SaaS Content Marketing: Why Education is a Powerful Approach

My guest today is Shayla Price, a content and email marketing consultant for SaaS businesses. She has worked with companies such as Leadpages, Agorapulse, Hostgator.com, Kissmetrics, Shopify Plus and more. She has published many articles in her work and is also involved with aspiring women in the SaaS marketing community to help them excel. In this episode you’re going to learn why education and not hardcore sales is the best way to do content marketing, especially in SaaS. Listen in as Shayla explains the best place to do customer research, how to create the right kind of content to educate people, and how to check the results and bring your business to the next level.

Listen to this Episode:

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • Shayla’s professional background from law to marketing
  • Email campaign frequency
  • Recent marketing campaigns successes and failures
  • Switching from selling to educating
  • Customer empathy and learning styles
  • Observing pain points and creating a campaign to solve it

Resources:

Full Transcript:

Louis: Shayla, thank you so much for being on the show. I’ve read a lot about you, I think you have a very interesting story that I will ask you about in the next few minutes. I want to dig in straightaway into a marketing question that I usually ask people. If you have to choose one single marketing tactic that was effective time and time again in your industry, mostly SaaS, what would it be?

Shayla: I think one of the best marketing tactics is really to focus on distribution, write the content, do what’s necessary to get your audience interested, but also focus on how and who is going to see it. Start writing content for yourself, write content for your audience, and that starts with having a wide distribution so people can know that you exist.

Louis: I think that’s a mistake that a lot of people will do, they will spend a lot of time and resources in creating the best content possible and then when it comes to promoting it, they actually don’t do much of it.

Shayla: Right, they leave it to chance. Sometimes we also focus on just what we know, the channels that we go best to. That may be your email marketing or that may be that go to Facebook, on Twitter channel you go to. But there’s other opportunities and you focus where the customer is at, that’s where you need to be and that’s where your content needs to be rolling and getting the attention of your audience.

Louis: Yeah, that makes sense. To explain to the listeners who you are and what you do, you’re a consultant for SaaS businesses in particular and you specialize in content and email marketing. Your CV is quite nice, I would say, you work with SaaS businesses like LeadPages, HostGator, Kissmetrics, Shopify, you wrote many articles for ConversionXL, Drift, LeadPages as well. You’ve really done a lot in the field and you specialize quite well in one particular industry which is nice.

There is something that I’ve noticed while looking at your LinkedIn profile and digging a little bit more into you is that you’re really involved in helping other women to be inspired and to be involved in the community, to help their career. You are also helping victims of domestic violence before which is very, very nice, I think, to do. Before all of that, before being a consultant for SaaS businesses, where did you come from and why are you so driven in your day to day?

Shayla: I come from the nonprofit and the legal world, I’m a barred attorney in two states here. I started off as a council, helping women with domestic violence issues and also just learning what I needed to do because I never really wanted to be a practicing attorney that much. My reason for going to law school was really to get those critical thinking and analytical skills so that I can be a well-rounded individual in the nonprofit industry.

I was, still am, big on community service, volunteering and helping people, that was one of the skills that I really saw that was necessary in order to work the lanes of nonprofit. I did that but it kept going back to marketing. People will always want information about how to get their brand out there, information about where do I go to do X,Y and Z if I have a customer, it was just natural to go into business and figure out how I can help companies.

It all started with the post on Kissmetrics, I saw that they needed a writer and I was like, “What is this?” I didn’t even know what SaaS or tech was. I just decided to say, “Hey, if I’m gonna get barred, to become an attorney, I think I’m good enough to write about this industry as well.”

Louis: When was that?

Shayla: It’s about three or so years ago, I think.

Louis: You learned your craft in three years, obviously you don’t know everything, nobody does but you’ve learned quite a lot in the last three years. But I’m curious, why did you get into nonprofit in the first place before all of that, what was the drive behind it?

Shayla: I was started as a kid, my parents instilled in me a lot about just giving back. I volunteered when I was younger like the homeless shelter, just food banks, that was always just part of me and I thought why not of this industry. It was something that was dear and near to my heart and I thought that’s what my path was going to be. I would do it in high school and college, I will always be volunteering, I was like, “Maybe I should be the volunteer manager on the other side, maybe I should move up the ranks in it.” It didn’t work out like that but I continued to volunteer in my spare time but just doing it on my own terms.

Louis: That’s very nice of you to do that and I think more people should do it, obviously. Going back to this Kissmetric posting that you saw saying that they are looking for writers, that was three years ago. Can you take me through the steps? After you saw it, what did you do? How did you manage to actually submit something?

Shayla: I think I might’ve seen HubSpot sort of vacation, things of that nature. Before even this, I was on Upwork. I was writing a few articles on there, I didn’t know what I was doing, a lot of this is not knowing what I’ve been doing. If you know my personality, it’s all about trying. I will pick up any free newspaper at a store just to look at it to see if there’s an opportunity in it that fits me. I was doing that with the internet and I just would go to certain random websites and pages and things of that nature and I was typing in, writing, tech and business. I landed on, I think it was ProBlogger at the time and I saw these lists of writing positions and I think I saw the Kissmetrics one and then I was like, “I think I can do this, this seems reasonable.”

I think that’s what also the law prepared me for, I’m not afraid to do things. After going through three years of law school and taking the Bar twice, nothing is too hard for me. I know how to study for two months just to pass the test and just focus on that, I just decided to just apply and see what happens. I was applying on other ones as well but that’s the one that stuck.

Louis: Everything seemed already simple from your point of view after law school, you had this huge opportunity and you’re like, “I can do it.” And you did it. You applied to it, did you get accepted?

Shayla: Yes, that was one of my first gigs writing in SaaS and tech.

Louis: From the time you saw this ad to the time you applied to it, how long was that? Did you take a lot of time to create a good CV? How did you do it?

Shayla: I actually used one of the articles I had published on HuffPost at the time. That’s what I was publishing and using at Upwork, I just used one of those writing samples.

Louis: You applied to it, they took you onboard, how did you manage to write the first pieces? Exactly as you said, you didn’t know much about it. What was your approach to try to learn as much as you could?

Shayla: Just read. I’m a researcher, you learn those skills. If you don’t know, you gotta find an answer. I didn’t know so I was just going on life figuring out and just reading a lot because in my initial writing, most of it was based on what I learned from secondary information but as I got into more of marketing, it started coming from firsthand experience. It happened rapidly because once I got that gig, I got another writing some posts, then I saw an internship position at one company and it was paying less of what I thought was reasonable for writers but I said, “Okay, this is a good spot for me to just get some additional information on what I should be doing in the marketing and in this text.”

I applied for that, got the job and then after that, a few months, I had a contract with them for a few thousand dollars. I was starting off at ten cents a word and then a couple months later I was making a few thousand dollars doing more than just writing.

Louis: What type of resources did you research on when you got accepted by Kissmetrics?

Shayla: I think the standard ones, anything that was dealing with analytics, also content marketing. I don’t really remember the first post I wrote but I just would go to Google and search and then I would just go based like, “Oh, this looks like it has some authority.” I actually quote them, this site looks like they know what they’re talking about. Also, I would go back in the post that was already written at Kissmetrics, I’ve seen where they linked to. I felt like all the work was already done, you just have to replicate it and make it your own.

Louis: You’re just curating different data sources and adding your own personality to it.

Shayla: Yes.

Louis: That’s a very good learning. I think that’s quite inspiring for listeners who don’t necessarily know how to get into marketing, they might dream of getting into digital marketing or becoming a writer. But your story shows that as long as you believe in what you can do, as long as you know that you can do it, you’ve done stuff in the past, then it shouldn’t be too difficult. You should just work quite hard in researching on the craft and then go for it and don’t be afraid to apply for stuff that you might think are to be for you or not for you or you might feel underqualified. You are the example that if you try, you might get it.

Shayla: Sometimes, you forget how many things you apply for for. That, I guess, skills that came with me too because even prior to college and high school, I wrote scholarship essays so that I can get $100,000 of scholarships to pay for college and to pay for law school. I have no student loan debt, I already had that, again, research and willingness to get rejected and not care what was happening even in that scholarship process and even in the freelancing gigs. I moved on to the next so quickly that I, sometimes, forget that I even applied to something because if I’m not getting a response, of course I follow up but if I don’t get the response that week or two, it’s like, “Okay, move onto the next and let’s go about our day.”

Louis: That’s quite an inspiring way of thinking because a lot of people will be beaten down after the first application that they submitted but you wouldn’t really be that type of person doing that, you just move on and try again. That’s really cool, that’s a nice story. I think that’s quite inspiring for a lot of people listening. Let’s dig into a subject that I really love to talk to about and I think you do as well. If you have to choose so called marketing best practices that are just plain wrong, what would they be?

Shayla: The one that irks me and sometimes you have to do it because of the people you’re working with but I find that most SaaS and tech companies, we’re trying to sell too much in that content. We say we are educating the consumer but we still provide so many links, our product does this too, we will be talking about X,Y and Z, hey by the way, we do this too. If we’re going to approach the customer as an intelligent individual, we say they know what they wanna do but we still try to manipulate them and say, “Hey, don’t forget about this…” [00:14:04]

They’re on our website. They have the blog post, they probably have something to click until they get to the email address but we’re still constantly, constantly selling them insight of this blog post two or three times. It gets annoying.

Louis: That’s an interesting point, that’s not something I’ve heard too many times before. This is why when we talk together before doing the show, I actually chose to read into this particular problem in more detail. In the next few minutes, we’ll actually try to go through how to actually and really educate people without trying to sell them too much. We’ll try to go into a how to methodology that people can apply in their day to day, particularly in the tech or SaaS world. But is there any other thing that really annoys you in today’s marketing, before we dig into this one more in detail?

Shayla: Email campaigns, if it’s a specific email course that says it’s five days, I’m okay with it being back to back to back but you’ll notice, sometimes, depending on the company, they’ll just keep sending emails everyday to their customer. I don’t think they want it everyday, even on weekends, I don’t think they want to be so everyday. There needs to be some type of way to span this out, whether there’s a two day process, three day, then wait seven days. They’re on the email list, don’t try to scare them so that they can’t unsubscribe. I think that’s one of the other things that we’re not aware of, that we just have to send that email everyday.

Louis: You mean the five emails for the five day course or do you mean also once the five day course is done, more emails are coming?

Shayla: After the five day course, after the lead magnet.

Louis: What’s happening here is that people would tease you with this five day course and then in the blueprint, the small prints below the box, they will say, “By subscribing to this five day course, you will also get into our newsletter and you’ll receive emails every week,” or everyday.

Shayla: Of course you got the lead magnifying, sometimes it’s the five day email course, that’s fine. But there needs to be some thought placed into timing, how to connect with the potential customer after that. Sometimes if you look at companies’ unsubscribe rates, you’ll notice that it’s getting higher and higher if you keep sending all these emails everyday.

Louis: That’s a good one as well. Because I’m really into it, I usually like to read the small prints of all of those leads magnets and it’s usually the same every time. You don’t know the stuff but you also unsubscribe to their emails and you’ll start receiving them on a regular basis. If you have to choose one marketing campaign that was the worst ever in your mind, that’s something that really shocked you, what will it be?

Shayla: I guess more currently, the Pepsi commercial with one of the Jenners, I don’t even know.

Louis: For the listeners who don’t necessarily know about it too much or haven’t heard about it, can you go through a little bit what this Pepsi commercial was about?

Shayla: Basically, the Pepsi commercial calls out the black lives matter movement and try to make it seem like Pepsi can solve the problems between, I guess, the government and the people. It was just a bad taste. I think it should’ve been thought out. I think another company actually had a, I think it was Heineken, I might be wrong but they did a good job on the opposite end about how people can have a conversation about their differences. That was a great campaign.

It was like night and day. You can see in Twitter, people were just bashing Pepsi but giving praise to the other brand. You need to do a little bit more, focus, or research before you do campaigns like that.

Louis: I remember the Pepsi commercial that’s basically, they are giving Pepsi to the police doing a riot or some sort.

Shayla: Doing a demonstration.

Louis: Because of giving Pepsi, then the police are just happy.

Shayla: Everybody is happy. Just hand out Pepsi, everybody is happy.

Louis: Obviously it’s kind of a movie scene type of thing. While when you compare to the Heineken commercial, they were taking two people of the opposite spectrum in terms of their thoughts on a specific subject. I remember they took one transgender person and one person who was clearly against transgender and they just put them in the same room and let them speak first before telling them what their differences were.

Shayla: I think that’s what could be helpful in real life. They just gave a scenario of what would be possible as a solution almost in real life. I think Pepsi did the opposite, they took what was happening in real life and inserted themselves.

Louis: I remember watching this Heineken thing, I watched it until the end which is quite rare. It’s actually quite a moving TV commercial but they’re selling alcohol and I know it’s almost cliché and stupid but in France, nobody is allowed to advertise alcohol. You can’t advertise alcohol on TV, on radio, the only way you can do it is something in sport events, not even in sport events anymore, it’s a law from the 1990s. I think that should be the case in any country but anyway that’s another subject. Thinking of these bad marketing practices and our role as marketers, what do you think we can do together to make the web a better place and to make the internet a better place?

Shayla: Give the audience what they want and of course in moderation in turn. We are so focused on the end goal sometimes that we forget that we are in business for the customer. We’re building this marketing campaign, “Oh that would be nice, this would be great, just add this, just add that.” It falls flat because we forgot to think about what the customer will want or what stage of the buying process they’re in? How are they feeling right now in a certain climate or in a certain country or what’s happening to them? Is this gonna offend or is this gonna resonate? Does this even matter?

If we will listen to that and bring the customer inside of the marketing campaign we’re doing, whether that’s email, a Facebook ad, we will see better results. Focusing on them should be the focal point and not as the cliché focus on them, I mean, have that advocate, even have a customer maybe sometimes come to your office or have them remotely speak about what they like and dislike about the customer because it makes it real.

Louis: I agree with you. That’s something I preach all time, we tend to forget that people are people behind the screens especially in digital marketing, we tend to forget that. We tend to look at Google Analytics visits and forget that those are actually people going through the website.

Shayla: You’re right. These are not visitors, leads, even labelling them as customers sometimes. These are humans, these are people, these are real life individuals who have a problem and need, possibly, your solution. Educating them without trying to always tell them can be really liberating not only for the potential customer but for your organization because you’re doing more than just selling.

Louis: Exactly. We started to talk a little bit about this in the last few minutes, you were saying that you tend to see companies trying to sell multiple times in a blog post or support conversation instead of truly educating people and truly helping them to reach their goal. People are not stupid, they know what they want, all they need is you to help them in this path. In the next few minutes, what I’d like to do together is try to come up with a step by step solution on how to really educate people, especially in the tech world and SaaS. What would be the step one of that? Switching from thinking of selling multiple times during your content and instead truly educating them?

Shayla: I think the first step is starting with the customers, bringing them in, listen to their needs, understand them inside and out so that this is not just a buyer persona, this is not an avatar, this is a real life human being who has not only a problem that you can solve but also has additional problems that are going around your problem. It’s not just, “I’m having a problem with my billing and I need your accounting software.” There’s more to billing than your accounting software, there’s other issues that come from that that that person has problems with.

Louis: How would you go about this? Let’s say you have a SaaS business and you have a few employees, how would you go about getting those people in your office or talking to them?

Shayla: I’m starting with a customer’s assist even on a lower level, just not bringing them in, have marketing read customer support tickets to actually see what people are asking, what they are coming for. Have social media come in and show you the actual tweets and Facebook messages that people are leaving, not just good but also maybe talking about your company in a bad light.

But then go and pass the messaging just to talk to that actual customer and say, “Hey, we wanna provide you a better service, we would like to setup a call.” Record this message just to help our team and write down or work with your team to ask specific questions, and then record their message so that you’re not like oh, she said this. Not everybody on your team is gonna get it, that’s why you have multiple people from different disciplines on your team. If somebody says one thing, “Oh, that’s marketing.” Marketing might pick up one thing, customer’s assist might pick on something, and sales might hear something totally different, that’s where you all come together and say, “Okay, we’re listening now. We need to do this, possibly, in the next marketing campaign.”

Louis: The first step, I would call it empathy. It’s really trying to listen to people and avoid using spreadsheets and really organizing proper meetups, proper face to face conversations with stakeholders of the company and have a few people talking at those and listening instead of trying to convince them of anything.

Shayla: That happens on so many levels, not even just the customer. The customer can say, “I don’t like A, B and C.” We’re like, “But we do offer A, B and C.” The customer just said you don’t offer A, B and C, there’s a disconnect. They don’t know, you can come back with something in that moment because he has his Facebook, they need a solution but you need to really analyze that they just told you, you’re missing something but you have it. Your team needs to go back to the drawing board with messaging possibility or just even telling them.

Louis: The perception that people have of your product is not the same than the product you’re selling, usually it’s drastically different. Your role should really be trying to match the two, trying to match the perception they have with what you actually have. That’s step one, we try to get into the door and you talk to them. What would be step two, what would you do then?

Shayla: Step two, which is sometimes also overlooked, is how are we going to build a marketing campaign based on the learning styles of our customer? They do this in school, they have something called differentiate in learning. You have the teacher, some students may take multiple choice, others may write the answer, others may need the question told to them so they can answer back verbally, we don’t do that in marketing. There’s a lot of different students in this case with different learning styles, your customers are the same way.

You’re gonna have to maybe write a blog post, you might have to do an audio, you might have to do a video, we have to do different forms of media for our customers because they all learn differently.

Louis: That’s a good point. It might be difficult for small teams to know where to focus on but I guess by talking to customers, you know the type of content they actually connect with. For this marketing campaign in particular, maybe you can think back of campaigns that you’ve done with actual clients but once you’ve talked to those customers of theirs, what content will this marketing campaign contain? How would you decide what to put in there and what to write?

Shayla: First, if it’s dealing with not only the problem of the customer you sell but also dealing with the overarching issue. Again, if somebody has a billing issue, what is really the problem with your billing? Of course we can provide accounting software but list all of the other factors going around your billing, whether it is how do I make invoices quickly or how do I handle international invoicing.

There’s other underlying and overarching issues that the customer faces and sometimes we just focus on that pain point that we can sell, when we should be focusing on everything because we wanna become their trusted resource, as we say, we wanna become that adviser but you can’t become an adviser if you’re only dealing with one pain point.

Louis: This right there, I suppose, is the principle of what you’re preaching about really educating instead of selling, is that by focusing on the pain points that are outside of the core thing that you solve, you can simply educate them because you have nothing to sell in this particular element. The only thing that you’re trying to trade is trust, they trust you as a leader in your field.

Shayla: I think sometimes we get caught up in those red herrings where this is not really the pain point, we can get confused because sometimes the customer doesn’t know what they want, that’s a whole different thing. How can you solve a problem that a customer doesn’t know they have yet, you have to do some more digging in to really see what’s happening to them in their space that is so horrible that they have to go reach out and get somebody else to help them or they have to pay somebody.

That’s why I think, when I’m doing marketing campaigns, somebody has such a problem that they are willing to pay somebody for it because usually some people are “I’ll just do it myself” or “I’ll go without” but somebody has such a pain point that they really have to come to you to purchase it. That’s, I think, the mindset that we also need to have. People are giving you the money, they’re taking this out of their budget, what is that true pain point? How can you help them with it?

Louis: How would you manage to dig into this particular true pain point?

Shayla: Again, start talking with them but also going beyond what they say. People will never give you what was really happening, I’ve learned that as an attorney. People come to the office, they tell you what’s wrong and they forget everything else that’s happening. That’s doing research or figuring out, “I need to look at you in your environment.” For some companies, this is difficult, but to actually work with their teams.

If you are B2B and you sell software to a company, maybe you might need to do onsite visit or maybe you need to talk to the person who actually has the particular problem and all the other people who depend on that problem to be solved. You need to see what’s actually happening because the customers will not give you that all the time, they are so focused on “I just can’t do this.” But you’ll realize that it’s not that they can’t do it, it’s just too hard to do it. That’s a whole another solution, the saying that you can’t do it.

Louis: I very much like this idea. You can organize customer meet ups in your own office and talk to them to create a good relationship but then, I would say, the next step could very well be trying to get invited into their office and observe them like you’re in a zoo, almost, which is very bad to say but it’s almost that. It’s almost like trying to be this fly in this office that doesn’t get really noticed where you can actually watch how people do stuff. Perhaps asking them a few questions during the day on how they do certain things but observing stuff without you being actively involved will probably lead to a lot of interesting discovery.

Shayla: Even doing something where you can watch their screen, maybe like, “Show me what you normally do.” The session replays for your own. But for another customer, you can just say let me see what you do to actually setup this software or setup this invoice or whatever the problem is. You can see how many clips they’re taking, their thought process, that’s what you really want.

People are not always going to convey their thought process or how they do it, they may even miss a step sometimes when they’re trying to outline it for you on paper. But if you can actually see it and write it down and be engulfed in their experience as it’s happening, you’ll be like, “We can do that with two clips instead of five. You don’t even have to use this particular software, we have this.” That’s when you’ll know your customer. You should know what steps they’re going to take when they go into your software to get their problem solved.

Louis: Let’s say from all of those observations you found out the type of pain points you could solve, how do you go about selecting one out of all of the stuff you discovered?

Shayla: Of course you wouldn’t wanna do this with just one customer, it would take some time and I’ll have to observe other customers as well and then see what’s the common denominator of that problem and then start writing that blog post or that particular content so that you’ll know, “This is the problem, let’s start with this one then go down the line.” Or what would be easier because sometimes just because it’s the biggest pain point for them doesn’t mean they will know it’s their biggest pinpoint, sometimes.

You have to constantly balance out your customer. They might think ten steps is a long time to do something but you can do it in five, they might not see it like, “I’ll just take the ten steps.” They might not see it as a problem. You wanna start sometimes with the problem that really hurts them and then also that you can solve quickly. It’s just like anything we do with marketing, we do the ten times or we do just the ten times results. Sometimes we do the little things that, “Oh, it’s not gonna make a ten times results today but you know, it helps us in the process.” That’s the same thing that you wanna do with the customer when you’re writing that piece of content. You might wanna focus on something that won’t be a big difference to them but it does help them when they see it and then move on from there.

Louis: That’s a very good point. I don’t know if you can share this kind of stuff, you might not wanna mention the name of the client in terms of confidentiality but I wonder if you have any example of a particular campaign that you’ve done using this methodology and how it went.

Shayla: I’ve worked with clients who really understand the customer. We did not only just collecting Facebook information, we collected phone call information and we actually implemented what I’m saying with watching the customer in their environment. When we started to write the content, that made such differences like, “We should’ve did this.” But we don’t do it because it takes time, it takes resources, that’s not the blog post you can write today and give up tomorrow, this is, maybe, a month or two depending on the team you have but this will get you 10X results in the end.

You just have to continue to balance what you can do now, what you can do later and focus, but that, for them, made all of the difference in the world to go through a process like that so they can be like, “Okay, we’re not just listening to our customers tell us what their pain points are, we’re actually seeing what they’re doing in their environment.” That’s not really the issue but we have to convey it to them in a way that it’s solving the problem but that they understand that they’re solving the problem. People are fickle. As we go through life, we learn that people are fickle and we don’t always know what we want and we always can’t convey what we want.

Louis: Can you give an example of the type of pain points that you’ve identified thanks to the research you’ve done.

Shayla: Some of the pain points included customers saying they have a problem with the platform and sometimes it was just a computer issue, it didn’t have anything to do with the software. This happened a few times, customers complaining about a particular window screen that will popup but it was the company’s fault because their setting, it was always set to default, that’s what would happen.

Some might just have a pain point, they didn’t have the client software yet and just going in and seeing what other competitors are doing. They didn’t know that taking 10 steps could be reduced to 3, they thought this is just the way it was, this is the tradition. They were so focused on legacy, it was a legacy software, these people are using the software for a good 10 plus years. They didn’t know that another solution existed that can shorten their time and nobody could really dare to even think about another. Those are the types of insights you get that people are sometimes just upset in their ways, others are just dealing with it at the time and sometimes it’s your fault.

Louis: From one of these pain points, can you share the type of campaigns that you’ve created out of them?

Shayla: From there, we’ve gone to creating social media campaigns to just get people on the site. Some of my clients had issues with even just getting traffic from social, just taking the bird vision, the words from the customers and their pain points and the research to figure out, okay, how do we make this a social campaign? What words do we use? What pictures do we use? Also creating not only just blog posts but that cornerstone content that will last forever, creating ebooks exactly on not just the pain point but what I’m saying, that overarching issue.

We’ve a lot of times gone from talking about themselves in a blog post three to four times to only mention themselves one time in an ebook. Just really getting to the customer and just saying, “You’re on my mailing list, I have you. I know my product is great but let me give you something of such a value that I’m gonna educate you and that you’re not gonna be intimidated with me trying to give you all this information about how great my product is but something that should be used and maybe even give to another friend or to share with other people.” So that they’re gonna think it’s a sales material because a lot of times, especially in B2B, marketers share each other’s self but it just seems like sales material, we’re just giving each other what this X company has, S company but is not really a resource. That’s what I describe my clients to do, be that true resource. It takes some trust that your customer will come back to you.

Louis: How did you convince your client to actually go for it because it could seem to be a risky strategy?

Shayla: This particular client was at a crossroad.

Louis: They had no choice.

Shayla: It’s not that they had not choice, that they were willing to do something different. They were willing to take a chance on something that had great potential. I think that’s what just attracted them to say, “Hey, let’s give this a try. We’ve tried all these other things without seeing anything different. Let’s try something that’s “out of the box” and that could have great potential for us.

Louis: This is the type of activity that requires a specific mindset and not a lot of companies or marketers would be willing to take this risk. How would you go about trying to convince some companies or C-Suites that are opposed to the idea of not trying to sell but being much more patient about capturing or convincing people that you might be a very good solution for their problems?

Shayla: First, that could be just selling them what they already say they’re doing but they are not doing. A lot of SaaS companies will say, “Oh yeah, we’re educating. Yeah, we got this.” And pointing out that they’re not fulfilling their mission and values that they said for their customers, and then also showing the long term effects of that. What has this process of you doing affected your business, is it giving you the results you want or that you think you can do or do you think you can do better?

I think that’s where I’d start with those interested clients like, “This is something different, it’s gonna take some time, it’s a new approach. I’m so used to putting my company name and something five or ten times, let’s try not doing it.” Of course you are testing, just making sure that they can test this against their other material.

Louis: I’m just curious of the ebook, in particular, that you mentioned. What was the title of it or the concept behind it?

Shayla: I think it was an analytic software. The concept was just, again, not focused on hey you need data, hey you need something to AB test your software, let’s get to the real issue on what you need besides AB testing. We segmented this, multiple ebooks, for multiple people in the business. If it was a manager, it was a different ebook for them on analytics that really talked about, hey you just want to be able to show that you’re improving.

Why do you need to show that you’re improving in your business? How is this gonna have effect on your business? There was a different ebook for the person who’s actually testing. How is this gonna help you do your job easier because you’re the one actually testing the software? You’ve been taking so many steps, you can do it an easier way. Just getting down to those nitty gritty things so that they understand that we’re not just trying to be another software in your life, that’s what you want to convey.

You don’t wanna be just another tool I have to buy or I need to buy or because I hate the one I have. You don’t want a customer coming to you because they hate the software they have because then they’re just gonna find something they hate about you later on, then they go on their churn out. You wanna come with value upfront with education, come with information that will keep them just trusting you time and time after again.

Especially B2B, the software will be gone because another person came in and it changed out with those same people, the employees who worked it still subscribe to your blogs, and they’re not even using the software anymore. That’s what you want, you want their continued love like they are more than just software, they are the person I need to go to when I have a problem in other pain points.

Louis: I think it’s a perfect way to end this section of the episode where we talk about the startup step by step. I think it’s a really cool overview of what you could do differently and open your mind to different options and just trying to sell even if you’re under pressure. I think it makes sense even if your targets are not being met every quarter that you take a different mindset and try to help people reach their goal and not try to sell too hard.

I’m curious, it might be a difficult question for you but in general it’s a difficult question, if you have to think about, in the next 10 or 20 years, how will the internet look like?

Shayla: I don’t think we will have websites the way we have websites now.

Louis: Why so?

Shayla: I don’t know but I don’t think websites are going to be what we see them, it’s strange to explain but I just feel like something is gonna change. When we log on to the websites we go to like Nike or those brands, it’s not gonna be a website we are so accustomed to. I don’t know if that’s a different browser, I don’t know if that’s a different content. I don’t see us going to www.nike.com and seeing all of the stuff that we see now, it’s gonna be a little bit different. I don’t know what it is but I just feel that way.

Louis: When you think about it in terms of actual step, it sounds a bit okay, it sounds a bit old fashioned to have to still do that and actually type your thoughts into something then it brings you somewhere else then you go to this website that is not personalized to you, you have to search for your own stuff. When you think of all the steps involved, it seems like there’s a lot that could be simplified which is why I think voice search will be quite big.

Personalization will be quite big in a sense that when you go to a website, per se, it’s not really a website, it’s the personalized version of the website that only fits what you want which is a little bit like Facebook feeds at the minute. I think that’s gonna create a lot of issues because on the Facebook feeds, the more you like specific stuff, the more you’re being fed with those exact stuff. It might create a lot of eco chamber if we personalize that too much because you’re just getting these cycle of seeing the stuff that you are supposed to like and you don’t discover anything new.

Shayla: Basically you stay in the neighborhood you’ve always stayed in without even going out, not even really being in the world wide web.

Louis: Exactly. I think that’s something that’s gonna be a big challenge for people and for publishers, in particular. We’ll see how that runs out. From your own perspective, what do you think marketers should learn today to help them in the next 10 or 20 years?

Shayla: I think we need to learn that if we wanna continue to see growth and profit and success within our companies, we’re going to really have to be focused on helping the customer as a whole and not just the pain point that we have a solution for.

Louis: Trying to think about ourselves as not a product we’re selling but more as a brand. I think you said something, it’s slightly different, as a leader, did you say before that, as a trusted leader.

Shayla: Yeah, a trusted adviser but just even something grander than that. I could be selling software but I also know that you buy a certain brand of detergent. I think, in the future, it’s gonna come to us really knowing almost everything about our customer, not only in our field, but in other stuff that is unrelated. I just see that, I don’t know how true it’s gonna be but I think that’s something that we’re gonna have to focus on.

Louis: From the other side of the fan, that sounds really creepy, doesn’t it?

Shayla: Yes, I’m not saying that’s what I want. I’m just being realistic like if Amazon knows when I need new detergent, maybe they’ll be helpful information for a software company that’s selling accounting, you’ll never know. Also, a good point would be just by zip code. Somebody sends me an email, you need to know what’s happening in my neighborhood whether there was a storm or something like that so you can suspend your email campaigns for a while because some particular action is happening in my neighborhood and I shouldn’t be burdened down with your emails. I think that is gonna come into place.

Louis: Yeah, definitely. Think of the detergent and the accounting software, the expensive stuff that you can take out of the quantity of detergent that you actually buy. You might be able to extrapolate the number of children you have and that kind of stuff. It’s gonna get nasty really fast. I think, in the future, pretty fast, we’re gonna have charity and a lot of not for profit and also a lot of activist groups that will form around privacy. There’s a lot going on already but I think it’s gonna get even more rouge in a sense, I think there’ll be even more people especially from our generation and even the generation after us that will really try to fight against all of those tactics that might try to know too much about us.

Shayla: That will be the growth of something else, maybe that’s when I’ll be into nonprofit work again.

Louis: If you have to pick three resources that could be books, could be blog posts, that could be anything that you would recommend to the listeners, what would they be?

Shayla: Right now I’m reading The Road to Recognition by Seth Price and Barry Feldman, that’s a great book. It’s about personal branding but you can basically put that to anything in business. Also, blogs I like to frequent, I usually go to FAS company, I like to read all the different types to just get a sense of what’s happening in business and not just SaaS and tech. I think another one is just to do something different. Sometimes I like to read about race cars.

I always have my outlier, this is something like last month I was reading about balloon making. This month I’m really doing race cars and just learning the engineering and stuff like that. I always want people to do something that’s totally off the wall, just get a finer resource that’s just totally not in your sector even if you don’t wanna learn about it, just read it anyway.

Louis: What’s the benefit of doing that?

Shayla: It helps with my mind, me personally. I’m learning something new. I read so much about marketing, you just fall down, I’m reading the same stuff sometimes and I get tired. I like to read about something new and maybe the idea will spark or just to have something fresh. My husband and I sometimes look at crazy shows on Netflix that’ll be off the wall. He likes to look at, for example, we looked at the baking shows and I think it’s in England, I’m not sure because it’s different, British shows are different, British reality is totally different. We’re looking at the baking show and I’m like, “They’re really nice, they’re mean but they’re nice with it.” It’s not like American that everything is vicious. Just bringing up that culture, you just learn because you don’t think sometimes that something else exists.

We also looked at the housing shows in, again it’s just overseas, I’m not sure, I think it’s in England. They teach you really how to build a home, they’re just not going to find a home like in America, “Oh we like X,Y and Z.” And they go find it. They build this stuff from scratch and they are telling you the mechanisms about it. We really like overseas shows now.

Louis: You seem very passionate about that, it’s very cool. It’s a good advice, in general, to actually disconnect and read all the stuff, that’s why a lot of marketers and business people in general will tell you to read fiction books instead of just marketing books or business books because you might learn a lot of stuff from it. Your brain might make a lot of connections, as you said, the stuff you didn’t know you didn’t know. Shayla, you’ve been really good. How can people connect with you or learn more from you?

Shayla: Feel free to find me on Twitter, that’s where I’m usually at, that’s @shaylaprice. You can also find me on LinkedIn, connect with me, learn from me and I can learn from you. I’m looking forward to it.

Louis: Great, all good. Thank you so much once again for your time.

Shayla: Thank you.

How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers

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Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.

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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.

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