews say?” Because you don’t want to waste time. You don’t want to waste two hours of your time watching something that stinks basically. You’re not going to watch something with two out of five stars.
You’re looking for comparison. You’re looking for something that other people maybe similar to you, but you’re trying to get some relational. I think this is where things have changed now, that we’re looking for that relational experience. I feel we are a huge community and I spend time in Galway at our Galway office, and I love Galway. Galway is just absolutely amazing to me.
Louis: Galway in Ireland, yes?
Louis: Galway in Ireland?
Jeanne: Ireland, yes, yes, sorry. Galway in Ireland, yes. Every time I go there, I make sure that I take pictures, I do reviews, I load things up on TripAdvisor, because I want people to be able to feel good about the choices that are made.
It’s funny, because I do a lot of reviews for Google, as well, and it’s funny how they send me notes about, “You’ve had 3000 views of this particular thing,” which is kind of funny because you know what it is? It’s a fish place in New Bedford, Massachusetts. I took a picture of the outside of it.
That’s marketing. This is where it is personal. It’s one-on-one, and I think that the biggest challenge is we have a tendency as marketers or as business people to think in aggregate. We’re looking at these meta conversations, and in reality, it’s a one-on-one conversation.
What I find is that many businesses and I ask this, I say this, “When was the last time you looked up your company on Google? When was the last time you looked it up? Have you moved? Has the telephone number changed? Has your website changed?”
People don’t think about the absolute basics. Many people that think they know marketing, what’s the first thing that they do? They change the website. They decide, “We need a new website. This old one is ugly.” But instead of looking, how is it working for you? How many visits are you getting? Where are those visits coming from? How are they entering the website? What pages are they looking at? Instead of looking at how it works for you, they look at the design.
This is where I think the big difference is between the demand generation marketer and what I will call an arts and crafts marketer. Arts and crafts is, “Let’s change the color. Let’s change the logo. Let’s change, let’s change, let’s change,” but they have absolutely no idea of what’s working.
I recommend that when somebody starts a new marketing position, the first thing that they need to look at is, what do you have for a database? What do you have? How recent are these things? What actions have people taken? Have you validated these emails? Are they double opt-in? How do you communicate with them? How frequently?
Once you start looking at the messaging in your organization, you could find the tech support is communicating in this way, sales is communicating in this way, somebody else is communicating in another way with your customers, and they’re getting 58 emails from you in a given week.
I know from this company that the sales organization was actually doing what I’m going to call “customer marketing”. I’m putting bunny ears around that, because their idea of customer marketing was spamming, blasting emails, promotional emails that did not include an unsubscribe, using third-party email things, and it was all promotional-driven, like, “Buy now, get 60% off.”
Well, you know what? Now I have in my database of all of our customers, we have 28,000 customers. Of all my customers, only 62% will receive promotional messaging from us, 62%, because sales did such an awesome job of making sure that they didn’t want to hear from us at all. The only email that I can do with those other 38% are operational emails, like you’re up for renewal or something. That’s a shame because your customers should be the most important focus for you as an organization.
I think what ends up happening with many companies is I think about there’s like three circles. The most important circle in my mind is employees. Do the employees know what’s going on? Are you on one page? Does everybody understand when a product launch is, where the website is, what information you have to work on, who do you have to contact, all that? Employees need to know everything.
The next one is customers. Your customers need to know things before your prospects know things. If you’re going to have a price increase or a product launch or you have partners, alliances that you’re dealing with, your employees need to know first of all, and it’s remarkable to me how many times employees don’t know anything of what’s going on until they see a Google alert in their inbox.
The last one is prospects. You and I are talking about demand generation, but really prospects are the endgame. They’re going to be your biggest audience. Remember what I said, 62% of customers will receive messages from Ipswitch? 98% of my prospects will because they haven’t been burnt out by the customer marketing that was going on.
Actually, in this organization, when I joined, it was a bit of a shadow marketing organization going on. In sales or field marketing, the SDRs, the customer marketing were all being focused in the sales organization. I’m sure there were good rationale for it at the time, but you didn’t have a calendar. You didn’t have cadence and you didn’t have solid communication of your messaging.
Jeanne: That was way more than you wanted to hear.
Louis: That’s beautiful because you’ve been able to introduce a few things, a few questions I wanted to ask that you already answered. I think that the first step into actually creating a strong demand generation strategy is to audit, as you said, what you have right now.
Let’s say the scenario to just start it, which is I’m a new marketer in this place, and I want to make an impact. I want to setup things right. You would actually audit your list, the amount of time that you receive emails, especially during signup because you might be receiving too many. Am I correct in assuming this is the first step?
Jeanne: At the very least, you do want to audit your database. You want to find out what’s viable, what’s not viable. If you’re using any kind of a marketing automation plan or program, you’re definitely going to be paying for names that are no longer viable.
One thing that we talked a lot about at HubSpot is that at any given month, 2-5% of your list, this is in a month, deprecate. By the end of the year, you could’ve lost anywhere from 25 to 60% of your list, which makes it all the more important to keep filling up the top of the funnel, converting those visitors into somebody that is either completing a form or willing to give you some contact information so that you can follow up with them. That is problematic for many organizations.
Louis: Once you know what’s going on, once you have a picture of what’s happening, what do you advise to do next?
Jeanne: Well, I think, first of all, you need to know what your tech stack is because a lot of times, depending on organizationally where you are, when I came here, I wanted to find out there were the dollars being spent. You want to do a complete audit of all your expenses. I had the team go through a tech stack, and you would be surprised how many things we were paying for that we were no longer using, and then I wanted to be able to validate the expense line item on every single thing that we were doing.
In addition, you want to take a look at your team, because what happens is a lot of people hire people to do one job that’s like, “I’m going to do just email or I’m just going to do events,” and really, email supports events, okay? Events can be webinars. They can be live in-person events. They can be all sorts of things, so how is email working with events?
Instead of having all these single individual contributors, you want to put people into small teams and make them responsible for generating leads, increasing revenue, making sure that your team understands that you’re there specifically not just to show up and have free wifi and coffee. You’re there to be able to generate revenue pipeline for your business.
I think a lot of marketers forget that that’s what they’re supposed to be there for. When you think about the four Ps, everybody thinks about place, how do you sell it, product, price. I’ve worked with Price Intelligently for three companies. They’re great and they’re awesome in so many ways, but everybody only thinks about the P that equals promotion.
That is the last thing that you should be thinking about. Anybody can promote. Anybody. Anybody can spend money. Any marketer can spend money. The correct thing to do is, are you spending it effectively? What are you doing? What is your cost per lead? What is your cost per opportunity? What is your cost per customer? You’ve got to think about it in a fully-loaded way to be able to make sure that you’re gaining efficiencies across the board.
You asked me again, where do you start? I start with the database. I start to see what my tech stack is. I start to see what have we texted, what have we not tested, because sometimes when you’re in an organization, like when I was at HubSpot, I had different team members that were doing the same thing. They were on different teams, but they all thought that they were the most brilliant people on the planet, which they were for the most part, but I don’t need three people, two people doing the same thing, especially since it had already been done before, maybe the year before, and they just didn’t know. Some of this is how do you onboard people, how do you make people feel responsible.
I was talking to one of my team members here today, and I was saying, “Why was this decision made? Who thought that this was a good idea?” She’s talking about rolling back some improvements to the website. The person that was responsible for the digital component wanted to put a forcing function into something that it did not require. Instead of making it easy to use, he made it hard to use. She’s been thinking about it going, “We don’t need this. Let’s just roll it back.” I’m like, “Why didn’t you do that, to begin with?” She said, “Because he was so adamant. He was a bit of a bully.”
Marketers need to own their own things. They need to feel responsible, but you also as a head marketer, you need to have confidence in your team. You need to know that your team knows what the heck they’re talking about and you need to listen to them.
Louis: You said something quite interesting. You said that to make people feel responsible, you’re making them do one thing, such as, “You’re going to do email.” You give them an objective. You put them in a team that is directly related to an objective, such as converting visitors into leads or converting leads into customers, right?
Louis: The first step that you mentioned seemed really to be around auditing what you currently have. You talked about auditing your tool stack, auditing the way you communicate with people, auditing your team and how they organize.
Louis: You would advise actually to organize your teams by key objectives alongside the funnel, alongside the journey, right?
Jeanne: Yep. That’s one way of doing it. Also, you need to, I believe, give team members chances to be successful in different areas. I like having a meeting where we’re sharing the information of where are we as far as lead flow is concerned.
Today I have a weekly meeting with a sales organization where we talk about lead flow and opportunity creation and pipeline, and to have more people understand that. It’s a rare organization. I have never joined, other than HubSpot, I’ve always been responsible for transforming the way we report.
You had asked me the question once about what can you do differently. I think that marketers are the worst on marketing themselves. Instead of getting in front of it, they’re always reacting, reacting, reacting, reacting to a demand from sales, reacting to demand from tech, reacting to a demand from IT.
Instead, what we need to realize is that we own it. Marketing is the hub of every business. We touch every aspect of the business. We spend the most money, and so we have to prove that we’re valued and we’re being cost-effective, and yet many marketers, they don’t talk about the increase in blog subscribers. They don’t talk about the wins, because every day is a win, really.
It’s not a matter of tooting your own horn, but as a leader, my responsibility is to say, “Hey, look at what Junco achieved on the Japanese blog. She increased the visitors to the Japanese blog in February by 43%,” which is true. It’s amazing, and she’s responsible for translating the blog, updating the blog, but look at her. Look at how amazing that is, and it makes everybody feel good about what they’re doing.
Louis: That’s a fantastic tip, and that’s something I’m telling my team as well is about over communicating, over communicating, and to be proud of those numbers because if you don’t communicate, people outside of marketing won’t have a clue what you’re doing. They think that you’re not doing your job. I feel that sometimes it’s really about communication rather than actually doing the work.
Let’s take a scenario where you joined a company that is quite broken in terms of marketing, and you feel that there’s no proper demand generation program in place and that you really have almost to start to scratch. I know it’s a very broad question and perhaps you can help me to narrow it, but how do you like to typically set up a demand generation program that would systematically bring visitors, leads, customers?
Jeanne: A lot of times you talk about the funnel top down, visits into leads into MQLs into sales accepted leads into opportunities, but I believe now that it’s more of a horizontal, where every part of the customer journey from visitor to customer and then back again is owned by both sales and marketing. There is no handoff from marketing to sales. Talking to sales and taking a look at what is the source of their customer acquisition, what are you looking at.
When I joined, I look at data for MQL creation, and you look at MQLs and the company was spending $100,000 a month on pay per click.
Louis: MQL stands for marketing qualified leads.
Jeanne: Qualified leads, yes. In many organizations, it translates to a lead that would be for a free trial, an evaluation, demo, contact sales, get a quote, so higher value leads. A lead could be translated into let’s call it an inquiry, somebody that eBook, maybe a blog subscriber, somebody, a webinar registrant, something like that.
For it to get to an MQL, the MQL gets rotated to the sales organization. The sales organization is responsible for following up on that particular lead, and either disqualifying it or accepting it and agreeing to work on it, or rather than straight disqualification could be ABC at ABC.com, but what we’ve done is we send the license key for a free trial to their email address. We ask for a legitimate email address, and so we’ve been able to improve the quality of the site.
One thing that I would say is that you need to look at your website when you join the company to find out how leads come into the system, and it’s a good way to download a trial, download a contact sales to see how quickly sales follow up on their leads, to see what the nurture path is because if you’ve asked for a free trial, “Thank you very much. Here’s your evaluation license,” then you should get something in a couple days, “How’s it going? Blah blah blah,” and then you have a regular five or six just brief little one paragraph reminders that follow up on that evaluation or free trial request.
If people don’t know how it’s working and you’re trying to setup this demand generation, you want to figure out where’s it leaking. If you know, for example, you can look at standard numbers that you’re getting 100,000 visits to your website. For us at Ipswitch, we have seven different websites, language specific. The language is French, German, Japanese, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, and I’m missing–
Jeanne: Yes, good old English. We also have associated blogs with that. What we try to do is find out where are people coming in, what is the source of this, and then how are they converting. When I mentioned spending $100,000 a month trying to generate requests for evals, evaluations of the software, yes, we were generating them but further down the funnel, they were not turning into opportunities or customers.
When you start doing the math, and the customer acquisition was around $28,000 for these evals turning into customers and for a product that costs $5,000, not a good return on investment. Those are some of the things that you really have to look at, and it does take time. It takes time to figure out where these things are going and particularly when you have a number of moving parts, but it’s pretty simple to look for the low-hanging fruit.
This disqualification, what used to happen here is the sales organization, we generate the MQLs and the sales organization is 100% fed by marketing, which is not normal. That’s just not a normal thing. Usually, in some capacity, a sales organization is somewhat responsible for picking up the phone and trying to generate business on their own.
It’s not unusual, but it’s 100% marketing fed, so when they are asking, they want more leads, they want more leads, well, I go back to them and I looked at, “Okay, you’re disqualifying leads.” They were cherry picking. They weren’t even contacting these MQLs. Somebody’s asking for an eval. They’re asking to get a quote. They’re asking for contact sales.
55% of those MQLs, highly valued MQLs, were being disqualified by the sales organization for two reasons. Unable to contact, and no interest. You’re saying to yourself, “How could 55%, over half of these MQLs that you’ve agreed have value, you haven’t even touched them. You haven’t talked to them. You’re just disqualifying them.”
Start to look at the way things are being handled. They were cherry picking based on what they perceived to be the customer, instead of even just picking up the phone and contacting them. We have 10 form fields with a telephone number and everything. Unable to contact? Really? We’ve started using LinkedIn Sales Navigator here so that people have an easier ability to be able to track these people and be able to work the company, not just the lead.
It’s been interesting, and now with our newer system that we’re working on right now, our disqualification rate is down around 21%. 20% I totally get. I get 20% being disqualified for whatever reason, people just poking around, that sort of thing, but 55% for one of two reasons was just ridiculous.
Try to figure out how are leads being disqualified, how are they being nurtured, what are you doing with those disqualified leads. What I’ve done is I’ve taken all those disqualified leads for the high level of disqualifications for a year and I’m rotating them through BDRs, business development reps, so that they can follow up.
Now, granted, one thing that people don’t realize is that when a lead comes through, particularly in IT, we’re selling to IT managers, sysadmins. If somebody is asking for an eval or a contact sales or something, you need to get back to them within five minutes. After five minutes, it depreciates to such a level that if you wait 24 hours to contact them, that IT person is onto something else.
Louis: Yeah. I had this experience. I’ve been shopping around a few times, and I’m very impatient, so I like to speak.
Louis: I’m not an IT person, but I did that a few times. I’m looking for a marketing platform to do something, and I’m shopping around, I’m contacting two or three people, companies, and straight away if I don’t get an answer within five, ten minutes, I feel that they don’t really care. The first person that contacts me usually I would spend a crazy amount of time on.
Jeanne: Yep, and that’s totally accurate, that you’re not unusual in terms of your impatience. If someone has a $5000 headache, you want to provide them with a $5000 aspirin as soon as possible. You don’t want to wait a day or two days.
That gets back to the one-on-one, the human component of it. You’re impatient, but I think salespeople think that as a prospect, think about it. If you had to wait a day or two days or seven days, how do you think that prospect’s going to feel? Is this how long it’s going to take me to get support? I can’t even get an answer. I’m telling them that I’m interested. I’m asking to get a quote. I’m contacting sales. Now, is this how this company operates? Again, that becomes the setting expectations and it becomes the horizontal component of the customer journey.
Louis: Let’s say you identify from the work you’ve been doing that you have an acquisition problem, that your retention is pretty good, but you’re not generating enough leads, you’re not generating enough visitors to your website. What are the typical solutions to this headache?
Jeanne: It’s nothing that can be fixed overnight. I wish there was. I wish there was a silver bullet and I wish I could tell you if you buy this that all your problems will be over with. It is a long, slow slog.
For us, as an example, a couple of team members spent the past 10 months working on increasing, getting the number of reviews of our product to 150. Once we got to 150 reviews of our product, Google started putting the star rating in our listing for searching, if somebody’s searching for network monitoring, secure file transfer. So that gives us more visibility, pushes up our ranking so that we’re higher up.
You can’t buy your way out of this. Most companies that you’re probably talking to is probably B2B and software, some sort of SaaS environment. Consumer product stuff can spend a ton of money, but what we have to do as most marketers is you have to try to grow your business and keep it cost effective. It’s not easy to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on things because the board is going to ask you, your company board of directors is going to say, “What are you getting for this money?”
I liken it to a little bit of farming, right? You have to plow the field. You have to figure out is this going to work, are we going to have enough sun, are we going to have enough water, are we going to be able to do this, seed, but you also have to look at what are people interested in, what is the kind of content that people may be interested in when they’re searching for you.
This takes time, and unfortunately for many organizations, they look at marketing as one shot in the dark. “We’re going to send an email,” boom, and then they don’t have a cadence. They don’t have a plan to be able to say, “We’re going to talk to our customers twice a month and we’re going to talk to existing customers. We’re going to talk to our prospects once a week,” and being able to build out that cadence and, “Here’s a new customer. Here’s the 13 touch email nurture that we’re going to do, and then we’re
going to do a followup here. This is how we’re going to address things on Facebook.”
We’ve actually been pulling money out of Google AdWords because it’s nonproductive and we’ve been doing things by if they come to us on our particular website, we will start stalking them on Facebook. We’ll go to other places and we’re getting lower costs, lower costs for doing that, and higher return because most people are smart and they don’t click on AdWords. The only people that are making money with Google AdWords is Google.
There’s a lot of levers that you can pull, and I can’t tell you, “This is the one, this is your playbook and it’s going to work for your particular business,” because it’s somewhat dependent upon stage of the company, somewhat dependent upon who you’re trying to sell with, somewhat dependent on how successful your sales organization can be. Marketing is a little bit of an art, and that’s where the experience component comes in, but most people that are on the team are usually willing to learn.
Louis: Why do you think cadence is so important, whatever the channels you are using to acquire visitors or prospects or leads?
Jeanne: Well, think about it. I’m sure you probably get some sort of email or you sign up for a loyalty card and then they’re really interested in you for like a minute and then they forget about you. If you’re buying something, anything, you want to know that there is some sort of a relationship there, I believe.
In any organization, you’re going to have your fan club. At HubSpot, the salespeople didn’t sell to everybody that had a pulse, not everybody that could fog a mirror, right? They wanted to be successful. They didn’t want this customer to churn, so there were lots of people that loved HubSpot and we called them the fan club, fangirls, fanboys.
They were enormously helpful in terms of sharing content, sharing information, and getting that amplification of messaging, but not everybody was going to be a customer. You wanted something bigger. I think you have to be able to define yourself because you want an ideal customer. You want a customer that’s not going to churn, right? You don’t want to spend all that time and effort of bringing a new customer on only to have them leave.
This is where the onboarding process, the customer notification, making sure that they’re part of something bigger, and this is where having regular messaging across … This is the cadence, right? Many marketers, and trying to get ahead of the curve, a marketer should be thinking about the next quarter, the next year. We all have events like product launches and big events that you have to be at and that sort of thing, but a lot of times marketers just end up reacting. “Okay, we have no leads. The sales
organization doesn’t have any leads, so let’s send an email.”
In reality, what you should be doing is thinking about it every single week. If you’re going to send an email, you’re not going to send it to 100,000 people. You should send something to a targeted list and then the sales team should know that you’re going to send this and then they do a call blitz to be able to follow up. If it’s existing customers, how are you tied? How are you aligned with the sales organization or the renewal team in terms of being successful?
When I talk about cadence, it’s the plan. It’s what are you trying to achieve without inundating your audience because you don’t want to have 38% of your customers not wanting to hear from you because all you ever did was just offer discounts. You want to have some value there, right?
Louis: Thanks for your honesty there. I like this idea of the fan club in HubSpot, and the reason why I like it is I think a lot of marketers are also very focused on trying to acquire the right type of customers, but on the other hand, they forget that as you said, some people who are not necessarily the ideal customer can help you find this ideal customer. I have colleagues, friends, family members, might–
Jeanne: Referrals. Right.
Louis: Exactly. This is why when you think about acquisition and really acquiring visitors to your website and writing on the blog and starting your podcast or YouTube channel, it’s not necessarily always about your ideal customer but about who can we reach out to that can influence my ideal customers, right?
Jeanne: Yeah, and you bring up a good point because not everybody can be found in the same way. There’s people that listen to podcasts. There’s people that like to watch videos. There’s people that like Instagram. There’s people that like Twitter. They like LinkedIn. It depends on how the messaging, how that you’re getting found.
What ends up happening is many marketers, they try to boil the ocean right out of the gate. They just figure they can do everything, and you can’t, so try doing one thing well. This podcast can be repurposed as a blog post. You could transcribe this conversation and post it as content on your website. Think about those things that you can do. Do fewer but better things rather than just a whole lot of activity, just a whole bunch of noise.
There’s a lot of automated functionality that you can use out there to help you with your social media challenges that are relatively low cost, but what I see is people, they say, “We’re going to start a blog. We’re going to do a YouTube thing. We’re going to do this. We’re going to do that,” and start somewhere and then start to inform these other channels.
Think about recycling. There is no reason, there is no reason that you can’t repurpose things seven different ways. Unfortunately, people don’t think that. They think everything needs to be brand spanking new and unique, and in reality, no one has that much time or that much budget to be able to do that.
Louis: Apart from Gary Vee, perhaps. I’ve done this mistake so many times in the past as a junior marketer, so many times, trying to boil the ocean. You want to look good with your boss, so you try to do everything. The second thing you mentioned, making yourself look good by trying to come up with something new that nobody has ever done before. You drain yourself and you just burn out at the end, and I’ve done it so I know.
This is why, you mentioned this podcast, it’s just a side project for me, but I’ve learned this very well. It’s like I do one thing, I interview someone every week, or some weeks I have more than one. I have a backlog and I just do a podcast, and I have a team that also transcribes the piece and puts it on the blog. That’s it. I’m not planning to do more, and I’m fine with it because I know that this is my limit that I do outside of my full-time job. I’m very happy with it. It’s now been almost a year and it’s paying off.
Louis: This is a good lesson for people, especially junior marketers I feel that try to do everything. Yes, focus on one thing, do it well, and then you can recycle it. You can repurpose it, as you mentioned.
Louis: From your experience, what are the key way to recycle let’s say blog posts and that kind
of stuff? What have you done in the past that worked well?
Jeanne: Well, something that is pretty easy is that you can aggregate content. Something that I started at MarketingSherpa, did it at HubSpot, I continued to use this, is that doing a chart of the week. The reason for doing a chart of the week is you can take data using your own template, your own colors, your own whatever and put your logo on it. You put the source of the information, so the source could be whatever, but you colorize it to your colors. You can post it in the blog. It becomes something that if you build a deck, or you can also post the individual slide to Slideshare because people are always looking for data to be able to support their conversation.
If you’re not following eMarketer, that’s how they do it. They aggregate all this content. They repurpose it into their own colors of black and red, and they post it. That’s what they do every single day. Another aggregator of content, look at USA Today, has a chart and every single newspaper that you could take that particular content and use it.
Then, at some point, if you use it in your blog, you can aggregate all those individual charts into an eBook. Pick the content as another blog post. If you write 10 blog posts about X, whatever the content is, you can take those 10 blog posts. You can write an overview blog post that links back to all those 10 posts. You can build an eBook out of it. You can convert it into a PowerPoint slide and post it on Slide Share. You could do a voiceover on it and post it to YouTube. We just had four purposes of using something that you’re just aggregating content.
Now, a lot of times, industries, let’s just say finance as an example. I know this great guy, Dan Moyle, who works for American Mortgage, and he’s a big HubSpot person. He’s a customer. He does a great job of talking about what’s going on in their industry and he writes about it on the blog, and now he’s an authority that he gets tapped by national media because he’s been out there for so long and he has that credibility.
Those are some of the things that you can do that are very easy, but again, it takes a certain degree of time and you have to say to yourself, “I’m going to do a chart. If I’m going to do a chart of the week on whatever my industry thing is,” you’ve got to have somebody doing it. It’s an easy thing to delegate to an intern. They can pretty much do that pretty easily. You can even send the intern or whoever you have, a junior person, “This is the kind of content that I want.”
Infographics. Infographics are constantly used. I’m the daughter of a newspaperman, okay? My dad was the editor of the city newspaper in western Massachusetts. I learned how to find a story, and I think maybe that curiosity, maybe from a marketing view of the world when you’re creating content, people are always looking for that silver bullet.
I read a lot of blogs. I’m like, “What the heck are they trying to say? How am I going to get better from this?” I think that if you could figure out a way to be able to inform your audience, be able to inform your customers so that they take away some nugget of truth, they take away something that adds value to them, that makes them look smart in their company or to their board or to their supervisor, that’s a win.
Louis: I can definitely vouch for what you just said. Good marketing takes time I believe, and I think that’s not something people say that much because as you said, they are looking for the silver bullet. At the time of when we are recording this episode right now, it’s been 11 months that my podcast is live. We’re releasing one episode every week since then. Only now, only in the last month or so am I starting to receive emails inviting me to speak on webinars and other podcasts and stuff.
Louis: Weird me promoting it, right? The point is that it took 10 months to just get there, and it took a lot of work, but now am I starting to see momentum building. I’m not trying to just make myself look good when I say that, just as an example to show the principle.
Jeanne: But it’s true. That’s the cadence and the constant communication. You’ve done it once per week. I think that what ends up happening is people lose faith. I’ve had to say over and over again, “This is not going to happen overnight.” It’s just not going to happen, so you have to be able to be in it for the long game and a lot of people give up.
Jeanne: I use the concept of a newsletter. Any marketing person has to do a newsletter at some point in their career, and I say the first time that you do a newsletter, you’ve got HR there, you’ve got engineering there, you’ve got marketing there, sales, everybody, and you have 37 stories for your first newsletter that goes out to all your employees.
You’re going to do it monthly, right? That’s what you say. The first one, 37, whose babies were born, what birthdays, who joined the company, blah blah blah. The second one that you do has about 17 stories because the people that you reached out, they don’t have the time anymore. The third one has maybe five stories in it, then nobody ever does the fourth monthly one because they’ve lost the momentum, they’ve lost the internal interest.
What they should’ve done is said, “Okay, these are things that we can do that are easily replicated across the individual months.” I spend time because I see a lot of stuff cross my desk, and when I see stuff, I send it to our internal newsletter thing saying, “We should highlight this. We should talk about this. We should be doing this.”
When you start a newsletter, you should say to yourself, “If you’ve got 37 stories, there’s some things that are evergreen.” If you look at the rule of three, you can talk about a product, you can talk about something fun, and you can talk about something that’s upcoming. Anybody can do that. Absolutely. You could do a weekly email on that. If people did that, if marketers focused on the three, the rule of three, they would be much more successful than trying to boil the ocean and have 37 things that are nothing
more than distractions.
Louis: Well, I think you’ve summarized the last 40 minutes or so pretty well, so let’s move on to the next and the last three questions.
Louis: What do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years, even 50 years?
Jeanne: They need to feel comfortable with video and doing podcasts like this. They need to be comfortable speaking. Marketers increasingly are going to be in front of boards. They’re going to be in front of their employee situation. Taking Toastmasters classes or Dale Carnegie or something like that, learning how to speak and be comfortable speaking in a wide variety of settings.
It doesn’t mean that you have to be aggressive and it doesn’t have to mean that you have to be super knowledgeable but to be able to take your message as an organization and be able to distill it and present it in a way that makes sense for the organization I think is more critical than anything. It boils really down to communication.
I can’t tell you what’s going to happen in 10 years, because things that we’re using right now with artificial intelligence, there’s going to be a lot of things, jobs that are going to become automated. I think I was at a B2B conference two weeks ago in Arizona, and there was a great guy talking about where things are going to be going. Jobs like Salesforce admins, the operations people, that’s going to be automated, but what’s never going to be automated is creativity. How do you explore your creativity, not in an arts and crafts way, but how do you approach solutions?
At grad school, I loved the statistics class because it was mathematical, but you had to inform what the results were. You had basically a heuristic, but what did it mean? I think the creative solution to that is what does it mean? What does it mean today? What might it mean tomorrow, and how can you better inform this decision that you’re looking to make? I think creativity and your ability to be able to communicate effectively becomes incredibly important.
Louis: What are the top three resources you’d recommend listeners?
Jeanne: Listen to this podcast. It’s pretty awesome. Patrick Campbell’s blog, I would definitely subscribe to his blog and get his content because he is so remarkably insightful. Follow Mike Volpe. I work for Mike at HubSpot and Mike Volpe is at Cybereason right now, and follow him on LinkedIn, and anything that you can learn from them.
I think one thing that marketers need to think about is if you don’t have any sales experience, you should look for a way to get some sales experience because until you’ve walked in the shoes of a salesperson and understood the need for quota and how hard it is to do their job, you’ve got to figure out how to get some of that kind of experience because it’s real easy for marketers to say that salespeople are lazy. It’s real easy for salespeople to say, “The leads stink and I need more of them,” but you need to have a degree of empathy to be able to understand how hard their jobs are.
Louis: And in general, empathy for anyone, really, particularly putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and your team’s shoes, et cetera.
Jeanne: That’s true, that’s true.
Louis: Jeanne, you’ve been absolutely amazing. You were able to answer my questions without me asking the questions, which is rare, so that’s cool.
Jeanne: Well, you prepped me. You sent them to me over and over again. I read them on my phone and I read them on my laptop. Yes, I was prepped, man.
Louis: Where can our listeners connect with you and learn more from you?
Louis: All right, Jeanne. Thank you so much.
Jeanne: Thank you.
How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers
Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.