Podcast

Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

Podcast

Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

Podcast

Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

Podcast

Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

Podcast

Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

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Podcast

Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

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Podcast

Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

29:55
MIN
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About the Episode
Dave Gerhardt is one of the most prominent B2B marketing voices in SaaS. He’s practically created his own B2B marketing school through his DGMG community. In this episode, he reveals some of the most crucial steps B2B marketers can take to become better at their jobs. Through his insights on building community, understanding your audience, facing failure, and setting goals, Dave delivers on his promise to teach B2B marketing in a way that resonates with marketers at any level.
Episode Highlights

Listen to sales calls
The best marketers gather insights into their customers’ wants, needs, and questions from sales calls. 

Let goals guide decisions
Setting strong goals will enable you to easily see which ideas are worth moving forward. 

It’s ok to fail
Sometimes the best learnings come from discovering the why behind your biggest failures.

Meet our Guest

Dave Gerhardt is on a mission to educate B2B marketers across the world through his marketing community DGMG. He’s held marketing roles at leading tech companies like Constant Contact, HubSpot, and Privy. He spent four years building Drift’s marketing from the ground up and recently returned to take on the role of Chief Brand Officer. When he’s not creating content for Drift or DGMG, he’s hanging out with his family, lecturing at Harvard, or listening to a great marketing podcast.

Episode Transcript

Chris Byers: Dave Gerhardt is regarded as one of the leading brand builders in B2B today. An author, a podcast host, and community builder with his DG marketing group of over 2500 members. Before joining Privy, he led marketing at Drift for over four years and helped create one of the fastest growing SAS companies in the world. How has he been able to stand out and make an impact in B2B marketing? That's the story will uncover in this episode. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact our decisions create.

Chris Byers: Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Byers: Let's just start with what's the opportunity today with B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I love giving marketing advice, for sure. However, I think the challenge with that is it's not a it's not a paint by numbers approach. And so even if you hear something that you think is maybe interesting or insightful from us today, there's ultimately so many factors that that go on inside of the company. Your companies, your customers, your price point, the market, the competition. There's so many factors that could be contributing to your success in marketing. And so there's a lot there. Don't take anybody's paint by numbers approach to marketing. However, I do think that one of the biggest misconceptions in B2B is that it has to be so different than consumer marketing B2C, whatever you want to call it. When I think that what's happened now is we're all just we're all just consumers, and the opportunity is as a B2B brand, you can have a direct relationship with your customers. And that's not just for direct to consumer brands, that's for B2B meaning. If you sell financial software, you can go and reach all of your customers online and you can use all of those channels to really build an audience and build an audience of your dream customers. And so I think like one thing that I've been championing for a couple of years now is just, you don't have to do B2B marketing like traditional B2B marketing in order to be successful, just because that's how everyone's always done it. I think the key is to go back and study like how people make decisions and look at where people are spending time. So not where it be to be buyer spending time. Because guess what? I'm a B2B buyer, I'm a CMO, but I'm also a dad. I'm also a husband, I'm also a golfer. And so I'm a consumer. I'm doing all those things in other channels, too. Don't just go look at what Gartner and Forrester and serious decisions and whoever CMO, what what they're talking about, go and study what people are doing. Go study how people are behaving. Not just today, but go back and study like social psychology and direct response advertising and learn the timeless kind of principles of marketing. Those are my favorite things to think about applying to B2B today.

Chris Byers: I think it can easily be thought of as frankly, a little bit boring to, you know, that B2B marketing. We think of big brands like Nike and consumer ads. I'm curious, what are some examples of maybe some brands or things you've seen in the market that you think are good examples of ways people are doing B2B marketing and it just a much better way.

Dave Gerhardt: I always give this example now and I'm mad at myself because they don't have another one. I think Drift has historically done a good job. I think this was a big thing that I was proud of when I was there, which is instead of building a brand about our product marketing and sales technology, we built a brand for marketers. And so everything that we did was focused on how do we build an audience and a community of marketing people? And if we can do that, if we can get them to trust us through our content and our relationships and our community that can give us a moat. And so I think, like the drift marketing strategy was very strong. Because of that, I think Gong Gio and Gong is a great example of a company that's doing that in that they clearly know their audience. They clearly know the persona that they're selling to. They don't just write 500 word clickbait blog posts. They publish in-depth reports about objection handling. They do a good job of leading content first. I think the best marketing strategy today, if you're a B2B brand, is to be perceived as the expert in your niche. And so if you're going and you're selling to salespeople, how can you build a brand around? Hey, we are the number-one brand to follow if you want to get better at sales because that has nothing to do with gangs product that has everything to do with. I'm in sales. I want to follow their Instagram account. I want to follow their LinkedIn account because I want to do better at my job. And if I now create that relationship for that brand, guess who I'm going to buy from? Because most people are not really just buying one product, they're shopping. And so if I'm shopping around when it's time for me to buy product, it can help me. Record sales calls. It manages sales team performance. The first brand I'm going to turn to is the brand that I've been listening to podcast for six months, and I've been always getting interesting stuff from on LinkedIn.

Chris Byers: And I think you've touched on it just a little bit in some of the ways that people think about brand, probably in the wrong way that let's just write some more content that is promoting ourselves. Yeah. What are the things you think brands get wrong?

Dave Gerhardt: So one is they think about themselves first and we're all selfish and. Whether you will admit that publicly or not, it's OK, because if there's a public version of being selfish, but also we're just wired to think for ourselves and defend for ourselves first. And so I see a lot of companies putting out messaging into the world that is very company focused. Whereas no talk, talk about me, come to me, I'll give you I'll give you one example of this. Somebody reached out to me the other day and they said, Hey, have you ever done anything with like an influencer type partnership? I said, No, we would like you to try our software. We'll let you try it for free, and then we'd like you to write about it and tell your followers on LinkedIn as like why in the world what? I want to do that? Why would I do that? It makes no said there's nothing in it for me to do it that way. And so I think that's one small example of that is the thing that most B2B brands get wrong is they don't have a deep understanding of what are the wants and needs and desires of the customer. And so they just lead with their we're the leading cloud based A.I. whatever garbage jargon kind of descriptions, everything starts with a selfish benefit. And so the very first thing is like, what is a selfish benefit of using my product as a customer instead of just generating leads or generating revenue? You might get promoted in your job. You might progress your career faster. You might be seen as a leader and an expert in your industry. You might get more credibility and trust inside of the company, right? Those are all like fundamental human desires that a lot of companies don't try to lead with. The other thing is, I see a lot of creative that isn't very creative in that. If you scroll through LinkedIn and you just see ads, they all look the same. They all look like ads. And I think a lot of times we don't look at the context of the channel that we're trying to create content in. And so if you're advertising on LinkedIn, the very first thing that I would be doing is going and looking at what is all the other creative and content. What is that that's already being advertised on LinkedIn? What does that look like? Because so often all of us are just scrolling aimlessly through our feeds. I want mine to stand out. I want mine to be the opposite. I want mine to interrupt the pattern of you scrolling, and that doesn't mean that I have to do it in a click baity, annoying, in-your-face kind of way. It means that I need to understand the context of what's happening that channel, because the best product is not always going to win. Oftentimes, when you're trying to promote your stuff on social media or content or whatever, you have to actually be interesting. And so to do that, you've got to look at what's happening. I see a lot of basically like kind of stock image looking creative where I would just take an iPhone video with some text on it on LinkedIn as an ad would probably perform much better than the highly sanitized looking banner.

Chris Byers: So my guess is in the marketing group that you have 2500 plus people, they're thinking about problems like this and challenges. What are the things that are top of mind for them that they're thinking about these days?

Dave Gerhardt: I think there's been a huge shift to marketers focusing on revenue first. I'm seeing a lot of marketers who it's awesome because they're really focused on marketing as a team, as responsible for delivering revenue, not marketing as a team that's responsible for getting us branded frisbees and pens and T-shirts and swag for the event. Marketing is like the key driver of revenue in the company. And with that, also seeing CEOs thinking about marketing from that perspective, more CEOs wanting to invest in marketing, more CEOs wanting to take chances and do more interesting and creative things in marketing to serve those revenue goals.

Chris Byers: Talked a little bit about this how to make inroads with your customers. It's really taking their needs and wants and desires into play. But I think most marketing people arrive to their job. And then even these days, to your point, they're going to get an MQ l goal or a lead goal or a follower goal. So how do I like skip through that and get started saying OK, but I need to connect with people? What do you think those first steps are?

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, I think the first step is to listen to the customers. And unless you're joining a company where you have no customers, most times you're going in and you're taking a job or you're working on a new initiative, and you have to remember that everything like we do a lot of things in marketing, but the whole point is to get customers. And so you have to have your finger on the pulse of what customers are talking about, what they're thinking about and what's amazing is like that used to be, Oh hey, Sarah, can I join a couple of your sales calls next week? OK? And I got to go sit at Sarah's desk with her or dial into a Zoom call. Hey, Dave, from the marketing teams on, and that's fine. But also what's really cool now is you can use a product like Gong and there's even just listening to like Zoom recordings. That stuff is so easily available. When I joined Privy, the very first thing that I did was I got the gong app on my phone and literally for two weeks, I took any time that I would listen to an audio book or podcast instead or work out what, like, why I was working on. I was literally listening to customer calls, and it was amazing because in the course of two weeks, I probably listen to 40 50 customer calls and on my own schedule, on my own time, on my phone and through that you start to be able to hear the words customers are using start to be able to do some pattern matching. And by the way, if you ever listen to customer calls, you know that every customer is different. Yes. But let's say of those 50 calls, 80 percent of the questions are going to be the same. And ultimately, the best thing you can do as a marketer is get inside of the head of your customer. I think social media is great because you can just passively see what people are talking about. But pairing that with listening to sales calls and having a close relationship with the sales team and support team, that stuff really goes a long way for understanding your customer.

Chris Byers: I love that you mentioned pattern recognition would love for you to talk just a little bit more about that. Do you think that's important and thinking about connecting with customers?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's important with knowing what to create in order to connect with customers, because like connecting with customers in order to connect with a customer, you have to create something, whether that's you're sending an email or you making a video or you're doing a podcast like it's got to be something there. And so how can you know what to create? You have to be able to like, have, I think one of the underrated skills that doesn't get talked about enough in marketing is having taste and not taste for designing your apartment, but like taste for understanding what things might be interesting to customers. And so like when you go and listen to 10, 20, 30, 40 calls, the same things start to come up over and over and so you can start to think about. Everyone has this one objection about they think it's too expensive. OK. So should we just do nothing about that? Should we complain to the product team and change the pricing? Or should I think about it? Huh? How can I as a marker? What can I do to help with that objection? Here's an idea. What if we had a page on our website that was perfect com slash proof? And it was all case studies and testimonials, and there was an ROI calculator on there and we could have people, you know, fill that out as part of the process. OK, cool. So now let's say you solve that problem, and two months later, you're hearing less questions come up about that objection. That's an amazing use of marketing.

Chris Byers: Tell us a little bit about GMG. Why it's needed. What are you trying to solve in the world?

Dave Gerhardt: What happened was I started my own private podcast through Patreon when I left drift and that thing grew so fast. In a couple of months, it was five hundred members and I relearned the most important lesson in marketing, which is, man, if you have an audience, the value of learning through that audience is so powerful and so through, let's say, the first 500 paying members of my patron. I learned that yes, some people, some crazy people out there want to hear my rants and ravings about marketing. But most of the people in here, wow, they're asking questions about hiring and campaign planning and presenting to the board and managing up. And how do you hire product marketing person? What are good interview questions for an intern? And it was through that community that that that Patreon group that I was like, Whoa, there's something bigger in here. And so that ended up launching a community which is on Facebook and then through that community on Facebook continued discussion about that type of stuff, and it continued to grow. Now today it's 2500 members, and I just launched something called GMG University, which is I wanted to have one library where you can go as a marketer and type in presenting to the board and you'll find two videos and a template, for example. And you know, maybe you can go through that stuff before your next board meeting. And so the need was I didn't know it was there, but it was through the audience. I learned that there was this hunger for marketing content. I knew it because I the only reason I was able to launch my Patreon was because of LinkedIn. There was enough people who were interested in my stuff and comments via LinkedIn and Twitter that that's how I got my first couple hundred members on Patreon. But then it was through that group that you learn, Wow, there's something bigger here people want. They literally want a college education. They want Netflix for marketing. They want masterclass. Com for marketing content. It's marketing. I like talking about marketing. I like doing stuff for marketing. I like creating content. So that kind of led to piecing this thing together, and it's just continued to grow from there. People have this hunger to invest in them in themselves. And yeah, sure, I'll spend one hundred bucks a year or two hundred bucks a year, and most people expand it to their company anyway, learning how to get better at my job. And I think it's become a pretty cool thing. A single thing that I learned in school, high school and college. That's not to knock either of those places, but it hasn't helped me in my career in marketing. I came up with this tagline for GMG, which I think is so true, which is no one goes to school for B2B marketing, and I've seen that the most valuable things for me. As a first time marketing leader, let's say a drift was like getting outside of the four walls of my company, like meeting the director of marketing at Marketo, at lunch at Saaster, picking her brain and being like, Wow, I just learned so much. I just learned so much internal things like, here's how Marketo does it. And I felt that myself and I got addicted to like watching videos and listening to podcasts. And so I you worked at an amazing company, but I also educated myself and I invested in myself. And I think it's one way of, I don't know, I wanted to create this content and put it back out in the world to help other people get better at their jobs in marketing. Because I think so much of what we do in B2B marketing, like you get caught up in such meaningless stuff, the perfect template for planning your campaigns are creating your budget or like what the best practice framework is. And it's so much of that stuff should just be decisions that should be eliminated because it's like here, just use this like there's 15 different ways you could do positioning, but here's this one that I really like. It gets the job done and it's going to get you what you need, and you should not be spending five hours out of your week deciding I want positioning template to use. You should freaking pick up Positioning tab and use it and be getting feedback already.

Chris Byers: What advice do you have? For people who you may want to use their experience and expertize to teach and or equip, whether online or in a college classroom, what did you learn about how to get that message across?

Dave Gerhardt: For me, it's been like learning about something where there's value back to me. I liked copywriting. I liked marketing. And so by being by focusing on like getting better at the specific example from drifters like David pushed me to study copywriting and direct response advertising because there's a bunch of natural things you already do. If you learn these, you'll be able to unlock. So what that did was he showed me like, Hey, don't try to become this T-shaped marketer. Don't worry about trying to study SAS metrics and conversion rate optimization and SEO and marketing automation. Just focus on copywriting. And so the thing that changed for me with learning was like learning with the I still don't enjoy reading. It's not like what I sit down to do to just pass an hour. But I read every day because I read to learn about something specific. And so I think if you want to become a marketing leader or you want to become a video producer or you want to become a product marketing leader, like it's way better to zone in on that particular topic and then go deep on that topic as opposed to try to pick from everything. And I think that really helped, which was like, Hey, you don't have to go and try to be great at all. These things pick out the one thing. I think the other thing is, look for you've got to find a role model or two. For example, if I wanted to become great at product marketing, I wouldn't study every product marketer I would go and find like, who's one or two like amazing product marketing leaders that are maybe five years ahead of me, literally go find their LinkedIn profile and try to go and follow and see everything that they've done and find that journey. Because, like history, just histories is the best like lesson. Like even now, like in 2020, I started reading a lot of history books because I wanted to just get some context for what was happening in the world and everything has already happened. That's happening right now in some form or another. And that's what makes history so powerful. And I think the same is true for trying to understand your journey. So if you're a marketing manager, you want to become CMO, go and find one or two CMO that you think might work for a company that you like or have done some things in your career that you want to do and just focus on studying the moves of those one or two people as opposed to like everyone in that industry. So the same way you're going to focus on one or two core strengths go and focus on one or two core people. And also one or two core resources. I used to get paralyzed by that to keep up with everything. I got to read every marketing blog. If I'm going to know everything and nope, I don't need, I don't need to do that will take forever to try to keep up, and you'll never make any progress. So instead, I was like, You know what? I'm just going to read Saaster content. OK, great. And I think like, you just got to pick one or two kind of channels and producers to go deep on.

Chris Byers: Also talking just about that idea of you talk about progress and keep the bit of the keeping up with the Joneses. Like the moment you do something great, the bad news is you get to do something greater next. How do you manage that kind of balance of being creative and innovative? But I don't know. You can't always be on to the next thing. You have to have some, some balance there.

Dave Gerhardt: Part of it is like, welcome to the job in marketing, and that is what it is, which is you just did something ridiculous. Great. You've just reset the bar for what we need from you. And that is what it is. You just got to accept that as part of the job, which is if you do great things, people are just going to continue to want more. If you hit big goals, people are going to continue to want bigger goals. That's kind of part of the growth, the growth climbing.

Chris Byers: I love it. I know I've been thinking a lot about, especially coming out of tough year last year. There is this kind of moment of you do need to, I don't know, just find a little bit of balance. There's always going to be something new. There's always going to be something bigger. But we also need to find some space to step back and just observe like what's happening in the world.

Dave Gerhardt: This is why you need goals. Goals should frame what you're going to focus in what you're going to spend your time on. And I always try to push back on, and I'm the number one culprit of suggesting new ideas. When we don't, we don't. We don't need them and being a distraction for the team. I love those discussions, like with the team that me, for example, I might suggest something. And because we have a very clear goal setting process, they would say, Yeah, this is a cool idea, Dave. But is this more important than these three things that we're working on right now, which we've declared are the most important things that we're working on because they serve X, Y and Z goal? And I'm like, No, you're right. OK, cool. It's my job to suggest new ideas and push the team. But if you have clear goals and guardrails and a lot of my marketing teams don't have that and I've fallen in that trap before, and it's a mistake, which is you've got to have some type of operating principle. So here are the goals for our team here. The objectives that we set like basically, how do we think we're going to achieve those goals? And this is the thing that we're going to work on. Those things should be priority number one. If we're good in those areas and or have bonus time to go and do them, then that's when we should go explore the new things. But I think you need that scoreboard to fall back on. Otherwise you're just like, it's going to be it's going to be endless.

Chris Byers: When you're striving, you're not hitting the goal. What do you do to like, make sure you don't hit that moment? Burnout.

Dave Gerhardt: It's tough nobody likes missing goals, but like at the end, I think first it's you're you're not going to hit the goal every single week, every single month, every single quarter, every single year. And a lot of times marketing is not the sole reason why you're not. Why you're not hitting the goal, sometimes it is right, but I think it's it's your job in marketing to not only hit the goal, but to understand why you are not hitting the goal. And so if I'm not, if I'm not hitting our goals. Sometimes that's OK, it's a bummer, but I want to make sure that we can articulate why and have actions and plans for how we're going to fix that or what we might do, or if there's things we don't know the answer to. How can we know those things early on enough where we can bring them up to the CEO or the chief product officer, whoever and have productive conversations with other people? Ultimately, the best marketing is an amazing product, and I'm the biggest advocate for marketing. I'm not just saying you can just have a good product and exists, but like it's much easier to do marketing at Zoom than it is for Dave's water bottle store. And so I think you got to be able to, like, have conversations about your goals and marketing and say, Hey, where hey SEO, where we're going to miss our goal this quarter? Here's why. Here's what we're going to do about it. Here's two or three areas that we might want to have discussion about what we might need from other teams or things that we're seeing or churn is high in this area. So it's it's very rarely on you if it is a very specific marketing thing that to me, this can be some of the fun part of the job. Yeah, it's frustrating. You're not going to win every single time you go play mini golf, you're not going to make a hole in one every single time. So I think that's delusional that if you're going to be upset every time you miss a goal, it's OK to be competitive, but if you're going to be burnt out. But I think again, it goes so far back to setting clear goals and expectations because if you miss your goals and the team is burnt out and working like crazy, that to me says that you're most likely working on the wrong stuff. And so how do you improve the feedback loop with the team in your one on ones with campaign planning and whatever to like, at least have a good feeling of work on the right stuff? If I think that we're working on the right stuff and we miss, but we miss goals. That's OK. I'd rather miss that way than we're working on the wrong stuff and we're missing goals. That's where it starts to like to get into troublesome territory.

Chris Byers: I really like that idea of talking about the why and understanding the why of why you are or not hitting goals as CEO. I love that comment you made. I really don't mind when we the missed goal at times, especially and maybe only if if I know what, because otherwise I don't know where to jump in and help. I don't know where to give you some extra funds. I don't know where to redirect.

Dave Gerhardt: It could be not. It could be things not related to marketing. It could be like the product market fit has changed. A new competitor has come into the space. There isn't a need, there's lots of other things. And ultimately marketing is also just problem solving, and it's a channel to generate revenue for the company. And if that channel is not working, then you just go and run the five whys on it and figure out figure out why and then what are the next steps. And I think it's one thing to miss a goal and explain why that's OK. The best scenario is you miss a goal, you explain why and the team is presenting, and here's the four things that we're going to do about it. OK, great. At least feel like we're in control. And then if it goes in other weeks and months and quarters after that and you're still not making progress, and that's when you look, do we have the right team or do we have the right marketing strategy? Do we have the right people?

Chris Byers: Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Dave isn't afraid to think outside the box when it comes to B2B marketing. So if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to accomplish more with their marketing efforts?

Dave Gerhardt: I think an advantage that I am realizing now that I've created for myself is like my obsession and interest in marketing has been advantageous to my creativity because I'm just consuming so much content, whether that's books, podcasts, videos, seeing ads, watching talks. And that's the stuff that I'm interesting and reading about and learning about, and it's allowed me to almost be. I feel like I can be creative on demand now. Not that my ideas are always going to be good, but I can be creative on demand because I feel like I have enough of a bank of operating principles to be able to say, OK, yeah, I could probably come up with a creative idea for this ad. What's the goal, OK? And I have some kind of operating principles to help me come up with that. So I think like the more knowledge you can soak in about, like if you want to if you want to do better, if you want to do better ads, best way to do that is go and pick up a book. Hey, go read Hey Whipple, squeeze this, but then also go and look at become obsessed with looking at the creative of four or five brands that you think are inspirational for you. And then now that you're consuming that stuff all the time, the next time you have the blank slate, you have a little bit of a baseline link back to what I said earlier about role models. Almost everything that's been done has already been done, and so you should go and find a role model. So if you're going to launch your first event this year, go back and see what their first event look like in two thousand and three. Go see that web page. Go in the MIT Wayback Machine and go find that initial copy. You got to start there.

Chris Byers: As we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you want people to think about when it comes to bringing more humanity into B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I don't know if I would use the term humanity into B2B marketing, but for me, it's more just just be it be a real person. There is not B2B Dave versus B2C Dave versus consumer Dave. Like, I'm just Dave. You have to. Understand how Dave makes decisions and is motivated and so focused on studying people. Marketing is how can you be good at marketing if you don't understand how people make decisions? I think that's where you got to focus.

Chris Byers: What do you think people listening can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Dave Gerhardt: I think that there's a lot of stuff going on in the world, and I think that at the end of the day, marketing goal. Especially for for so many of us that are working at what, well-funded SAS companies, I think that it's not make or break, it's not the most important thing happening in the world. And I think that this last year has been an important reset for a lot of people in that sense. And so I'm not saying don't have ambitions and don't go try to hit big goals, but you've got to think about things in the context of what's happening in the world. And sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as marketers. And it's hard, right? If you're working from home, you're on slack, you're on email, you're on Zoom, you're just in this tunnel all day. Get outside. Take a step away. Go for a walk. Go work out. Have a drink of water, go for a hike. Go meditate. You need something that's going to get you out of the vacuum and realize that, yes, this is my job and I want to help my company succeed. And this is important. But however, you've got to be able to be spending time with your family and your kids and being outside and taking care of your health. There's always been this. You see these stories of just burnt out founders or exacts or I tell this one example, but this is pre-pandemic. But I listen to some podcast with the CMO of like a multibillion dollar company. And I think the CMO said, Yeah, the best part of my day is when I face time with my kids on the train ride into work. I'm like, when you face time with your kid, how about just be home? And I just think more people, this is a rant, but I want to just a big thing that I'm passionate about is my, my family and my time and. Being there with them and I'm going to do the best job for the company, and I love marketing goals, but like I tell my team today, you got to prioritize yourself, you have to prioritize yourself, you have to have that mental health space and sanity for yourself. And I think I don't necessarily have a lesson in this rant. I just wanted to put this out into the universe and hopefully someone will say, Oh yeah, it's not the end of the world. And I know that there's probably VCs and whoever out there that don't want to hear it don't want to hear that, Oh, here's a guy who doesn't want to grow. And that's not the truth. I think there's a fourth. This guy, Brad Stolberg is an author, and he did some work. He spoke at our events at Drift back in the day. He always tweets about this formula. Stress plus rest equals growth. And I love that there's going to be time to work, but there's also going to be time to unplug and do your thing. And I get my best ideas for work. When I'm not sitting at the computer, I'll go play golf for four hours or go for a walk, or I'll go work out. And it's like when you're sub, when you're like unconscious mind is not actively working. That's when all the good stuff happens. So you just got to make sure that you take that time to well.

Chris Byers: So as a final question, one of the conversations will often have with people or just a question is how do you view failure and when that plays out in your life, how do you view it? What's the lesson you learn from it? Or how do you think about it?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's a learning. I don't think it's a failure. I don't think it's a failure. I think it's a learning. I think every mistake that I've made at work over the last 10 years has actually made me better because I've already made those mistakes now. So I know better or I should know better or I've made hiring mistakes. But I've had to have made hiring mistakes and hire that person and fire that person or whatever, or try that idea and have it flop like that. That's all. Those are all like learning credits that are now in my bank. And so I can lean on them, I can rely on them. And so they have made me better. And everybody likes failure is relative. If you said, if you create a marketing campaign, it doesn't work. Is that a failure or did you now just learn that this type of campaign didn't work for some particular reason? And now you've eliminated one decision? And so the next time you don't, you have it easier. OK, we know that doesn't work. So we're going to start here. Every failures are learning.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work. Head over to practicallygenius.com Also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Ripple Effect.

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Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

Podcast

Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

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Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

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Chris Byers: Dave Gerhardt is regarded as one of the leading brand builders in B2B today. An author, a podcast host, and community builder with his DG marketing group of over 2500 members. Before joining Privy, he led marketing at Drift for over four years and helped create one of the fastest growing SAS companies in the world. How has he been able to stand out and make an impact in B2B marketing? That's the story will uncover in this episode. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact our decisions create.

Chris Byers: Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Byers: Let's just start with what's the opportunity today with B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I love giving marketing advice, for sure. However, I think the challenge with that is it's not a it's not a paint by numbers approach. And so even if you hear something that you think is maybe interesting or insightful from us today, there's ultimately so many factors that that go on inside of the company. Your companies, your customers, your price point, the market, the competition. There's so many factors that could be contributing to your success in marketing. And so there's a lot there. Don't take anybody's paint by numbers approach to marketing. However, I do think that one of the biggest misconceptions in B2B is that it has to be so different than consumer marketing B2C, whatever you want to call it. When I think that what's happened now is we're all just we're all just consumers, and the opportunity is as a B2B brand, you can have a direct relationship with your customers. And that's not just for direct to consumer brands, that's for B2B meaning. If you sell financial software, you can go and reach all of your customers online and you can use all of those channels to really build an audience and build an audience of your dream customers. And so I think like one thing that I've been championing for a couple of years now is just, you don't have to do B2B marketing like traditional B2B marketing in order to be successful, just because that's how everyone's always done it. I think the key is to go back and study like how people make decisions and look at where people are spending time. So not where it be to be buyer spending time. Because guess what? I'm a B2B buyer, I'm a CMO, but I'm also a dad. I'm also a husband, I'm also a golfer. And so I'm a consumer. I'm doing all those things in other channels, too. Don't just go look at what Gartner and Forrester and serious decisions and whoever CMO, what what they're talking about, go and study what people are doing. Go study how people are behaving. Not just today, but go back and study like social psychology and direct response advertising and learn the timeless kind of principles of marketing. Those are my favorite things to think about applying to B2B today.

Chris Byers: I think it can easily be thought of as frankly, a little bit boring to, you know, that B2B marketing. We think of big brands like Nike and consumer ads. I'm curious, what are some examples of maybe some brands or things you've seen in the market that you think are good examples of ways people are doing B2B marketing and it just a much better way.

Dave Gerhardt: I always give this example now and I'm mad at myself because they don't have another one. I think Drift has historically done a good job. I think this was a big thing that I was proud of when I was there, which is instead of building a brand about our product marketing and sales technology, we built a brand for marketers. And so everything that we did was focused on how do we build an audience and a community of marketing people? And if we can do that, if we can get them to trust us through our content and our relationships and our community that can give us a moat. And so I think, like the drift marketing strategy was very strong. Because of that, I think Gong Gio and Gong is a great example of a company that's doing that in that they clearly know their audience. They clearly know the persona that they're selling to. They don't just write 500 word clickbait blog posts. They publish in-depth reports about objection handling. They do a good job of leading content first. I think the best marketing strategy today, if you're a B2B brand, is to be perceived as the expert in your niche. And so if you're going and you're selling to salespeople, how can you build a brand around? Hey, we are the number-one brand to follow if you want to get better at sales because that has nothing to do with gangs product that has everything to do with. I'm in sales. I want to follow their Instagram account. I want to follow their LinkedIn account because I want to do better at my job. And if I now create that relationship for that brand, guess who I'm going to buy from? Because most people are not really just buying one product, they're shopping. And so if I'm shopping around when it's time for me to buy product, it can help me. Record sales calls. It manages sales team performance. The first brand I'm going to turn to is the brand that I've been listening to podcast for six months, and I've been always getting interesting stuff from on LinkedIn.

Chris Byers: And I think you've touched on it just a little bit in some of the ways that people think about brand, probably in the wrong way that let's just write some more content that is promoting ourselves. Yeah. What are the things you think brands get wrong?

Dave Gerhardt: So one is they think about themselves first and we're all selfish and. Whether you will admit that publicly or not, it's OK, because if there's a public version of being selfish, but also we're just wired to think for ourselves and defend for ourselves first. And so I see a lot of companies putting out messaging into the world that is very company focused. Whereas no talk, talk about me, come to me, I'll give you I'll give you one example of this. Somebody reached out to me the other day and they said, Hey, have you ever done anything with like an influencer type partnership? I said, No, we would like you to try our software. We'll let you try it for free, and then we'd like you to write about it and tell your followers on LinkedIn as like why in the world what? I want to do that? Why would I do that? It makes no said there's nothing in it for me to do it that way. And so I think that's one small example of that is the thing that most B2B brands get wrong is they don't have a deep understanding of what are the wants and needs and desires of the customer. And so they just lead with their we're the leading cloud based A.I. whatever garbage jargon kind of descriptions, everything starts with a selfish benefit. And so the very first thing is like, what is a selfish benefit of using my product as a customer instead of just generating leads or generating revenue? You might get promoted in your job. You might progress your career faster. You might be seen as a leader and an expert in your industry. You might get more credibility and trust inside of the company, right? Those are all like fundamental human desires that a lot of companies don't try to lead with. The other thing is, I see a lot of creative that isn't very creative in that. If you scroll through LinkedIn and you just see ads, they all look the same. They all look like ads. And I think a lot of times we don't look at the context of the channel that we're trying to create content in. And so if you're advertising on LinkedIn, the very first thing that I would be doing is going and looking at what is all the other creative and content. What is that that's already being advertised on LinkedIn? What does that look like? Because so often all of us are just scrolling aimlessly through our feeds. I want mine to stand out. I want mine to be the opposite. I want mine to interrupt the pattern of you scrolling, and that doesn't mean that I have to do it in a click baity, annoying, in-your-face kind of way. It means that I need to understand the context of what's happening that channel, because the best product is not always going to win. Oftentimes, when you're trying to promote your stuff on social media or content or whatever, you have to actually be interesting. And so to do that, you've got to look at what's happening. I see a lot of basically like kind of stock image looking creative where I would just take an iPhone video with some text on it on LinkedIn as an ad would probably perform much better than the highly sanitized looking banner.

Chris Byers: So my guess is in the marketing group that you have 2500 plus people, they're thinking about problems like this and challenges. What are the things that are top of mind for them that they're thinking about these days?

Dave Gerhardt: I think there's been a huge shift to marketers focusing on revenue first. I'm seeing a lot of marketers who it's awesome because they're really focused on marketing as a team, as responsible for delivering revenue, not marketing as a team that's responsible for getting us branded frisbees and pens and T-shirts and swag for the event. Marketing is like the key driver of revenue in the company. And with that, also seeing CEOs thinking about marketing from that perspective, more CEOs wanting to invest in marketing, more CEOs wanting to take chances and do more interesting and creative things in marketing to serve those revenue goals.

Chris Byers: Talked a little bit about this how to make inroads with your customers. It's really taking their needs and wants and desires into play. But I think most marketing people arrive to their job. And then even these days, to your point, they're going to get an MQ l goal or a lead goal or a follower goal. So how do I like skip through that and get started saying OK, but I need to connect with people? What do you think those first steps are?

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, I think the first step is to listen to the customers. And unless you're joining a company where you have no customers, most times you're going in and you're taking a job or you're working on a new initiative, and you have to remember that everything like we do a lot of things in marketing, but the whole point is to get customers. And so you have to have your finger on the pulse of what customers are talking about, what they're thinking about and what's amazing is like that used to be, Oh hey, Sarah, can I join a couple of your sales calls next week? OK? And I got to go sit at Sarah's desk with her or dial into a Zoom call. Hey, Dave, from the marketing teams on, and that's fine. But also what's really cool now is you can use a product like Gong and there's even just listening to like Zoom recordings. That stuff is so easily available. When I joined Privy, the very first thing that I did was I got the gong app on my phone and literally for two weeks, I took any time that I would listen to an audio book or podcast instead or work out what, like, why I was working on. I was literally listening to customer calls, and it was amazing because in the course of two weeks, I probably listen to 40 50 customer calls and on my own schedule, on my own time, on my phone and through that you start to be able to hear the words customers are using start to be able to do some pattern matching. And by the way, if you ever listen to customer calls, you know that every customer is different. Yes. But let's say of those 50 calls, 80 percent of the questions are going to be the same. And ultimately, the best thing you can do as a marketer is get inside of the head of your customer. I think social media is great because you can just passively see what people are talking about. But pairing that with listening to sales calls and having a close relationship with the sales team and support team, that stuff really goes a long way for understanding your customer.

Chris Byers: I love that you mentioned pattern recognition would love for you to talk just a little bit more about that. Do you think that's important and thinking about connecting with customers?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's important with knowing what to create in order to connect with customers, because like connecting with customers in order to connect with a customer, you have to create something, whether that's you're sending an email or you making a video or you're doing a podcast like it's got to be something there. And so how can you know what to create? You have to be able to like, have, I think one of the underrated skills that doesn't get talked about enough in marketing is having taste and not taste for designing your apartment, but like taste for understanding what things might be interesting to customers. And so like when you go and listen to 10, 20, 30, 40 calls, the same things start to come up over and over and so you can start to think about. Everyone has this one objection about they think it's too expensive. OK. So should we just do nothing about that? Should we complain to the product team and change the pricing? Or should I think about it? Huh? How can I as a marker? What can I do to help with that objection? Here's an idea. What if we had a page on our website that was perfect com slash proof? And it was all case studies and testimonials, and there was an ROI calculator on there and we could have people, you know, fill that out as part of the process. OK, cool. So now let's say you solve that problem, and two months later, you're hearing less questions come up about that objection. That's an amazing use of marketing.

Chris Byers: Tell us a little bit about GMG. Why it's needed. What are you trying to solve in the world?

Dave Gerhardt: What happened was I started my own private podcast through Patreon when I left drift and that thing grew so fast. In a couple of months, it was five hundred members and I relearned the most important lesson in marketing, which is, man, if you have an audience, the value of learning through that audience is so powerful and so through, let's say, the first 500 paying members of my patron. I learned that yes, some people, some crazy people out there want to hear my rants and ravings about marketing. But most of the people in here, wow, they're asking questions about hiring and campaign planning and presenting to the board and managing up. And how do you hire product marketing person? What are good interview questions for an intern? And it was through that community that that that Patreon group that I was like, Whoa, there's something bigger in here. And so that ended up launching a community which is on Facebook and then through that community on Facebook continued discussion about that type of stuff, and it continued to grow. Now today it's 2500 members, and I just launched something called GMG University, which is I wanted to have one library where you can go as a marketer and type in presenting to the board and you'll find two videos and a template, for example. And you know, maybe you can go through that stuff before your next board meeting. And so the need was I didn't know it was there, but it was through the audience. I learned that there was this hunger for marketing content. I knew it because I the only reason I was able to launch my Patreon was because of LinkedIn. There was enough people who were interested in my stuff and comments via LinkedIn and Twitter that that's how I got my first couple hundred members on Patreon. But then it was through that group that you learn, Wow, there's something bigger here people want. They literally want a college education. They want Netflix for marketing. They want masterclass. Com for marketing content. It's marketing. I like talking about marketing. I like doing stuff for marketing. I like creating content. So that kind of led to piecing this thing together, and it's just continued to grow from there. People have this hunger to invest in them in themselves. And yeah, sure, I'll spend one hundred bucks a year or two hundred bucks a year, and most people expand it to their company anyway, learning how to get better at my job. And I think it's become a pretty cool thing. A single thing that I learned in school, high school and college. That's not to knock either of those places, but it hasn't helped me in my career in marketing. I came up with this tagline for GMG, which I think is so true, which is no one goes to school for B2B marketing, and I've seen that the most valuable things for me. As a first time marketing leader, let's say a drift was like getting outside of the four walls of my company, like meeting the director of marketing at Marketo, at lunch at Saaster, picking her brain and being like, Wow, I just learned so much. I just learned so much internal things like, here's how Marketo does it. And I felt that myself and I got addicted to like watching videos and listening to podcasts. And so I you worked at an amazing company, but I also educated myself and I invested in myself. And I think it's one way of, I don't know, I wanted to create this content and put it back out in the world to help other people get better at their jobs in marketing. Because I think so much of what we do in B2B marketing, like you get caught up in such meaningless stuff, the perfect template for planning your campaigns are creating your budget or like what the best practice framework is. And it's so much of that stuff should just be decisions that should be eliminated because it's like here, just use this like there's 15 different ways you could do positioning, but here's this one that I really like. It gets the job done and it's going to get you what you need, and you should not be spending five hours out of your week deciding I want positioning template to use. You should freaking pick up Positioning tab and use it and be getting feedback already.

Chris Byers: What advice do you have? For people who you may want to use their experience and expertize to teach and or equip, whether online or in a college classroom, what did you learn about how to get that message across?

Dave Gerhardt: For me, it's been like learning about something where there's value back to me. I liked copywriting. I liked marketing. And so by being by focusing on like getting better at the specific example from drifters like David pushed me to study copywriting and direct response advertising because there's a bunch of natural things you already do. If you learn these, you'll be able to unlock. So what that did was he showed me like, Hey, don't try to become this T-shaped marketer. Don't worry about trying to study SAS metrics and conversion rate optimization and SEO and marketing automation. Just focus on copywriting. And so the thing that changed for me with learning was like learning with the I still don't enjoy reading. It's not like what I sit down to do to just pass an hour. But I read every day because I read to learn about something specific. And so I think if you want to become a marketing leader or you want to become a video producer or you want to become a product marketing leader, like it's way better to zone in on that particular topic and then go deep on that topic as opposed to try to pick from everything. And I think that really helped, which was like, Hey, you don't have to go and try to be great at all. These things pick out the one thing. I think the other thing is, look for you've got to find a role model or two. For example, if I wanted to become great at product marketing, I wouldn't study every product marketer I would go and find like, who's one or two like amazing product marketing leaders that are maybe five years ahead of me, literally go find their LinkedIn profile and try to go and follow and see everything that they've done and find that journey. Because, like history, just histories is the best like lesson. Like even now, like in 2020, I started reading a lot of history books because I wanted to just get some context for what was happening in the world and everything has already happened. That's happening right now in some form or another. And that's what makes history so powerful. And I think the same is true for trying to understand your journey. So if you're a marketing manager, you want to become CMO, go and find one or two CMO that you think might work for a company that you like or have done some things in your career that you want to do and just focus on studying the moves of those one or two people as opposed to like everyone in that industry. So the same way you're going to focus on one or two core strengths go and focus on one or two core people. And also one or two core resources. I used to get paralyzed by that to keep up with everything. I got to read every marketing blog. If I'm going to know everything and nope, I don't need, I don't need to do that will take forever to try to keep up, and you'll never make any progress. So instead, I was like, You know what? I'm just going to read Saaster content. OK, great. And I think like, you just got to pick one or two kind of channels and producers to go deep on.

Chris Byers: Also talking just about that idea of you talk about progress and keep the bit of the keeping up with the Joneses. Like the moment you do something great, the bad news is you get to do something greater next. How do you manage that kind of balance of being creative and innovative? But I don't know. You can't always be on to the next thing. You have to have some, some balance there.

Dave Gerhardt: Part of it is like, welcome to the job in marketing, and that is what it is, which is you just did something ridiculous. Great. You've just reset the bar for what we need from you. And that is what it is. You just got to accept that as part of the job, which is if you do great things, people are just going to continue to want more. If you hit big goals, people are going to continue to want bigger goals. That's kind of part of the growth, the growth climbing.

Chris Byers: I love it. I know I've been thinking a lot about, especially coming out of tough year last year. There is this kind of moment of you do need to, I don't know, just find a little bit of balance. There's always going to be something new. There's always going to be something bigger. But we also need to find some space to step back and just observe like what's happening in the world.

Dave Gerhardt: This is why you need goals. Goals should frame what you're going to focus in what you're going to spend your time on. And I always try to push back on, and I'm the number one culprit of suggesting new ideas. When we don't, we don't. We don't need them and being a distraction for the team. I love those discussions, like with the team that me, for example, I might suggest something. And because we have a very clear goal setting process, they would say, Yeah, this is a cool idea, Dave. But is this more important than these three things that we're working on right now, which we've declared are the most important things that we're working on because they serve X, Y and Z goal? And I'm like, No, you're right. OK, cool. It's my job to suggest new ideas and push the team. But if you have clear goals and guardrails and a lot of my marketing teams don't have that and I've fallen in that trap before, and it's a mistake, which is you've got to have some type of operating principle. So here are the goals for our team here. The objectives that we set like basically, how do we think we're going to achieve those goals? And this is the thing that we're going to work on. Those things should be priority number one. If we're good in those areas and or have bonus time to go and do them, then that's when we should go explore the new things. But I think you need that scoreboard to fall back on. Otherwise you're just like, it's going to be it's going to be endless.

Chris Byers: When you're striving, you're not hitting the goal. What do you do to like, make sure you don't hit that moment? Burnout.

Dave Gerhardt: It's tough nobody likes missing goals, but like at the end, I think first it's you're you're not going to hit the goal every single week, every single month, every single quarter, every single year. And a lot of times marketing is not the sole reason why you're not. Why you're not hitting the goal, sometimes it is right, but I think it's it's your job in marketing to not only hit the goal, but to understand why you are not hitting the goal. And so if I'm not, if I'm not hitting our goals. Sometimes that's OK, it's a bummer, but I want to make sure that we can articulate why and have actions and plans for how we're going to fix that or what we might do, or if there's things we don't know the answer to. How can we know those things early on enough where we can bring them up to the CEO or the chief product officer, whoever and have productive conversations with other people? Ultimately, the best marketing is an amazing product, and I'm the biggest advocate for marketing. I'm not just saying you can just have a good product and exists, but like it's much easier to do marketing at Zoom than it is for Dave's water bottle store. And so I think you got to be able to, like, have conversations about your goals and marketing and say, Hey, where hey SEO, where we're going to miss our goal this quarter? Here's why. Here's what we're going to do about it. Here's two or three areas that we might want to have discussion about what we might need from other teams or things that we're seeing or churn is high in this area. So it's it's very rarely on you if it is a very specific marketing thing that to me, this can be some of the fun part of the job. Yeah, it's frustrating. You're not going to win every single time you go play mini golf, you're not going to make a hole in one every single time. So I think that's delusional that if you're going to be upset every time you miss a goal, it's OK to be competitive, but if you're going to be burnt out. But I think again, it goes so far back to setting clear goals and expectations because if you miss your goals and the team is burnt out and working like crazy, that to me says that you're most likely working on the wrong stuff. And so how do you improve the feedback loop with the team in your one on ones with campaign planning and whatever to like, at least have a good feeling of work on the right stuff? If I think that we're working on the right stuff and we miss, but we miss goals. That's OK. I'd rather miss that way than we're working on the wrong stuff and we're missing goals. That's where it starts to like to get into troublesome territory.

Chris Byers: I really like that idea of talking about the why and understanding the why of why you are or not hitting goals as CEO. I love that comment you made. I really don't mind when we the missed goal at times, especially and maybe only if if I know what, because otherwise I don't know where to jump in and help. I don't know where to give you some extra funds. I don't know where to redirect.

Dave Gerhardt: It could be not. It could be things not related to marketing. It could be like the product market fit has changed. A new competitor has come into the space. There isn't a need, there's lots of other things. And ultimately marketing is also just problem solving, and it's a channel to generate revenue for the company. And if that channel is not working, then you just go and run the five whys on it and figure out figure out why and then what are the next steps. And I think it's one thing to miss a goal and explain why that's OK. The best scenario is you miss a goal, you explain why and the team is presenting, and here's the four things that we're going to do about it. OK, great. At least feel like we're in control. And then if it goes in other weeks and months and quarters after that and you're still not making progress, and that's when you look, do we have the right team or do we have the right marketing strategy? Do we have the right people?

Chris Byers: Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Dave isn't afraid to think outside the box when it comes to B2B marketing. So if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to accomplish more with their marketing efforts?

Dave Gerhardt: I think an advantage that I am realizing now that I've created for myself is like my obsession and interest in marketing has been advantageous to my creativity because I'm just consuming so much content, whether that's books, podcasts, videos, seeing ads, watching talks. And that's the stuff that I'm interesting and reading about and learning about, and it's allowed me to almost be. I feel like I can be creative on demand now. Not that my ideas are always going to be good, but I can be creative on demand because I feel like I have enough of a bank of operating principles to be able to say, OK, yeah, I could probably come up with a creative idea for this ad. What's the goal, OK? And I have some kind of operating principles to help me come up with that. So I think like the more knowledge you can soak in about, like if you want to if you want to do better, if you want to do better ads, best way to do that is go and pick up a book. Hey, go read Hey Whipple, squeeze this, but then also go and look at become obsessed with looking at the creative of four or five brands that you think are inspirational for you. And then now that you're consuming that stuff all the time, the next time you have the blank slate, you have a little bit of a baseline link back to what I said earlier about role models. Almost everything that's been done has already been done, and so you should go and find a role model. So if you're going to launch your first event this year, go back and see what their first event look like in two thousand and three. Go see that web page. Go in the MIT Wayback Machine and go find that initial copy. You got to start there.

Chris Byers: As we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you want people to think about when it comes to bringing more humanity into B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I don't know if I would use the term humanity into B2B marketing, but for me, it's more just just be it be a real person. There is not B2B Dave versus B2C Dave versus consumer Dave. Like, I'm just Dave. You have to. Understand how Dave makes decisions and is motivated and so focused on studying people. Marketing is how can you be good at marketing if you don't understand how people make decisions? I think that's where you got to focus.

Chris Byers: What do you think people listening can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Dave Gerhardt: I think that there's a lot of stuff going on in the world, and I think that at the end of the day, marketing goal. Especially for for so many of us that are working at what, well-funded SAS companies, I think that it's not make or break, it's not the most important thing happening in the world. And I think that this last year has been an important reset for a lot of people in that sense. And so I'm not saying don't have ambitions and don't go try to hit big goals, but you've got to think about things in the context of what's happening in the world. And sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as marketers. And it's hard, right? If you're working from home, you're on slack, you're on email, you're on Zoom, you're just in this tunnel all day. Get outside. Take a step away. Go for a walk. Go work out. Have a drink of water, go for a hike. Go meditate. You need something that's going to get you out of the vacuum and realize that, yes, this is my job and I want to help my company succeed. And this is important. But however, you've got to be able to be spending time with your family and your kids and being outside and taking care of your health. There's always been this. You see these stories of just burnt out founders or exacts or I tell this one example, but this is pre-pandemic. But I listen to some podcast with the CMO of like a multibillion dollar company. And I think the CMO said, Yeah, the best part of my day is when I face time with my kids on the train ride into work. I'm like, when you face time with your kid, how about just be home? And I just think more people, this is a rant, but I want to just a big thing that I'm passionate about is my, my family and my time and. Being there with them and I'm going to do the best job for the company, and I love marketing goals, but like I tell my team today, you got to prioritize yourself, you have to prioritize yourself, you have to have that mental health space and sanity for yourself. And I think I don't necessarily have a lesson in this rant. I just wanted to put this out into the universe and hopefully someone will say, Oh yeah, it's not the end of the world. And I know that there's probably VCs and whoever out there that don't want to hear it don't want to hear that, Oh, here's a guy who doesn't want to grow. And that's not the truth. I think there's a fourth. This guy, Brad Stolberg is an author, and he did some work. He spoke at our events at Drift back in the day. He always tweets about this formula. Stress plus rest equals growth. And I love that there's going to be time to work, but there's also going to be time to unplug and do your thing. And I get my best ideas for work. When I'm not sitting at the computer, I'll go play golf for four hours or go for a walk, or I'll go work out. And it's like when you're sub, when you're like unconscious mind is not actively working. That's when all the good stuff happens. So you just got to make sure that you take that time to well.

Chris Byers: So as a final question, one of the conversations will often have with people or just a question is how do you view failure and when that plays out in your life, how do you view it? What's the lesson you learn from it? Or how do you think about it?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's a learning. I don't think it's a failure. I don't think it's a failure. I think it's a learning. I think every mistake that I've made at work over the last 10 years has actually made me better because I've already made those mistakes now. So I know better or I should know better or I've made hiring mistakes. But I've had to have made hiring mistakes and hire that person and fire that person or whatever, or try that idea and have it flop like that. That's all. Those are all like learning credits that are now in my bank. And so I can lean on them, I can rely on them. And so they have made me better. And everybody likes failure is relative. If you said, if you create a marketing campaign, it doesn't work. Is that a failure or did you now just learn that this type of campaign didn't work for some particular reason? And now you've eliminated one decision? And so the next time you don't, you have it easier. OK, we know that doesn't work. So we're going to start here. Every failures are learning.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work. Head over to practicallygenius.com Also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Ripple Effect.

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Unlocking B2B Marketing Success with Dave Gerhardt

Dave Gerhardt reveals crucial steps B2B marketers can take to become better at their jobs. Learn how to build community, set goals, and face failure.
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Chris Byers: Dave Gerhardt is regarded as one of the leading brand builders in B2B today. An author, a podcast host, and community builder with his DG marketing group of over 2500 members. Before joining Privy, he led marketing at Drift for over four years and helped create one of the fastest growing SAS companies in the world. How has he been able to stand out and make an impact in B2B marketing? That's the story will uncover in this episode. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact our decisions create.

Chris Byers: Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Byers: Let's just start with what's the opportunity today with B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I love giving marketing advice, for sure. However, I think the challenge with that is it's not a it's not a paint by numbers approach. And so even if you hear something that you think is maybe interesting or insightful from us today, there's ultimately so many factors that that go on inside of the company. Your companies, your customers, your price point, the market, the competition. There's so many factors that could be contributing to your success in marketing. And so there's a lot there. Don't take anybody's paint by numbers approach to marketing. However, I do think that one of the biggest misconceptions in B2B is that it has to be so different than consumer marketing B2C, whatever you want to call it. When I think that what's happened now is we're all just we're all just consumers, and the opportunity is as a B2B brand, you can have a direct relationship with your customers. And that's not just for direct to consumer brands, that's for B2B meaning. If you sell financial software, you can go and reach all of your customers online and you can use all of those channels to really build an audience and build an audience of your dream customers. And so I think like one thing that I've been championing for a couple of years now is just, you don't have to do B2B marketing like traditional B2B marketing in order to be successful, just because that's how everyone's always done it. I think the key is to go back and study like how people make decisions and look at where people are spending time. So not where it be to be buyer spending time. Because guess what? I'm a B2B buyer, I'm a CMO, but I'm also a dad. I'm also a husband, I'm also a golfer. And so I'm a consumer. I'm doing all those things in other channels, too. Don't just go look at what Gartner and Forrester and serious decisions and whoever CMO, what what they're talking about, go and study what people are doing. Go study how people are behaving. Not just today, but go back and study like social psychology and direct response advertising and learn the timeless kind of principles of marketing. Those are my favorite things to think about applying to B2B today.

Chris Byers: I think it can easily be thought of as frankly, a little bit boring to, you know, that B2B marketing. We think of big brands like Nike and consumer ads. I'm curious, what are some examples of maybe some brands or things you've seen in the market that you think are good examples of ways people are doing B2B marketing and it just a much better way.

Dave Gerhardt: I always give this example now and I'm mad at myself because they don't have another one. I think Drift has historically done a good job. I think this was a big thing that I was proud of when I was there, which is instead of building a brand about our product marketing and sales technology, we built a brand for marketers. And so everything that we did was focused on how do we build an audience and a community of marketing people? And if we can do that, if we can get them to trust us through our content and our relationships and our community that can give us a moat. And so I think, like the drift marketing strategy was very strong. Because of that, I think Gong Gio and Gong is a great example of a company that's doing that in that they clearly know their audience. They clearly know the persona that they're selling to. They don't just write 500 word clickbait blog posts. They publish in-depth reports about objection handling. They do a good job of leading content first. I think the best marketing strategy today, if you're a B2B brand, is to be perceived as the expert in your niche. And so if you're going and you're selling to salespeople, how can you build a brand around? Hey, we are the number-one brand to follow if you want to get better at sales because that has nothing to do with gangs product that has everything to do with. I'm in sales. I want to follow their Instagram account. I want to follow their LinkedIn account because I want to do better at my job. And if I now create that relationship for that brand, guess who I'm going to buy from? Because most people are not really just buying one product, they're shopping. And so if I'm shopping around when it's time for me to buy product, it can help me. Record sales calls. It manages sales team performance. The first brand I'm going to turn to is the brand that I've been listening to podcast for six months, and I've been always getting interesting stuff from on LinkedIn.

Chris Byers: And I think you've touched on it just a little bit in some of the ways that people think about brand, probably in the wrong way that let's just write some more content that is promoting ourselves. Yeah. What are the things you think brands get wrong?

Dave Gerhardt: So one is they think about themselves first and we're all selfish and. Whether you will admit that publicly or not, it's OK, because if there's a public version of being selfish, but also we're just wired to think for ourselves and defend for ourselves first. And so I see a lot of companies putting out messaging into the world that is very company focused. Whereas no talk, talk about me, come to me, I'll give you I'll give you one example of this. Somebody reached out to me the other day and they said, Hey, have you ever done anything with like an influencer type partnership? I said, No, we would like you to try our software. We'll let you try it for free, and then we'd like you to write about it and tell your followers on LinkedIn as like why in the world what? I want to do that? Why would I do that? It makes no said there's nothing in it for me to do it that way. And so I think that's one small example of that is the thing that most B2B brands get wrong is they don't have a deep understanding of what are the wants and needs and desires of the customer. And so they just lead with their we're the leading cloud based A.I. whatever garbage jargon kind of descriptions, everything starts with a selfish benefit. And so the very first thing is like, what is a selfish benefit of using my product as a customer instead of just generating leads or generating revenue? You might get promoted in your job. You might progress your career faster. You might be seen as a leader and an expert in your industry. You might get more credibility and trust inside of the company, right? Those are all like fundamental human desires that a lot of companies don't try to lead with. The other thing is, I see a lot of creative that isn't very creative in that. If you scroll through LinkedIn and you just see ads, they all look the same. They all look like ads. And I think a lot of times we don't look at the context of the channel that we're trying to create content in. And so if you're advertising on LinkedIn, the very first thing that I would be doing is going and looking at what is all the other creative and content. What is that that's already being advertised on LinkedIn? What does that look like? Because so often all of us are just scrolling aimlessly through our feeds. I want mine to stand out. I want mine to be the opposite. I want mine to interrupt the pattern of you scrolling, and that doesn't mean that I have to do it in a click baity, annoying, in-your-face kind of way. It means that I need to understand the context of what's happening that channel, because the best product is not always going to win. Oftentimes, when you're trying to promote your stuff on social media or content or whatever, you have to actually be interesting. And so to do that, you've got to look at what's happening. I see a lot of basically like kind of stock image looking creative where I would just take an iPhone video with some text on it on LinkedIn as an ad would probably perform much better than the highly sanitized looking banner.

Chris Byers: So my guess is in the marketing group that you have 2500 plus people, they're thinking about problems like this and challenges. What are the things that are top of mind for them that they're thinking about these days?

Dave Gerhardt: I think there's been a huge shift to marketers focusing on revenue first. I'm seeing a lot of marketers who it's awesome because they're really focused on marketing as a team, as responsible for delivering revenue, not marketing as a team that's responsible for getting us branded frisbees and pens and T-shirts and swag for the event. Marketing is like the key driver of revenue in the company. And with that, also seeing CEOs thinking about marketing from that perspective, more CEOs wanting to invest in marketing, more CEOs wanting to take chances and do more interesting and creative things in marketing to serve those revenue goals.

Chris Byers: Talked a little bit about this how to make inroads with your customers. It's really taking their needs and wants and desires into play. But I think most marketing people arrive to their job. And then even these days, to your point, they're going to get an MQ l goal or a lead goal or a follower goal. So how do I like skip through that and get started saying OK, but I need to connect with people? What do you think those first steps are?

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, I think the first step is to listen to the customers. And unless you're joining a company where you have no customers, most times you're going in and you're taking a job or you're working on a new initiative, and you have to remember that everything like we do a lot of things in marketing, but the whole point is to get customers. And so you have to have your finger on the pulse of what customers are talking about, what they're thinking about and what's amazing is like that used to be, Oh hey, Sarah, can I join a couple of your sales calls next week? OK? And I got to go sit at Sarah's desk with her or dial into a Zoom call. Hey, Dave, from the marketing teams on, and that's fine. But also what's really cool now is you can use a product like Gong and there's even just listening to like Zoom recordings. That stuff is so easily available. When I joined Privy, the very first thing that I did was I got the gong app on my phone and literally for two weeks, I took any time that I would listen to an audio book or podcast instead or work out what, like, why I was working on. I was literally listening to customer calls, and it was amazing because in the course of two weeks, I probably listen to 40 50 customer calls and on my own schedule, on my own time, on my phone and through that you start to be able to hear the words customers are using start to be able to do some pattern matching. And by the way, if you ever listen to customer calls, you know that every customer is different. Yes. But let's say of those 50 calls, 80 percent of the questions are going to be the same. And ultimately, the best thing you can do as a marketer is get inside of the head of your customer. I think social media is great because you can just passively see what people are talking about. But pairing that with listening to sales calls and having a close relationship with the sales team and support team, that stuff really goes a long way for understanding your customer.

Chris Byers: I love that you mentioned pattern recognition would love for you to talk just a little bit more about that. Do you think that's important and thinking about connecting with customers?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's important with knowing what to create in order to connect with customers, because like connecting with customers in order to connect with a customer, you have to create something, whether that's you're sending an email or you making a video or you're doing a podcast like it's got to be something there. And so how can you know what to create? You have to be able to like, have, I think one of the underrated skills that doesn't get talked about enough in marketing is having taste and not taste for designing your apartment, but like taste for understanding what things might be interesting to customers. And so like when you go and listen to 10, 20, 30, 40 calls, the same things start to come up over and over and so you can start to think about. Everyone has this one objection about they think it's too expensive. OK. So should we just do nothing about that? Should we complain to the product team and change the pricing? Or should I think about it? Huh? How can I as a marker? What can I do to help with that objection? Here's an idea. What if we had a page on our website that was perfect com slash proof? And it was all case studies and testimonials, and there was an ROI calculator on there and we could have people, you know, fill that out as part of the process. OK, cool. So now let's say you solve that problem, and two months later, you're hearing less questions come up about that objection. That's an amazing use of marketing.

Chris Byers: Tell us a little bit about GMG. Why it's needed. What are you trying to solve in the world?

Dave Gerhardt: What happened was I started my own private podcast through Patreon when I left drift and that thing grew so fast. In a couple of months, it was five hundred members and I relearned the most important lesson in marketing, which is, man, if you have an audience, the value of learning through that audience is so powerful and so through, let's say, the first 500 paying members of my patron. I learned that yes, some people, some crazy people out there want to hear my rants and ravings about marketing. But most of the people in here, wow, they're asking questions about hiring and campaign planning and presenting to the board and managing up. And how do you hire product marketing person? What are good interview questions for an intern? And it was through that community that that that Patreon group that I was like, Whoa, there's something bigger in here. And so that ended up launching a community which is on Facebook and then through that community on Facebook continued discussion about that type of stuff, and it continued to grow. Now today it's 2500 members, and I just launched something called GMG University, which is I wanted to have one library where you can go as a marketer and type in presenting to the board and you'll find two videos and a template, for example. And you know, maybe you can go through that stuff before your next board meeting. And so the need was I didn't know it was there, but it was through the audience. I learned that there was this hunger for marketing content. I knew it because I the only reason I was able to launch my Patreon was because of LinkedIn. There was enough people who were interested in my stuff and comments via LinkedIn and Twitter that that's how I got my first couple hundred members on Patreon. But then it was through that group that you learn, Wow, there's something bigger here people want. They literally want a college education. They want Netflix for marketing. They want masterclass. Com for marketing content. It's marketing. I like talking about marketing. I like doing stuff for marketing. I like creating content. So that kind of led to piecing this thing together, and it's just continued to grow from there. People have this hunger to invest in them in themselves. And yeah, sure, I'll spend one hundred bucks a year or two hundred bucks a year, and most people expand it to their company anyway, learning how to get better at my job. And I think it's become a pretty cool thing. A single thing that I learned in school, high school and college. That's not to knock either of those places, but it hasn't helped me in my career in marketing. I came up with this tagline for GMG, which I think is so true, which is no one goes to school for B2B marketing, and I've seen that the most valuable things for me. As a first time marketing leader, let's say a drift was like getting outside of the four walls of my company, like meeting the director of marketing at Marketo, at lunch at Saaster, picking her brain and being like, Wow, I just learned so much. I just learned so much internal things like, here's how Marketo does it. And I felt that myself and I got addicted to like watching videos and listening to podcasts. And so I you worked at an amazing company, but I also educated myself and I invested in myself. And I think it's one way of, I don't know, I wanted to create this content and put it back out in the world to help other people get better at their jobs in marketing. Because I think so much of what we do in B2B marketing, like you get caught up in such meaningless stuff, the perfect template for planning your campaigns are creating your budget or like what the best practice framework is. And it's so much of that stuff should just be decisions that should be eliminated because it's like here, just use this like there's 15 different ways you could do positioning, but here's this one that I really like. It gets the job done and it's going to get you what you need, and you should not be spending five hours out of your week deciding I want positioning template to use. You should freaking pick up Positioning tab and use it and be getting feedback already.

Chris Byers: What advice do you have? For people who you may want to use their experience and expertize to teach and or equip, whether online or in a college classroom, what did you learn about how to get that message across?

Dave Gerhardt: For me, it's been like learning about something where there's value back to me. I liked copywriting. I liked marketing. And so by being by focusing on like getting better at the specific example from drifters like David pushed me to study copywriting and direct response advertising because there's a bunch of natural things you already do. If you learn these, you'll be able to unlock. So what that did was he showed me like, Hey, don't try to become this T-shaped marketer. Don't worry about trying to study SAS metrics and conversion rate optimization and SEO and marketing automation. Just focus on copywriting. And so the thing that changed for me with learning was like learning with the I still don't enjoy reading. It's not like what I sit down to do to just pass an hour. But I read every day because I read to learn about something specific. And so I think if you want to become a marketing leader or you want to become a video producer or you want to become a product marketing leader, like it's way better to zone in on that particular topic and then go deep on that topic as opposed to try to pick from everything. And I think that really helped, which was like, Hey, you don't have to go and try to be great at all. These things pick out the one thing. I think the other thing is, look for you've got to find a role model or two. For example, if I wanted to become great at product marketing, I wouldn't study every product marketer I would go and find like, who's one or two like amazing product marketing leaders that are maybe five years ahead of me, literally go find their LinkedIn profile and try to go and follow and see everything that they've done and find that journey. Because, like history, just histories is the best like lesson. Like even now, like in 2020, I started reading a lot of history books because I wanted to just get some context for what was happening in the world and everything has already happened. That's happening right now in some form or another. And that's what makes history so powerful. And I think the same is true for trying to understand your journey. So if you're a marketing manager, you want to become CMO, go and find one or two CMO that you think might work for a company that you like or have done some things in your career that you want to do and just focus on studying the moves of those one or two people as opposed to like everyone in that industry. So the same way you're going to focus on one or two core strengths go and focus on one or two core people. And also one or two core resources. I used to get paralyzed by that to keep up with everything. I got to read every marketing blog. If I'm going to know everything and nope, I don't need, I don't need to do that will take forever to try to keep up, and you'll never make any progress. So instead, I was like, You know what? I'm just going to read Saaster content. OK, great. And I think like, you just got to pick one or two kind of channels and producers to go deep on.

Chris Byers: Also talking just about that idea of you talk about progress and keep the bit of the keeping up with the Joneses. Like the moment you do something great, the bad news is you get to do something greater next. How do you manage that kind of balance of being creative and innovative? But I don't know. You can't always be on to the next thing. You have to have some, some balance there.

Dave Gerhardt: Part of it is like, welcome to the job in marketing, and that is what it is, which is you just did something ridiculous. Great. You've just reset the bar for what we need from you. And that is what it is. You just got to accept that as part of the job, which is if you do great things, people are just going to continue to want more. If you hit big goals, people are going to continue to want bigger goals. That's kind of part of the growth, the growth climbing.

Chris Byers: I love it. I know I've been thinking a lot about, especially coming out of tough year last year. There is this kind of moment of you do need to, I don't know, just find a little bit of balance. There's always going to be something new. There's always going to be something bigger. But we also need to find some space to step back and just observe like what's happening in the world.

Dave Gerhardt: This is why you need goals. Goals should frame what you're going to focus in what you're going to spend your time on. And I always try to push back on, and I'm the number one culprit of suggesting new ideas. When we don't, we don't. We don't need them and being a distraction for the team. I love those discussions, like with the team that me, for example, I might suggest something. And because we have a very clear goal setting process, they would say, Yeah, this is a cool idea, Dave. But is this more important than these three things that we're working on right now, which we've declared are the most important things that we're working on because they serve X, Y and Z goal? And I'm like, No, you're right. OK, cool. It's my job to suggest new ideas and push the team. But if you have clear goals and guardrails and a lot of my marketing teams don't have that and I've fallen in that trap before, and it's a mistake, which is you've got to have some type of operating principle. So here are the goals for our team here. The objectives that we set like basically, how do we think we're going to achieve those goals? And this is the thing that we're going to work on. Those things should be priority number one. If we're good in those areas and or have bonus time to go and do them, then that's when we should go explore the new things. But I think you need that scoreboard to fall back on. Otherwise you're just like, it's going to be it's going to be endless.

Chris Byers: When you're striving, you're not hitting the goal. What do you do to like, make sure you don't hit that moment? Burnout.

Dave Gerhardt: It's tough nobody likes missing goals, but like at the end, I think first it's you're you're not going to hit the goal every single week, every single month, every single quarter, every single year. And a lot of times marketing is not the sole reason why you're not. Why you're not hitting the goal, sometimes it is right, but I think it's it's your job in marketing to not only hit the goal, but to understand why you are not hitting the goal. And so if I'm not, if I'm not hitting our goals. Sometimes that's OK, it's a bummer, but I want to make sure that we can articulate why and have actions and plans for how we're going to fix that or what we might do, or if there's things we don't know the answer to. How can we know those things early on enough where we can bring them up to the CEO or the chief product officer, whoever and have productive conversations with other people? Ultimately, the best marketing is an amazing product, and I'm the biggest advocate for marketing. I'm not just saying you can just have a good product and exists, but like it's much easier to do marketing at Zoom than it is for Dave's water bottle store. And so I think you got to be able to, like, have conversations about your goals and marketing and say, Hey, where hey SEO, where we're going to miss our goal this quarter? Here's why. Here's what we're going to do about it. Here's two or three areas that we might want to have discussion about what we might need from other teams or things that we're seeing or churn is high in this area. So it's it's very rarely on you if it is a very specific marketing thing that to me, this can be some of the fun part of the job. Yeah, it's frustrating. You're not going to win every single time you go play mini golf, you're not going to make a hole in one every single time. So I think that's delusional that if you're going to be upset every time you miss a goal, it's OK to be competitive, but if you're going to be burnt out. But I think again, it goes so far back to setting clear goals and expectations because if you miss your goals and the team is burnt out and working like crazy, that to me says that you're most likely working on the wrong stuff. And so how do you improve the feedback loop with the team in your one on ones with campaign planning and whatever to like, at least have a good feeling of work on the right stuff? If I think that we're working on the right stuff and we miss, but we miss goals. That's OK. I'd rather miss that way than we're working on the wrong stuff and we're missing goals. That's where it starts to like to get into troublesome territory.

Chris Byers: I really like that idea of talking about the why and understanding the why of why you are or not hitting goals as CEO. I love that comment you made. I really don't mind when we the missed goal at times, especially and maybe only if if I know what, because otherwise I don't know where to jump in and help. I don't know where to give you some extra funds. I don't know where to redirect.

Dave Gerhardt: It could be not. It could be things not related to marketing. It could be like the product market fit has changed. A new competitor has come into the space. There isn't a need, there's lots of other things. And ultimately marketing is also just problem solving, and it's a channel to generate revenue for the company. And if that channel is not working, then you just go and run the five whys on it and figure out figure out why and then what are the next steps. And I think it's one thing to miss a goal and explain why that's OK. The best scenario is you miss a goal, you explain why and the team is presenting, and here's the four things that we're going to do about it. OK, great. At least feel like we're in control. And then if it goes in other weeks and months and quarters after that and you're still not making progress, and that's when you look, do we have the right team or do we have the right marketing strategy? Do we have the right people?

Chris Byers: Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Dave isn't afraid to think outside the box when it comes to B2B marketing. So if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to accomplish more with their marketing efforts?

Dave Gerhardt: I think an advantage that I am realizing now that I've created for myself is like my obsession and interest in marketing has been advantageous to my creativity because I'm just consuming so much content, whether that's books, podcasts, videos, seeing ads, watching talks. And that's the stuff that I'm interesting and reading about and learning about, and it's allowed me to almost be. I feel like I can be creative on demand now. Not that my ideas are always going to be good, but I can be creative on demand because I feel like I have enough of a bank of operating principles to be able to say, OK, yeah, I could probably come up with a creative idea for this ad. What's the goal, OK? And I have some kind of operating principles to help me come up with that. So I think like the more knowledge you can soak in about, like if you want to if you want to do better, if you want to do better ads, best way to do that is go and pick up a book. Hey, go read Hey Whipple, squeeze this, but then also go and look at become obsessed with looking at the creative of four or five brands that you think are inspirational for you. And then now that you're consuming that stuff all the time, the next time you have the blank slate, you have a little bit of a baseline link back to what I said earlier about role models. Almost everything that's been done has already been done, and so you should go and find a role model. So if you're going to launch your first event this year, go back and see what their first event look like in two thousand and three. Go see that web page. Go in the MIT Wayback Machine and go find that initial copy. You got to start there.

Chris Byers: As we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you want people to think about when it comes to bringing more humanity into B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I don't know if I would use the term humanity into B2B marketing, but for me, it's more just just be it be a real person. There is not B2B Dave versus B2C Dave versus consumer Dave. Like, I'm just Dave. You have to. Understand how Dave makes decisions and is motivated and so focused on studying people. Marketing is how can you be good at marketing if you don't understand how people make decisions? I think that's where you got to focus.

Chris Byers: What do you think people listening can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Dave Gerhardt: I think that there's a lot of stuff going on in the world, and I think that at the end of the day, marketing goal. Especially for for so many of us that are working at what, well-funded SAS companies, I think that it's not make or break, it's not the most important thing happening in the world. And I think that this last year has been an important reset for a lot of people in that sense. And so I'm not saying don't have ambitions and don't go try to hit big goals, but you've got to think about things in the context of what's happening in the world. And sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as marketers. And it's hard, right? If you're working from home, you're on slack, you're on email, you're on Zoom, you're just in this tunnel all day. Get outside. Take a step away. Go for a walk. Go work out. Have a drink of water, go for a hike. Go meditate. You need something that's going to get you out of the vacuum and realize that, yes, this is my job and I want to help my company succeed. And this is important. But however, you've got to be able to be spending time with your family and your kids and being outside and taking care of your health. There's always been this. You see these stories of just burnt out founders or exacts or I tell this one example, but this is pre-pandemic. But I listen to some podcast with the CMO of like a multibillion dollar company. And I think the CMO said, Yeah, the best part of my day is when I face time with my kids on the train ride into work. I'm like, when you face time with your kid, how about just be home? And I just think more people, this is a rant, but I want to just a big thing that I'm passionate about is my, my family and my time and. Being there with them and I'm going to do the best job for the company, and I love marketing goals, but like I tell my team today, you got to prioritize yourself, you have to prioritize yourself, you have to have that mental health space and sanity for yourself. And I think I don't necessarily have a lesson in this rant. I just wanted to put this out into the universe and hopefully someone will say, Oh yeah, it's not the end of the world. And I know that there's probably VCs and whoever out there that don't want to hear it don't want to hear that, Oh, here's a guy who doesn't want to grow. And that's not the truth. I think there's a fourth. This guy, Brad Stolberg is an author, and he did some work. He spoke at our events at Drift back in the day. He always tweets about this formula. Stress plus rest equals growth. And I love that there's going to be time to work, but there's also going to be time to unplug and do your thing. And I get my best ideas for work. When I'm not sitting at the computer, I'll go play golf for four hours or go for a walk, or I'll go work out. And it's like when you're sub, when you're like unconscious mind is not actively working. That's when all the good stuff happens. So you just got to make sure that you take that time to well.

Chris Byers: So as a final question, one of the conversations will often have with people or just a question is how do you view failure and when that plays out in your life, how do you view it? What's the lesson you learn from it? Or how do you think about it?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's a learning. I don't think it's a failure. I don't think it's a failure. I think it's a learning. I think every mistake that I've made at work over the last 10 years has actually made me better because I've already made those mistakes now. So I know better or I should know better or I've made hiring mistakes. But I've had to have made hiring mistakes and hire that person and fire that person or whatever, or try that idea and have it flop like that. That's all. Those are all like learning credits that are now in my bank. And so I can lean on them, I can rely on them. And so they have made me better. And everybody likes failure is relative. If you said, if you create a marketing campaign, it doesn't work. Is that a failure or did you now just learn that this type of campaign didn't work for some particular reason? And now you've eliminated one decision? And so the next time you don't, you have it easier. OK, we know that doesn't work. So we're going to start here. Every failures are learning.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work. Head over to practicallygenius.com Also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Chris Byers: Dave Gerhardt is regarded as one of the leading brand builders in B2B today. An author, a podcast host, and community builder with his DG marketing group of over 2500 members. Before joining Privy, he led marketing at Drift for over four years and helped create one of the fastest growing SAS companies in the world. How has he been able to stand out and make an impact in B2B marketing? That's the story will uncover in this episode. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact our decisions create.

Chris Byers: Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Byers: Let's just start with what's the opportunity today with B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I love giving marketing advice, for sure. However, I think the challenge with that is it's not a it's not a paint by numbers approach. And so even if you hear something that you think is maybe interesting or insightful from us today, there's ultimately so many factors that that go on inside of the company. Your companies, your customers, your price point, the market, the competition. There's so many factors that could be contributing to your success in marketing. And so there's a lot there. Don't take anybody's paint by numbers approach to marketing. However, I do think that one of the biggest misconceptions in B2B is that it has to be so different than consumer marketing B2C, whatever you want to call it. When I think that what's happened now is we're all just we're all just consumers, and the opportunity is as a B2B brand, you can have a direct relationship with your customers. And that's not just for direct to consumer brands, that's for B2B meaning. If you sell financial software, you can go and reach all of your customers online and you can use all of those channels to really build an audience and build an audience of your dream customers. And so I think like one thing that I've been championing for a couple of years now is just, you don't have to do B2B marketing like traditional B2B marketing in order to be successful, just because that's how everyone's always done it. I think the key is to go back and study like how people make decisions and look at where people are spending time. So not where it be to be buyer spending time. Because guess what? I'm a B2B buyer, I'm a CMO, but I'm also a dad. I'm also a husband, I'm also a golfer. And so I'm a consumer. I'm doing all those things in other channels, too. Don't just go look at what Gartner and Forrester and serious decisions and whoever CMO, what what they're talking about, go and study what people are doing. Go study how people are behaving. Not just today, but go back and study like social psychology and direct response advertising and learn the timeless kind of principles of marketing. Those are my favorite things to think about applying to B2B today.

Chris Byers: I think it can easily be thought of as frankly, a little bit boring to, you know, that B2B marketing. We think of big brands like Nike and consumer ads. I'm curious, what are some examples of maybe some brands or things you've seen in the market that you think are good examples of ways people are doing B2B marketing and it just a much better way.

Dave Gerhardt: I always give this example now and I'm mad at myself because they don't have another one. I think Drift has historically done a good job. I think this was a big thing that I was proud of when I was there, which is instead of building a brand about our product marketing and sales technology, we built a brand for marketers. And so everything that we did was focused on how do we build an audience and a community of marketing people? And if we can do that, if we can get them to trust us through our content and our relationships and our community that can give us a moat. And so I think, like the drift marketing strategy was very strong. Because of that, I think Gong Gio and Gong is a great example of a company that's doing that in that they clearly know their audience. They clearly know the persona that they're selling to. They don't just write 500 word clickbait blog posts. They publish in-depth reports about objection handling. They do a good job of leading content first. I think the best marketing strategy today, if you're a B2B brand, is to be perceived as the expert in your niche. And so if you're going and you're selling to salespeople, how can you build a brand around? Hey, we are the number-one brand to follow if you want to get better at sales because that has nothing to do with gangs product that has everything to do with. I'm in sales. I want to follow their Instagram account. I want to follow their LinkedIn account because I want to do better at my job. And if I now create that relationship for that brand, guess who I'm going to buy from? Because most people are not really just buying one product, they're shopping. And so if I'm shopping around when it's time for me to buy product, it can help me. Record sales calls. It manages sales team performance. The first brand I'm going to turn to is the brand that I've been listening to podcast for six months, and I've been always getting interesting stuff from on LinkedIn.

Chris Byers: And I think you've touched on it just a little bit in some of the ways that people think about brand, probably in the wrong way that let's just write some more content that is promoting ourselves. Yeah. What are the things you think brands get wrong?

Dave Gerhardt: So one is they think about themselves first and we're all selfish and. Whether you will admit that publicly or not, it's OK, because if there's a public version of being selfish, but also we're just wired to think for ourselves and defend for ourselves first. And so I see a lot of companies putting out messaging into the world that is very company focused. Whereas no talk, talk about me, come to me, I'll give you I'll give you one example of this. Somebody reached out to me the other day and they said, Hey, have you ever done anything with like an influencer type partnership? I said, No, we would like you to try our software. We'll let you try it for free, and then we'd like you to write about it and tell your followers on LinkedIn as like why in the world what? I want to do that? Why would I do that? It makes no said there's nothing in it for me to do it that way. And so I think that's one small example of that is the thing that most B2B brands get wrong is they don't have a deep understanding of what are the wants and needs and desires of the customer. And so they just lead with their we're the leading cloud based A.I. whatever garbage jargon kind of descriptions, everything starts with a selfish benefit. And so the very first thing is like, what is a selfish benefit of using my product as a customer instead of just generating leads or generating revenue? You might get promoted in your job. You might progress your career faster. You might be seen as a leader and an expert in your industry. You might get more credibility and trust inside of the company, right? Those are all like fundamental human desires that a lot of companies don't try to lead with. The other thing is, I see a lot of creative that isn't very creative in that. If you scroll through LinkedIn and you just see ads, they all look the same. They all look like ads. And I think a lot of times we don't look at the context of the channel that we're trying to create content in. And so if you're advertising on LinkedIn, the very first thing that I would be doing is going and looking at what is all the other creative and content. What is that that's already being advertised on LinkedIn? What does that look like? Because so often all of us are just scrolling aimlessly through our feeds. I want mine to stand out. I want mine to be the opposite. I want mine to interrupt the pattern of you scrolling, and that doesn't mean that I have to do it in a click baity, annoying, in-your-face kind of way. It means that I need to understand the context of what's happening that channel, because the best product is not always going to win. Oftentimes, when you're trying to promote your stuff on social media or content or whatever, you have to actually be interesting. And so to do that, you've got to look at what's happening. I see a lot of basically like kind of stock image looking creative where I would just take an iPhone video with some text on it on LinkedIn as an ad would probably perform much better than the highly sanitized looking banner.

Chris Byers: So my guess is in the marketing group that you have 2500 plus people, they're thinking about problems like this and challenges. What are the things that are top of mind for them that they're thinking about these days?

Dave Gerhardt: I think there's been a huge shift to marketers focusing on revenue first. I'm seeing a lot of marketers who it's awesome because they're really focused on marketing as a team, as responsible for delivering revenue, not marketing as a team that's responsible for getting us branded frisbees and pens and T-shirts and swag for the event. Marketing is like the key driver of revenue in the company. And with that, also seeing CEOs thinking about marketing from that perspective, more CEOs wanting to invest in marketing, more CEOs wanting to take chances and do more interesting and creative things in marketing to serve those revenue goals.

Chris Byers: Talked a little bit about this how to make inroads with your customers. It's really taking their needs and wants and desires into play. But I think most marketing people arrive to their job. And then even these days, to your point, they're going to get an MQ l goal or a lead goal or a follower goal. So how do I like skip through that and get started saying OK, but I need to connect with people? What do you think those first steps are?

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, I think the first step is to listen to the customers. And unless you're joining a company where you have no customers, most times you're going in and you're taking a job or you're working on a new initiative, and you have to remember that everything like we do a lot of things in marketing, but the whole point is to get customers. And so you have to have your finger on the pulse of what customers are talking about, what they're thinking about and what's amazing is like that used to be, Oh hey, Sarah, can I join a couple of your sales calls next week? OK? And I got to go sit at Sarah's desk with her or dial into a Zoom call. Hey, Dave, from the marketing teams on, and that's fine. But also what's really cool now is you can use a product like Gong and there's even just listening to like Zoom recordings. That stuff is so easily available. When I joined Privy, the very first thing that I did was I got the gong app on my phone and literally for two weeks, I took any time that I would listen to an audio book or podcast instead or work out what, like, why I was working on. I was literally listening to customer calls, and it was amazing because in the course of two weeks, I probably listen to 40 50 customer calls and on my own schedule, on my own time, on my phone and through that you start to be able to hear the words customers are using start to be able to do some pattern matching. And by the way, if you ever listen to customer calls, you know that every customer is different. Yes. But let's say of those 50 calls, 80 percent of the questions are going to be the same. And ultimately, the best thing you can do as a marketer is get inside of the head of your customer. I think social media is great because you can just passively see what people are talking about. But pairing that with listening to sales calls and having a close relationship with the sales team and support team, that stuff really goes a long way for understanding your customer.

Chris Byers: I love that you mentioned pattern recognition would love for you to talk just a little bit more about that. Do you think that's important and thinking about connecting with customers?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's important with knowing what to create in order to connect with customers, because like connecting with customers in order to connect with a customer, you have to create something, whether that's you're sending an email or you making a video or you're doing a podcast like it's got to be something there. And so how can you know what to create? You have to be able to like, have, I think one of the underrated skills that doesn't get talked about enough in marketing is having taste and not taste for designing your apartment, but like taste for understanding what things might be interesting to customers. And so like when you go and listen to 10, 20, 30, 40 calls, the same things start to come up over and over and so you can start to think about. Everyone has this one objection about they think it's too expensive. OK. So should we just do nothing about that? Should we complain to the product team and change the pricing? Or should I think about it? Huh? How can I as a marker? What can I do to help with that objection? Here's an idea. What if we had a page on our website that was perfect com slash proof? And it was all case studies and testimonials, and there was an ROI calculator on there and we could have people, you know, fill that out as part of the process. OK, cool. So now let's say you solve that problem, and two months later, you're hearing less questions come up about that objection. That's an amazing use of marketing.

Chris Byers: Tell us a little bit about GMG. Why it's needed. What are you trying to solve in the world?

Dave Gerhardt: What happened was I started my own private podcast through Patreon when I left drift and that thing grew so fast. In a couple of months, it was five hundred members and I relearned the most important lesson in marketing, which is, man, if you have an audience, the value of learning through that audience is so powerful and so through, let's say, the first 500 paying members of my patron. I learned that yes, some people, some crazy people out there want to hear my rants and ravings about marketing. But most of the people in here, wow, they're asking questions about hiring and campaign planning and presenting to the board and managing up. And how do you hire product marketing person? What are good interview questions for an intern? And it was through that community that that that Patreon group that I was like, Whoa, there's something bigger in here. And so that ended up launching a community which is on Facebook and then through that community on Facebook continued discussion about that type of stuff, and it continued to grow. Now today it's 2500 members, and I just launched something called GMG University, which is I wanted to have one library where you can go as a marketer and type in presenting to the board and you'll find two videos and a template, for example. And you know, maybe you can go through that stuff before your next board meeting. And so the need was I didn't know it was there, but it was through the audience. I learned that there was this hunger for marketing content. I knew it because I the only reason I was able to launch my Patreon was because of LinkedIn. There was enough people who were interested in my stuff and comments via LinkedIn and Twitter that that's how I got my first couple hundred members on Patreon. But then it was through that group that you learn, Wow, there's something bigger here people want. They literally want a college education. They want Netflix for marketing. They want masterclass. Com for marketing content. It's marketing. I like talking about marketing. I like doing stuff for marketing. I like creating content. So that kind of led to piecing this thing together, and it's just continued to grow from there. People have this hunger to invest in them in themselves. And yeah, sure, I'll spend one hundred bucks a year or two hundred bucks a year, and most people expand it to their company anyway, learning how to get better at my job. And I think it's become a pretty cool thing. A single thing that I learned in school, high school and college. That's not to knock either of those places, but it hasn't helped me in my career in marketing. I came up with this tagline for GMG, which I think is so true, which is no one goes to school for B2B marketing, and I've seen that the most valuable things for me. As a first time marketing leader, let's say a drift was like getting outside of the four walls of my company, like meeting the director of marketing at Marketo, at lunch at Saaster, picking her brain and being like, Wow, I just learned so much. I just learned so much internal things like, here's how Marketo does it. And I felt that myself and I got addicted to like watching videos and listening to podcasts. And so I you worked at an amazing company, but I also educated myself and I invested in myself. And I think it's one way of, I don't know, I wanted to create this content and put it back out in the world to help other people get better at their jobs in marketing. Because I think so much of what we do in B2B marketing, like you get caught up in such meaningless stuff, the perfect template for planning your campaigns are creating your budget or like what the best practice framework is. And it's so much of that stuff should just be decisions that should be eliminated because it's like here, just use this like there's 15 different ways you could do positioning, but here's this one that I really like. It gets the job done and it's going to get you what you need, and you should not be spending five hours out of your week deciding I want positioning template to use. You should freaking pick up Positioning tab and use it and be getting feedback already.

Chris Byers: What advice do you have? For people who you may want to use their experience and expertize to teach and or equip, whether online or in a college classroom, what did you learn about how to get that message across?

Dave Gerhardt: For me, it's been like learning about something where there's value back to me. I liked copywriting. I liked marketing. And so by being by focusing on like getting better at the specific example from drifters like David pushed me to study copywriting and direct response advertising because there's a bunch of natural things you already do. If you learn these, you'll be able to unlock. So what that did was he showed me like, Hey, don't try to become this T-shaped marketer. Don't worry about trying to study SAS metrics and conversion rate optimization and SEO and marketing automation. Just focus on copywriting. And so the thing that changed for me with learning was like learning with the I still don't enjoy reading. It's not like what I sit down to do to just pass an hour. But I read every day because I read to learn about something specific. And so I think if you want to become a marketing leader or you want to become a video producer or you want to become a product marketing leader, like it's way better to zone in on that particular topic and then go deep on that topic as opposed to try to pick from everything. And I think that really helped, which was like, Hey, you don't have to go and try to be great at all. These things pick out the one thing. I think the other thing is, look for you've got to find a role model or two. For example, if I wanted to become great at product marketing, I wouldn't study every product marketer I would go and find like, who's one or two like amazing product marketing leaders that are maybe five years ahead of me, literally go find their LinkedIn profile and try to go and follow and see everything that they've done and find that journey. Because, like history, just histories is the best like lesson. Like even now, like in 2020, I started reading a lot of history books because I wanted to just get some context for what was happening in the world and everything has already happened. That's happening right now in some form or another. And that's what makes history so powerful. And I think the same is true for trying to understand your journey. So if you're a marketing manager, you want to become CMO, go and find one or two CMO that you think might work for a company that you like or have done some things in your career that you want to do and just focus on studying the moves of those one or two people as opposed to like everyone in that industry. So the same way you're going to focus on one or two core strengths go and focus on one or two core people. And also one or two core resources. I used to get paralyzed by that to keep up with everything. I got to read every marketing blog. If I'm going to know everything and nope, I don't need, I don't need to do that will take forever to try to keep up, and you'll never make any progress. So instead, I was like, You know what? I'm just going to read Saaster content. OK, great. And I think like, you just got to pick one or two kind of channels and producers to go deep on.

Chris Byers: Also talking just about that idea of you talk about progress and keep the bit of the keeping up with the Joneses. Like the moment you do something great, the bad news is you get to do something greater next. How do you manage that kind of balance of being creative and innovative? But I don't know. You can't always be on to the next thing. You have to have some, some balance there.

Dave Gerhardt: Part of it is like, welcome to the job in marketing, and that is what it is, which is you just did something ridiculous. Great. You've just reset the bar for what we need from you. And that is what it is. You just got to accept that as part of the job, which is if you do great things, people are just going to continue to want more. If you hit big goals, people are going to continue to want bigger goals. That's kind of part of the growth, the growth climbing.

Chris Byers: I love it. I know I've been thinking a lot about, especially coming out of tough year last year. There is this kind of moment of you do need to, I don't know, just find a little bit of balance. There's always going to be something new. There's always going to be something bigger. But we also need to find some space to step back and just observe like what's happening in the world.

Dave Gerhardt: This is why you need goals. Goals should frame what you're going to focus in what you're going to spend your time on. And I always try to push back on, and I'm the number one culprit of suggesting new ideas. When we don't, we don't. We don't need them and being a distraction for the team. I love those discussions, like with the team that me, for example, I might suggest something. And because we have a very clear goal setting process, they would say, Yeah, this is a cool idea, Dave. But is this more important than these three things that we're working on right now, which we've declared are the most important things that we're working on because they serve X, Y and Z goal? And I'm like, No, you're right. OK, cool. It's my job to suggest new ideas and push the team. But if you have clear goals and guardrails and a lot of my marketing teams don't have that and I've fallen in that trap before, and it's a mistake, which is you've got to have some type of operating principle. So here are the goals for our team here. The objectives that we set like basically, how do we think we're going to achieve those goals? And this is the thing that we're going to work on. Those things should be priority number one. If we're good in those areas and or have bonus time to go and do them, then that's when we should go explore the new things. But I think you need that scoreboard to fall back on. Otherwise you're just like, it's going to be it's going to be endless.

Chris Byers: When you're striving, you're not hitting the goal. What do you do to like, make sure you don't hit that moment? Burnout.

Dave Gerhardt: It's tough nobody likes missing goals, but like at the end, I think first it's you're you're not going to hit the goal every single week, every single month, every single quarter, every single year. And a lot of times marketing is not the sole reason why you're not. Why you're not hitting the goal, sometimes it is right, but I think it's it's your job in marketing to not only hit the goal, but to understand why you are not hitting the goal. And so if I'm not, if I'm not hitting our goals. Sometimes that's OK, it's a bummer, but I want to make sure that we can articulate why and have actions and plans for how we're going to fix that or what we might do, or if there's things we don't know the answer to. How can we know those things early on enough where we can bring them up to the CEO or the chief product officer, whoever and have productive conversations with other people? Ultimately, the best marketing is an amazing product, and I'm the biggest advocate for marketing. I'm not just saying you can just have a good product and exists, but like it's much easier to do marketing at Zoom than it is for Dave's water bottle store. And so I think you got to be able to, like, have conversations about your goals and marketing and say, Hey, where hey SEO, where we're going to miss our goal this quarter? Here's why. Here's what we're going to do about it. Here's two or three areas that we might want to have discussion about what we might need from other teams or things that we're seeing or churn is high in this area. So it's it's very rarely on you if it is a very specific marketing thing that to me, this can be some of the fun part of the job. Yeah, it's frustrating. You're not going to win every single time you go play mini golf, you're not going to make a hole in one every single time. So I think that's delusional that if you're going to be upset every time you miss a goal, it's OK to be competitive, but if you're going to be burnt out. But I think again, it goes so far back to setting clear goals and expectations because if you miss your goals and the team is burnt out and working like crazy, that to me says that you're most likely working on the wrong stuff. And so how do you improve the feedback loop with the team in your one on ones with campaign planning and whatever to like, at least have a good feeling of work on the right stuff? If I think that we're working on the right stuff and we miss, but we miss goals. That's OK. I'd rather miss that way than we're working on the wrong stuff and we're missing goals. That's where it starts to like to get into troublesome territory.

Chris Byers: I really like that idea of talking about the why and understanding the why of why you are or not hitting goals as CEO. I love that comment you made. I really don't mind when we the missed goal at times, especially and maybe only if if I know what, because otherwise I don't know where to jump in and help. I don't know where to give you some extra funds. I don't know where to redirect.

Dave Gerhardt: It could be not. It could be things not related to marketing. It could be like the product market fit has changed. A new competitor has come into the space. There isn't a need, there's lots of other things. And ultimately marketing is also just problem solving, and it's a channel to generate revenue for the company. And if that channel is not working, then you just go and run the five whys on it and figure out figure out why and then what are the next steps. And I think it's one thing to miss a goal and explain why that's OK. The best scenario is you miss a goal, you explain why and the team is presenting, and here's the four things that we're going to do about it. OK, great. At least feel like we're in control. And then if it goes in other weeks and months and quarters after that and you're still not making progress, and that's when you look, do we have the right team or do we have the right marketing strategy? Do we have the right people?

Chris Byers: Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Dave isn't afraid to think outside the box when it comes to B2B marketing. So if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to accomplish more with their marketing efforts?

Dave Gerhardt: I think an advantage that I am realizing now that I've created for myself is like my obsession and interest in marketing has been advantageous to my creativity because I'm just consuming so much content, whether that's books, podcasts, videos, seeing ads, watching talks. And that's the stuff that I'm interesting and reading about and learning about, and it's allowed me to almost be. I feel like I can be creative on demand now. Not that my ideas are always going to be good, but I can be creative on demand because I feel like I have enough of a bank of operating principles to be able to say, OK, yeah, I could probably come up with a creative idea for this ad. What's the goal, OK? And I have some kind of operating principles to help me come up with that. So I think like the more knowledge you can soak in about, like if you want to if you want to do better, if you want to do better ads, best way to do that is go and pick up a book. Hey, go read Hey Whipple, squeeze this, but then also go and look at become obsessed with looking at the creative of four or five brands that you think are inspirational for you. And then now that you're consuming that stuff all the time, the next time you have the blank slate, you have a little bit of a baseline link back to what I said earlier about role models. Almost everything that's been done has already been done, and so you should go and find a role model. So if you're going to launch your first event this year, go back and see what their first event look like in two thousand and three. Go see that web page. Go in the MIT Wayback Machine and go find that initial copy. You got to start there.

Chris Byers: As we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you want people to think about when it comes to bringing more humanity into B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I don't know if I would use the term humanity into B2B marketing, but for me, it's more just just be it be a real person. There is not B2B Dave versus B2C Dave versus consumer Dave. Like, I'm just Dave. You have to. Understand how Dave makes decisions and is motivated and so focused on studying people. Marketing is how can you be good at marketing if you don't understand how people make decisions? I think that's where you got to focus.

Chris Byers: What do you think people listening can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Dave Gerhardt: I think that there's a lot of stuff going on in the world, and I think that at the end of the day, marketing goal. Especially for for so many of us that are working at what, well-funded SAS companies, I think that it's not make or break, it's not the most important thing happening in the world. And I think that this last year has been an important reset for a lot of people in that sense. And so I'm not saying don't have ambitions and don't go try to hit big goals, but you've got to think about things in the context of what's happening in the world. And sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as marketers. And it's hard, right? If you're working from home, you're on slack, you're on email, you're on Zoom, you're just in this tunnel all day. Get outside. Take a step away. Go for a walk. Go work out. Have a drink of water, go for a hike. Go meditate. You need something that's going to get you out of the vacuum and realize that, yes, this is my job and I want to help my company succeed. And this is important. But however, you've got to be able to be spending time with your family and your kids and being outside and taking care of your health. There's always been this. You see these stories of just burnt out founders or exacts or I tell this one example, but this is pre-pandemic. But I listen to some podcast with the CMO of like a multibillion dollar company. And I think the CMO said, Yeah, the best part of my day is when I face time with my kids on the train ride into work. I'm like, when you face time with your kid, how about just be home? And I just think more people, this is a rant, but I want to just a big thing that I'm passionate about is my, my family and my time and. Being there with them and I'm going to do the best job for the company, and I love marketing goals, but like I tell my team today, you got to prioritize yourself, you have to prioritize yourself, you have to have that mental health space and sanity for yourself. And I think I don't necessarily have a lesson in this rant. I just wanted to put this out into the universe and hopefully someone will say, Oh yeah, it's not the end of the world. And I know that there's probably VCs and whoever out there that don't want to hear it don't want to hear that, Oh, here's a guy who doesn't want to grow. And that's not the truth. I think there's a fourth. This guy, Brad Stolberg is an author, and he did some work. He spoke at our events at Drift back in the day. He always tweets about this formula. Stress plus rest equals growth. And I love that there's going to be time to work, but there's also going to be time to unplug and do your thing. And I get my best ideas for work. When I'm not sitting at the computer, I'll go play golf for four hours or go for a walk, or I'll go work out. And it's like when you're sub, when you're like unconscious mind is not actively working. That's when all the good stuff happens. So you just got to make sure that you take that time to well.

Chris Byers: So as a final question, one of the conversations will often have with people or just a question is how do you view failure and when that plays out in your life, how do you view it? What's the lesson you learn from it? Or how do you think about it?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's a learning. I don't think it's a failure. I don't think it's a failure. I think it's a learning. I think every mistake that I've made at work over the last 10 years has actually made me better because I've already made those mistakes now. So I know better or I should know better or I've made hiring mistakes. But I've had to have made hiring mistakes and hire that person and fire that person or whatever, or try that idea and have it flop like that. That's all. Those are all like learning credits that are now in my bank. And so I can lean on them, I can rely on them. And so they have made me better. And everybody likes failure is relative. If you said, if you create a marketing campaign, it doesn't work. Is that a failure or did you now just learn that this type of campaign didn't work for some particular reason? And now you've eliminated one decision? And so the next time you don't, you have it easier. OK, we know that doesn't work. So we're going to start here. Every failures are learning.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work. Head over to practicallygenius.com Also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Ripple Effect.

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Chargify
First Data
PayPal
PayPal Pro
PayPal Payflow
Stripe
WePay
ProPay
Monthly Fees
$25
$25
$149+
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$25
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$0
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$4
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N/A
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$2.9% + 30¢
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10¢
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$2.6% + 30¢
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5
8
Based on payment gateway
50+
203
3
4
25
USA
USA
Currencies
11
2
23
140
25
23
25
135+
1
1
Card Types
6
13
Based on payment gateway
5
9
9
5
6
4
4
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None
None
Based on payment gateway
None
$10,000
None
None
None
None
$500 per transaction
Form Payments
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Mobile Payments
PSD2 Compliant

Chris Byers: Dave Gerhardt is regarded as one of the leading brand builders in B2B today. An author, a podcast host, and community builder with his DG marketing group of over 2500 members. Before joining Privy, he led marketing at Drift for over four years and helped create one of the fastest growing SAS companies in the world. How has he been able to stand out and make an impact in B2B marketing? That's the story will uncover in this episode. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact our decisions create.

Chris Byers: Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Byers: Let's just start with what's the opportunity today with B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I love giving marketing advice, for sure. However, I think the challenge with that is it's not a it's not a paint by numbers approach. And so even if you hear something that you think is maybe interesting or insightful from us today, there's ultimately so many factors that that go on inside of the company. Your companies, your customers, your price point, the market, the competition. There's so many factors that could be contributing to your success in marketing. And so there's a lot there. Don't take anybody's paint by numbers approach to marketing. However, I do think that one of the biggest misconceptions in B2B is that it has to be so different than consumer marketing B2C, whatever you want to call it. When I think that what's happened now is we're all just we're all just consumers, and the opportunity is as a B2B brand, you can have a direct relationship with your customers. And that's not just for direct to consumer brands, that's for B2B meaning. If you sell financial software, you can go and reach all of your customers online and you can use all of those channels to really build an audience and build an audience of your dream customers. And so I think like one thing that I've been championing for a couple of years now is just, you don't have to do B2B marketing like traditional B2B marketing in order to be successful, just because that's how everyone's always done it. I think the key is to go back and study like how people make decisions and look at where people are spending time. So not where it be to be buyer spending time. Because guess what? I'm a B2B buyer, I'm a CMO, but I'm also a dad. I'm also a husband, I'm also a golfer. And so I'm a consumer. I'm doing all those things in other channels, too. Don't just go look at what Gartner and Forrester and serious decisions and whoever CMO, what what they're talking about, go and study what people are doing. Go study how people are behaving. Not just today, but go back and study like social psychology and direct response advertising and learn the timeless kind of principles of marketing. Those are my favorite things to think about applying to B2B today.

Chris Byers: I think it can easily be thought of as frankly, a little bit boring to, you know, that B2B marketing. We think of big brands like Nike and consumer ads. I'm curious, what are some examples of maybe some brands or things you've seen in the market that you think are good examples of ways people are doing B2B marketing and it just a much better way.

Dave Gerhardt: I always give this example now and I'm mad at myself because they don't have another one. I think Drift has historically done a good job. I think this was a big thing that I was proud of when I was there, which is instead of building a brand about our product marketing and sales technology, we built a brand for marketers. And so everything that we did was focused on how do we build an audience and a community of marketing people? And if we can do that, if we can get them to trust us through our content and our relationships and our community that can give us a moat. And so I think, like the drift marketing strategy was very strong. Because of that, I think Gong Gio and Gong is a great example of a company that's doing that in that they clearly know their audience. They clearly know the persona that they're selling to. They don't just write 500 word clickbait blog posts. They publish in-depth reports about objection handling. They do a good job of leading content first. I think the best marketing strategy today, if you're a B2B brand, is to be perceived as the expert in your niche. And so if you're going and you're selling to salespeople, how can you build a brand around? Hey, we are the number-one brand to follow if you want to get better at sales because that has nothing to do with gangs product that has everything to do with. I'm in sales. I want to follow their Instagram account. I want to follow their LinkedIn account because I want to do better at my job. And if I now create that relationship for that brand, guess who I'm going to buy from? Because most people are not really just buying one product, they're shopping. And so if I'm shopping around when it's time for me to buy product, it can help me. Record sales calls. It manages sales team performance. The first brand I'm going to turn to is the brand that I've been listening to podcast for six months, and I've been always getting interesting stuff from on LinkedIn.

Chris Byers: And I think you've touched on it just a little bit in some of the ways that people think about brand, probably in the wrong way that let's just write some more content that is promoting ourselves. Yeah. What are the things you think brands get wrong?

Dave Gerhardt: So one is they think about themselves first and we're all selfish and. Whether you will admit that publicly or not, it's OK, because if there's a public version of being selfish, but also we're just wired to think for ourselves and defend for ourselves first. And so I see a lot of companies putting out messaging into the world that is very company focused. Whereas no talk, talk about me, come to me, I'll give you I'll give you one example of this. Somebody reached out to me the other day and they said, Hey, have you ever done anything with like an influencer type partnership? I said, No, we would like you to try our software. We'll let you try it for free, and then we'd like you to write about it and tell your followers on LinkedIn as like why in the world what? I want to do that? Why would I do that? It makes no said there's nothing in it for me to do it that way. And so I think that's one small example of that is the thing that most B2B brands get wrong is they don't have a deep understanding of what are the wants and needs and desires of the customer. And so they just lead with their we're the leading cloud based A.I. whatever garbage jargon kind of descriptions, everything starts with a selfish benefit. And so the very first thing is like, what is a selfish benefit of using my product as a customer instead of just generating leads or generating revenue? You might get promoted in your job. You might progress your career faster. You might be seen as a leader and an expert in your industry. You might get more credibility and trust inside of the company, right? Those are all like fundamental human desires that a lot of companies don't try to lead with. The other thing is, I see a lot of creative that isn't very creative in that. If you scroll through LinkedIn and you just see ads, they all look the same. They all look like ads. And I think a lot of times we don't look at the context of the channel that we're trying to create content in. And so if you're advertising on LinkedIn, the very first thing that I would be doing is going and looking at what is all the other creative and content. What is that that's already being advertised on LinkedIn? What does that look like? Because so often all of us are just scrolling aimlessly through our feeds. I want mine to stand out. I want mine to be the opposite. I want mine to interrupt the pattern of you scrolling, and that doesn't mean that I have to do it in a click baity, annoying, in-your-face kind of way. It means that I need to understand the context of what's happening that channel, because the best product is not always going to win. Oftentimes, when you're trying to promote your stuff on social media or content or whatever, you have to actually be interesting. And so to do that, you've got to look at what's happening. I see a lot of basically like kind of stock image looking creative where I would just take an iPhone video with some text on it on LinkedIn as an ad would probably perform much better than the highly sanitized looking banner.

Chris Byers: So my guess is in the marketing group that you have 2500 plus people, they're thinking about problems like this and challenges. What are the things that are top of mind for them that they're thinking about these days?

Dave Gerhardt: I think there's been a huge shift to marketers focusing on revenue first. I'm seeing a lot of marketers who it's awesome because they're really focused on marketing as a team, as responsible for delivering revenue, not marketing as a team that's responsible for getting us branded frisbees and pens and T-shirts and swag for the event. Marketing is like the key driver of revenue in the company. And with that, also seeing CEOs thinking about marketing from that perspective, more CEOs wanting to invest in marketing, more CEOs wanting to take chances and do more interesting and creative things in marketing to serve those revenue goals.

Chris Byers: Talked a little bit about this how to make inroads with your customers. It's really taking their needs and wants and desires into play. But I think most marketing people arrive to their job. And then even these days, to your point, they're going to get an MQ l goal or a lead goal or a follower goal. So how do I like skip through that and get started saying OK, but I need to connect with people? What do you think those first steps are?

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, I think the first step is to listen to the customers. And unless you're joining a company where you have no customers, most times you're going in and you're taking a job or you're working on a new initiative, and you have to remember that everything like we do a lot of things in marketing, but the whole point is to get customers. And so you have to have your finger on the pulse of what customers are talking about, what they're thinking about and what's amazing is like that used to be, Oh hey, Sarah, can I join a couple of your sales calls next week? OK? And I got to go sit at Sarah's desk with her or dial into a Zoom call. Hey, Dave, from the marketing teams on, and that's fine. But also what's really cool now is you can use a product like Gong and there's even just listening to like Zoom recordings. That stuff is so easily available. When I joined Privy, the very first thing that I did was I got the gong app on my phone and literally for two weeks, I took any time that I would listen to an audio book or podcast instead or work out what, like, why I was working on. I was literally listening to customer calls, and it was amazing because in the course of two weeks, I probably listen to 40 50 customer calls and on my own schedule, on my own time, on my phone and through that you start to be able to hear the words customers are using start to be able to do some pattern matching. And by the way, if you ever listen to customer calls, you know that every customer is different. Yes. But let's say of those 50 calls, 80 percent of the questions are going to be the same. And ultimately, the best thing you can do as a marketer is get inside of the head of your customer. I think social media is great because you can just passively see what people are talking about. But pairing that with listening to sales calls and having a close relationship with the sales team and support team, that stuff really goes a long way for understanding your customer.

Chris Byers: I love that you mentioned pattern recognition would love for you to talk just a little bit more about that. Do you think that's important and thinking about connecting with customers?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's important with knowing what to create in order to connect with customers, because like connecting with customers in order to connect with a customer, you have to create something, whether that's you're sending an email or you making a video or you're doing a podcast like it's got to be something there. And so how can you know what to create? You have to be able to like, have, I think one of the underrated skills that doesn't get talked about enough in marketing is having taste and not taste for designing your apartment, but like taste for understanding what things might be interesting to customers. And so like when you go and listen to 10, 20, 30, 40 calls, the same things start to come up over and over and so you can start to think about. Everyone has this one objection about they think it's too expensive. OK. So should we just do nothing about that? Should we complain to the product team and change the pricing? Or should I think about it? Huh? How can I as a marker? What can I do to help with that objection? Here's an idea. What if we had a page on our website that was perfect com slash proof? And it was all case studies and testimonials, and there was an ROI calculator on there and we could have people, you know, fill that out as part of the process. OK, cool. So now let's say you solve that problem, and two months later, you're hearing less questions come up about that objection. That's an amazing use of marketing.

Chris Byers: Tell us a little bit about GMG. Why it's needed. What are you trying to solve in the world?

Dave Gerhardt: What happened was I started my own private podcast through Patreon when I left drift and that thing grew so fast. In a couple of months, it was five hundred members and I relearned the most important lesson in marketing, which is, man, if you have an audience, the value of learning through that audience is so powerful and so through, let's say, the first 500 paying members of my patron. I learned that yes, some people, some crazy people out there want to hear my rants and ravings about marketing. But most of the people in here, wow, they're asking questions about hiring and campaign planning and presenting to the board and managing up. And how do you hire product marketing person? What are good interview questions for an intern? And it was through that community that that that Patreon group that I was like, Whoa, there's something bigger in here. And so that ended up launching a community which is on Facebook and then through that community on Facebook continued discussion about that type of stuff, and it continued to grow. Now today it's 2500 members, and I just launched something called GMG University, which is I wanted to have one library where you can go as a marketer and type in presenting to the board and you'll find two videos and a template, for example. And you know, maybe you can go through that stuff before your next board meeting. And so the need was I didn't know it was there, but it was through the audience. I learned that there was this hunger for marketing content. I knew it because I the only reason I was able to launch my Patreon was because of LinkedIn. There was enough people who were interested in my stuff and comments via LinkedIn and Twitter that that's how I got my first couple hundred members on Patreon. But then it was through that group that you learn, Wow, there's something bigger here people want. They literally want a college education. They want Netflix for marketing. They want masterclass. Com for marketing content. It's marketing. I like talking about marketing. I like doing stuff for marketing. I like creating content. So that kind of led to piecing this thing together, and it's just continued to grow from there. People have this hunger to invest in them in themselves. And yeah, sure, I'll spend one hundred bucks a year or two hundred bucks a year, and most people expand it to their company anyway, learning how to get better at my job. And I think it's become a pretty cool thing. A single thing that I learned in school, high school and college. That's not to knock either of those places, but it hasn't helped me in my career in marketing. I came up with this tagline for GMG, which I think is so true, which is no one goes to school for B2B marketing, and I've seen that the most valuable things for me. As a first time marketing leader, let's say a drift was like getting outside of the four walls of my company, like meeting the director of marketing at Marketo, at lunch at Saaster, picking her brain and being like, Wow, I just learned so much. I just learned so much internal things like, here's how Marketo does it. And I felt that myself and I got addicted to like watching videos and listening to podcasts. And so I you worked at an amazing company, but I also educated myself and I invested in myself. And I think it's one way of, I don't know, I wanted to create this content and put it back out in the world to help other people get better at their jobs in marketing. Because I think so much of what we do in B2B marketing, like you get caught up in such meaningless stuff, the perfect template for planning your campaigns are creating your budget or like what the best practice framework is. And it's so much of that stuff should just be decisions that should be eliminated because it's like here, just use this like there's 15 different ways you could do positioning, but here's this one that I really like. It gets the job done and it's going to get you what you need, and you should not be spending five hours out of your week deciding I want positioning template to use. You should freaking pick up Positioning tab and use it and be getting feedback already.

Chris Byers: What advice do you have? For people who you may want to use their experience and expertize to teach and or equip, whether online or in a college classroom, what did you learn about how to get that message across?

Dave Gerhardt: For me, it's been like learning about something where there's value back to me. I liked copywriting. I liked marketing. And so by being by focusing on like getting better at the specific example from drifters like David pushed me to study copywriting and direct response advertising because there's a bunch of natural things you already do. If you learn these, you'll be able to unlock. So what that did was he showed me like, Hey, don't try to become this T-shaped marketer. Don't worry about trying to study SAS metrics and conversion rate optimization and SEO and marketing automation. Just focus on copywriting. And so the thing that changed for me with learning was like learning with the I still don't enjoy reading. It's not like what I sit down to do to just pass an hour. But I read every day because I read to learn about something specific. And so I think if you want to become a marketing leader or you want to become a video producer or you want to become a product marketing leader, like it's way better to zone in on that particular topic and then go deep on that topic as opposed to try to pick from everything. And I think that really helped, which was like, Hey, you don't have to go and try to be great at all. These things pick out the one thing. I think the other thing is, look for you've got to find a role model or two. For example, if I wanted to become great at product marketing, I wouldn't study every product marketer I would go and find like, who's one or two like amazing product marketing leaders that are maybe five years ahead of me, literally go find their LinkedIn profile and try to go and follow and see everything that they've done and find that journey. Because, like history, just histories is the best like lesson. Like even now, like in 2020, I started reading a lot of history books because I wanted to just get some context for what was happening in the world and everything has already happened. That's happening right now in some form or another. And that's what makes history so powerful. And I think the same is true for trying to understand your journey. So if you're a marketing manager, you want to become CMO, go and find one or two CMO that you think might work for a company that you like or have done some things in your career that you want to do and just focus on studying the moves of those one or two people as opposed to like everyone in that industry. So the same way you're going to focus on one or two core strengths go and focus on one or two core people. And also one or two core resources. I used to get paralyzed by that to keep up with everything. I got to read every marketing blog. If I'm going to know everything and nope, I don't need, I don't need to do that will take forever to try to keep up, and you'll never make any progress. So instead, I was like, You know what? I'm just going to read Saaster content. OK, great. And I think like, you just got to pick one or two kind of channels and producers to go deep on.

Chris Byers: Also talking just about that idea of you talk about progress and keep the bit of the keeping up with the Joneses. Like the moment you do something great, the bad news is you get to do something greater next. How do you manage that kind of balance of being creative and innovative? But I don't know. You can't always be on to the next thing. You have to have some, some balance there.

Dave Gerhardt: Part of it is like, welcome to the job in marketing, and that is what it is, which is you just did something ridiculous. Great. You've just reset the bar for what we need from you. And that is what it is. You just got to accept that as part of the job, which is if you do great things, people are just going to continue to want more. If you hit big goals, people are going to continue to want bigger goals. That's kind of part of the growth, the growth climbing.

Chris Byers: I love it. I know I've been thinking a lot about, especially coming out of tough year last year. There is this kind of moment of you do need to, I don't know, just find a little bit of balance. There's always going to be something new. There's always going to be something bigger. But we also need to find some space to step back and just observe like what's happening in the world.

Dave Gerhardt: This is why you need goals. Goals should frame what you're going to focus in what you're going to spend your time on. And I always try to push back on, and I'm the number one culprit of suggesting new ideas. When we don't, we don't. We don't need them and being a distraction for the team. I love those discussions, like with the team that me, for example, I might suggest something. And because we have a very clear goal setting process, they would say, Yeah, this is a cool idea, Dave. But is this more important than these three things that we're working on right now, which we've declared are the most important things that we're working on because they serve X, Y and Z goal? And I'm like, No, you're right. OK, cool. It's my job to suggest new ideas and push the team. But if you have clear goals and guardrails and a lot of my marketing teams don't have that and I've fallen in that trap before, and it's a mistake, which is you've got to have some type of operating principle. So here are the goals for our team here. The objectives that we set like basically, how do we think we're going to achieve those goals? And this is the thing that we're going to work on. Those things should be priority number one. If we're good in those areas and or have bonus time to go and do them, then that's when we should go explore the new things. But I think you need that scoreboard to fall back on. Otherwise you're just like, it's going to be it's going to be endless.

Chris Byers: When you're striving, you're not hitting the goal. What do you do to like, make sure you don't hit that moment? Burnout.

Dave Gerhardt: It's tough nobody likes missing goals, but like at the end, I think first it's you're you're not going to hit the goal every single week, every single month, every single quarter, every single year. And a lot of times marketing is not the sole reason why you're not. Why you're not hitting the goal, sometimes it is right, but I think it's it's your job in marketing to not only hit the goal, but to understand why you are not hitting the goal. And so if I'm not, if I'm not hitting our goals. Sometimes that's OK, it's a bummer, but I want to make sure that we can articulate why and have actions and plans for how we're going to fix that or what we might do, or if there's things we don't know the answer to. How can we know those things early on enough where we can bring them up to the CEO or the chief product officer, whoever and have productive conversations with other people? Ultimately, the best marketing is an amazing product, and I'm the biggest advocate for marketing. I'm not just saying you can just have a good product and exists, but like it's much easier to do marketing at Zoom than it is for Dave's water bottle store. And so I think you got to be able to, like, have conversations about your goals and marketing and say, Hey, where hey SEO, where we're going to miss our goal this quarter? Here's why. Here's what we're going to do about it. Here's two or three areas that we might want to have discussion about what we might need from other teams or things that we're seeing or churn is high in this area. So it's it's very rarely on you if it is a very specific marketing thing that to me, this can be some of the fun part of the job. Yeah, it's frustrating. You're not going to win every single time you go play mini golf, you're not going to make a hole in one every single time. So I think that's delusional that if you're going to be upset every time you miss a goal, it's OK to be competitive, but if you're going to be burnt out. But I think again, it goes so far back to setting clear goals and expectations because if you miss your goals and the team is burnt out and working like crazy, that to me says that you're most likely working on the wrong stuff. And so how do you improve the feedback loop with the team in your one on ones with campaign planning and whatever to like, at least have a good feeling of work on the right stuff? If I think that we're working on the right stuff and we miss, but we miss goals. That's OK. I'd rather miss that way than we're working on the wrong stuff and we're missing goals. That's where it starts to like to get into troublesome territory.

Chris Byers: I really like that idea of talking about the why and understanding the why of why you are or not hitting goals as CEO. I love that comment you made. I really don't mind when we the missed goal at times, especially and maybe only if if I know what, because otherwise I don't know where to jump in and help. I don't know where to give you some extra funds. I don't know where to redirect.

Dave Gerhardt: It could be not. It could be things not related to marketing. It could be like the product market fit has changed. A new competitor has come into the space. There isn't a need, there's lots of other things. And ultimately marketing is also just problem solving, and it's a channel to generate revenue for the company. And if that channel is not working, then you just go and run the five whys on it and figure out figure out why and then what are the next steps. And I think it's one thing to miss a goal and explain why that's OK. The best scenario is you miss a goal, you explain why and the team is presenting, and here's the four things that we're going to do about it. OK, great. At least feel like we're in control. And then if it goes in other weeks and months and quarters after that and you're still not making progress, and that's when you look, do we have the right team or do we have the right marketing strategy? Do we have the right people?

Chris Byers: Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Dave isn't afraid to think outside the box when it comes to B2B marketing. So if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to accomplish more with their marketing efforts?

Dave Gerhardt: I think an advantage that I am realizing now that I've created for myself is like my obsession and interest in marketing has been advantageous to my creativity because I'm just consuming so much content, whether that's books, podcasts, videos, seeing ads, watching talks. And that's the stuff that I'm interesting and reading about and learning about, and it's allowed me to almost be. I feel like I can be creative on demand now. Not that my ideas are always going to be good, but I can be creative on demand because I feel like I have enough of a bank of operating principles to be able to say, OK, yeah, I could probably come up with a creative idea for this ad. What's the goal, OK? And I have some kind of operating principles to help me come up with that. So I think like the more knowledge you can soak in about, like if you want to if you want to do better, if you want to do better ads, best way to do that is go and pick up a book. Hey, go read Hey Whipple, squeeze this, but then also go and look at become obsessed with looking at the creative of four or five brands that you think are inspirational for you. And then now that you're consuming that stuff all the time, the next time you have the blank slate, you have a little bit of a baseline link back to what I said earlier about role models. Almost everything that's been done has already been done, and so you should go and find a role model. So if you're going to launch your first event this year, go back and see what their first event look like in two thousand and three. Go see that web page. Go in the MIT Wayback Machine and go find that initial copy. You got to start there.

Chris Byers: As we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you want people to think about when it comes to bringing more humanity into B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I don't know if I would use the term humanity into B2B marketing, but for me, it's more just just be it be a real person. There is not B2B Dave versus B2C Dave versus consumer Dave. Like, I'm just Dave. You have to. Understand how Dave makes decisions and is motivated and so focused on studying people. Marketing is how can you be good at marketing if you don't understand how people make decisions? I think that's where you got to focus.

Chris Byers: What do you think people listening can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Dave Gerhardt: I think that there's a lot of stuff going on in the world, and I think that at the end of the day, marketing goal. Especially for for so many of us that are working at what, well-funded SAS companies, I think that it's not make or break, it's not the most important thing happening in the world. And I think that this last year has been an important reset for a lot of people in that sense. And so I'm not saying don't have ambitions and don't go try to hit big goals, but you've got to think about things in the context of what's happening in the world. And sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as marketers. And it's hard, right? If you're working from home, you're on slack, you're on email, you're on Zoom, you're just in this tunnel all day. Get outside. Take a step away. Go for a walk. Go work out. Have a drink of water, go for a hike. Go meditate. You need something that's going to get you out of the vacuum and realize that, yes, this is my job and I want to help my company succeed. And this is important. But however, you've got to be able to be spending time with your family and your kids and being outside and taking care of your health. There's always been this. You see these stories of just burnt out founders or exacts or I tell this one example, but this is pre-pandemic. But I listen to some podcast with the CMO of like a multibillion dollar company. And I think the CMO said, Yeah, the best part of my day is when I face time with my kids on the train ride into work. I'm like, when you face time with your kid, how about just be home? And I just think more people, this is a rant, but I want to just a big thing that I'm passionate about is my, my family and my time and. Being there with them and I'm going to do the best job for the company, and I love marketing goals, but like I tell my team today, you got to prioritize yourself, you have to prioritize yourself, you have to have that mental health space and sanity for yourself. And I think I don't necessarily have a lesson in this rant. I just wanted to put this out into the universe and hopefully someone will say, Oh yeah, it's not the end of the world. And I know that there's probably VCs and whoever out there that don't want to hear it don't want to hear that, Oh, here's a guy who doesn't want to grow. And that's not the truth. I think there's a fourth. This guy, Brad Stolberg is an author, and he did some work. He spoke at our events at Drift back in the day. He always tweets about this formula. Stress plus rest equals growth. And I love that there's going to be time to work, but there's also going to be time to unplug and do your thing. And I get my best ideas for work. When I'm not sitting at the computer, I'll go play golf for four hours or go for a walk, or I'll go work out. And it's like when you're sub, when you're like unconscious mind is not actively working. That's when all the good stuff happens. So you just got to make sure that you take that time to well.

Chris Byers: So as a final question, one of the conversations will often have with people or just a question is how do you view failure and when that plays out in your life, how do you view it? What's the lesson you learn from it? Or how do you think about it?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's a learning. I don't think it's a failure. I don't think it's a failure. I think it's a learning. I think every mistake that I've made at work over the last 10 years has actually made me better because I've already made those mistakes now. So I know better or I should know better or I've made hiring mistakes. But I've had to have made hiring mistakes and hire that person and fire that person or whatever, or try that idea and have it flop like that. That's all. Those are all like learning credits that are now in my bank. And so I can lean on them, I can rely on them. And so they have made me better. And everybody likes failure is relative. If you said, if you create a marketing campaign, it doesn't work. Is that a failure or did you now just learn that this type of campaign didn't work for some particular reason? And now you've eliminated one decision? And so the next time you don't, you have it easier. OK, we know that doesn't work. So we're going to start here. Every failures are learning.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work. Head over to practicallygenius.com Also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Chris Byers: Dave Gerhardt is regarded as one of the leading brand builders in B2B today. An author, a podcast host, and community builder with his DG marketing group of over 2500 members. Before joining Privy, he led marketing at Drift for over four years and helped create one of the fastest growing SAS companies in the world. How has he been able to stand out and make an impact in B2B marketing? That's the story will uncover in this episode. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact our decisions create.

Chris Byers: Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Byers: Let's just start with what's the opportunity today with B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I love giving marketing advice, for sure. However, I think the challenge with that is it's not a it's not a paint by numbers approach. And so even if you hear something that you think is maybe interesting or insightful from us today, there's ultimately so many factors that that go on inside of the company. Your companies, your customers, your price point, the market, the competition. There's so many factors that could be contributing to your success in marketing. And so there's a lot there. Don't take anybody's paint by numbers approach to marketing. However, I do think that one of the biggest misconceptions in B2B is that it has to be so different than consumer marketing B2C, whatever you want to call it. When I think that what's happened now is we're all just we're all just consumers, and the opportunity is as a B2B brand, you can have a direct relationship with your customers. And that's not just for direct to consumer brands, that's for B2B meaning. If you sell financial software, you can go and reach all of your customers online and you can use all of those channels to really build an audience and build an audience of your dream customers. And so I think like one thing that I've been championing for a couple of years now is just, you don't have to do B2B marketing like traditional B2B marketing in order to be successful, just because that's how everyone's always done it. I think the key is to go back and study like how people make decisions and look at where people are spending time. So not where it be to be buyer spending time. Because guess what? I'm a B2B buyer, I'm a CMO, but I'm also a dad. I'm also a husband, I'm also a golfer. And so I'm a consumer. I'm doing all those things in other channels, too. Don't just go look at what Gartner and Forrester and serious decisions and whoever CMO, what what they're talking about, go and study what people are doing. Go study how people are behaving. Not just today, but go back and study like social psychology and direct response advertising and learn the timeless kind of principles of marketing. Those are my favorite things to think about applying to B2B today.

Chris Byers: I think it can easily be thought of as frankly, a little bit boring to, you know, that B2B marketing. We think of big brands like Nike and consumer ads. I'm curious, what are some examples of maybe some brands or things you've seen in the market that you think are good examples of ways people are doing B2B marketing and it just a much better way.

Dave Gerhardt: I always give this example now and I'm mad at myself because they don't have another one. I think Drift has historically done a good job. I think this was a big thing that I was proud of when I was there, which is instead of building a brand about our product marketing and sales technology, we built a brand for marketers. And so everything that we did was focused on how do we build an audience and a community of marketing people? And if we can do that, if we can get them to trust us through our content and our relationships and our community that can give us a moat. And so I think, like the drift marketing strategy was very strong. Because of that, I think Gong Gio and Gong is a great example of a company that's doing that in that they clearly know their audience. They clearly know the persona that they're selling to. They don't just write 500 word clickbait blog posts. They publish in-depth reports about objection handling. They do a good job of leading content first. I think the best marketing strategy today, if you're a B2B brand, is to be perceived as the expert in your niche. And so if you're going and you're selling to salespeople, how can you build a brand around? Hey, we are the number-one brand to follow if you want to get better at sales because that has nothing to do with gangs product that has everything to do with. I'm in sales. I want to follow their Instagram account. I want to follow their LinkedIn account because I want to do better at my job. And if I now create that relationship for that brand, guess who I'm going to buy from? Because most people are not really just buying one product, they're shopping. And so if I'm shopping around when it's time for me to buy product, it can help me. Record sales calls. It manages sales team performance. The first brand I'm going to turn to is the brand that I've been listening to podcast for six months, and I've been always getting interesting stuff from on LinkedIn.

Chris Byers: And I think you've touched on it just a little bit in some of the ways that people think about brand, probably in the wrong way that let's just write some more content that is promoting ourselves. Yeah. What are the things you think brands get wrong?

Dave Gerhardt: So one is they think about themselves first and we're all selfish and. Whether you will admit that publicly or not, it's OK, because if there's a public version of being selfish, but also we're just wired to think for ourselves and defend for ourselves first. And so I see a lot of companies putting out messaging into the world that is very company focused. Whereas no talk, talk about me, come to me, I'll give you I'll give you one example of this. Somebody reached out to me the other day and they said, Hey, have you ever done anything with like an influencer type partnership? I said, No, we would like you to try our software. We'll let you try it for free, and then we'd like you to write about it and tell your followers on LinkedIn as like why in the world what? I want to do that? Why would I do that? It makes no said there's nothing in it for me to do it that way. And so I think that's one small example of that is the thing that most B2B brands get wrong is they don't have a deep understanding of what are the wants and needs and desires of the customer. And so they just lead with their we're the leading cloud based A.I. whatever garbage jargon kind of descriptions, everything starts with a selfish benefit. And so the very first thing is like, what is a selfish benefit of using my product as a customer instead of just generating leads or generating revenue? You might get promoted in your job. You might progress your career faster. You might be seen as a leader and an expert in your industry. You might get more credibility and trust inside of the company, right? Those are all like fundamental human desires that a lot of companies don't try to lead with. The other thing is, I see a lot of creative that isn't very creative in that. If you scroll through LinkedIn and you just see ads, they all look the same. They all look like ads. And I think a lot of times we don't look at the context of the channel that we're trying to create content in. And so if you're advertising on LinkedIn, the very first thing that I would be doing is going and looking at what is all the other creative and content. What is that that's already being advertised on LinkedIn? What does that look like? Because so often all of us are just scrolling aimlessly through our feeds. I want mine to stand out. I want mine to be the opposite. I want mine to interrupt the pattern of you scrolling, and that doesn't mean that I have to do it in a click baity, annoying, in-your-face kind of way. It means that I need to understand the context of what's happening that channel, because the best product is not always going to win. Oftentimes, when you're trying to promote your stuff on social media or content or whatever, you have to actually be interesting. And so to do that, you've got to look at what's happening. I see a lot of basically like kind of stock image looking creative where I would just take an iPhone video with some text on it on LinkedIn as an ad would probably perform much better than the highly sanitized looking banner.

Chris Byers: So my guess is in the marketing group that you have 2500 plus people, they're thinking about problems like this and challenges. What are the things that are top of mind for them that they're thinking about these days?

Dave Gerhardt: I think there's been a huge shift to marketers focusing on revenue first. I'm seeing a lot of marketers who it's awesome because they're really focused on marketing as a team, as responsible for delivering revenue, not marketing as a team that's responsible for getting us branded frisbees and pens and T-shirts and swag for the event. Marketing is like the key driver of revenue in the company. And with that, also seeing CEOs thinking about marketing from that perspective, more CEOs wanting to invest in marketing, more CEOs wanting to take chances and do more interesting and creative things in marketing to serve those revenue goals.

Chris Byers: Talked a little bit about this how to make inroads with your customers. It's really taking their needs and wants and desires into play. But I think most marketing people arrive to their job. And then even these days, to your point, they're going to get an MQ l goal or a lead goal or a follower goal. So how do I like skip through that and get started saying OK, but I need to connect with people? What do you think those first steps are?

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, I think the first step is to listen to the customers. And unless you're joining a company where you have no customers, most times you're going in and you're taking a job or you're working on a new initiative, and you have to remember that everything like we do a lot of things in marketing, but the whole point is to get customers. And so you have to have your finger on the pulse of what customers are talking about, what they're thinking about and what's amazing is like that used to be, Oh hey, Sarah, can I join a couple of your sales calls next week? OK? And I got to go sit at Sarah's desk with her or dial into a Zoom call. Hey, Dave, from the marketing teams on, and that's fine. But also what's really cool now is you can use a product like Gong and there's even just listening to like Zoom recordings. That stuff is so easily available. When I joined Privy, the very first thing that I did was I got the gong app on my phone and literally for two weeks, I took any time that I would listen to an audio book or podcast instead or work out what, like, why I was working on. I was literally listening to customer calls, and it was amazing because in the course of two weeks, I probably listen to 40 50 customer calls and on my own schedule, on my own time, on my phone and through that you start to be able to hear the words customers are using start to be able to do some pattern matching. And by the way, if you ever listen to customer calls, you know that every customer is different. Yes. But let's say of those 50 calls, 80 percent of the questions are going to be the same. And ultimately, the best thing you can do as a marketer is get inside of the head of your customer. I think social media is great because you can just passively see what people are talking about. But pairing that with listening to sales calls and having a close relationship with the sales team and support team, that stuff really goes a long way for understanding your customer.

Chris Byers: I love that you mentioned pattern recognition would love for you to talk just a little bit more about that. Do you think that's important and thinking about connecting with customers?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's important with knowing what to create in order to connect with customers, because like connecting with customers in order to connect with a customer, you have to create something, whether that's you're sending an email or you making a video or you're doing a podcast like it's got to be something there. And so how can you know what to create? You have to be able to like, have, I think one of the underrated skills that doesn't get talked about enough in marketing is having taste and not taste for designing your apartment, but like taste for understanding what things might be interesting to customers. And so like when you go and listen to 10, 20, 30, 40 calls, the same things start to come up over and over and so you can start to think about. Everyone has this one objection about they think it's too expensive. OK. So should we just do nothing about that? Should we complain to the product team and change the pricing? Or should I think about it? Huh? How can I as a marker? What can I do to help with that objection? Here's an idea. What if we had a page on our website that was perfect com slash proof? And it was all case studies and testimonials, and there was an ROI calculator on there and we could have people, you know, fill that out as part of the process. OK, cool. So now let's say you solve that problem, and two months later, you're hearing less questions come up about that objection. That's an amazing use of marketing.

Chris Byers: Tell us a little bit about GMG. Why it's needed. What are you trying to solve in the world?

Dave Gerhardt: What happened was I started my own private podcast through Patreon when I left drift and that thing grew so fast. In a couple of months, it was five hundred members and I relearned the most important lesson in marketing, which is, man, if you have an audience, the value of learning through that audience is so powerful and so through, let's say, the first 500 paying members of my patron. I learned that yes, some people, some crazy people out there want to hear my rants and ravings about marketing. But most of the people in here, wow, they're asking questions about hiring and campaign planning and presenting to the board and managing up. And how do you hire product marketing person? What are good interview questions for an intern? And it was through that community that that that Patreon group that I was like, Whoa, there's something bigger in here. And so that ended up launching a community which is on Facebook and then through that community on Facebook continued discussion about that type of stuff, and it continued to grow. Now today it's 2500 members, and I just launched something called GMG University, which is I wanted to have one library where you can go as a marketer and type in presenting to the board and you'll find two videos and a template, for example. And you know, maybe you can go through that stuff before your next board meeting. And so the need was I didn't know it was there, but it was through the audience. I learned that there was this hunger for marketing content. I knew it because I the only reason I was able to launch my Patreon was because of LinkedIn. There was enough people who were interested in my stuff and comments via LinkedIn and Twitter that that's how I got my first couple hundred members on Patreon. But then it was through that group that you learn, Wow, there's something bigger here people want. They literally want a college education. They want Netflix for marketing. They want masterclass. Com for marketing content. It's marketing. I like talking about marketing. I like doing stuff for marketing. I like creating content. So that kind of led to piecing this thing together, and it's just continued to grow from there. People have this hunger to invest in them in themselves. And yeah, sure, I'll spend one hundred bucks a year or two hundred bucks a year, and most people expand it to their company anyway, learning how to get better at my job. And I think it's become a pretty cool thing. A single thing that I learned in school, high school and college. That's not to knock either of those places, but it hasn't helped me in my career in marketing. I came up with this tagline for GMG, which I think is so true, which is no one goes to school for B2B marketing, and I've seen that the most valuable things for me. As a first time marketing leader, let's say a drift was like getting outside of the four walls of my company, like meeting the director of marketing at Marketo, at lunch at Saaster, picking her brain and being like, Wow, I just learned so much. I just learned so much internal things like, here's how Marketo does it. And I felt that myself and I got addicted to like watching videos and listening to podcasts. And so I you worked at an amazing company, but I also educated myself and I invested in myself. And I think it's one way of, I don't know, I wanted to create this content and put it back out in the world to help other people get better at their jobs in marketing. Because I think so much of what we do in B2B marketing, like you get caught up in such meaningless stuff, the perfect template for planning your campaigns are creating your budget or like what the best practice framework is. And it's so much of that stuff should just be decisions that should be eliminated because it's like here, just use this like there's 15 different ways you could do positioning, but here's this one that I really like. It gets the job done and it's going to get you what you need, and you should not be spending five hours out of your week deciding I want positioning template to use. You should freaking pick up Positioning tab and use it and be getting feedback already.

Chris Byers: What advice do you have? For people who you may want to use their experience and expertize to teach and or equip, whether online or in a college classroom, what did you learn about how to get that message across?

Dave Gerhardt: For me, it's been like learning about something where there's value back to me. I liked copywriting. I liked marketing. And so by being by focusing on like getting better at the specific example from drifters like David pushed me to study copywriting and direct response advertising because there's a bunch of natural things you already do. If you learn these, you'll be able to unlock. So what that did was he showed me like, Hey, don't try to become this T-shaped marketer. Don't worry about trying to study SAS metrics and conversion rate optimization and SEO and marketing automation. Just focus on copywriting. And so the thing that changed for me with learning was like learning with the I still don't enjoy reading. It's not like what I sit down to do to just pass an hour. But I read every day because I read to learn about something specific. And so I think if you want to become a marketing leader or you want to become a video producer or you want to become a product marketing leader, like it's way better to zone in on that particular topic and then go deep on that topic as opposed to try to pick from everything. And I think that really helped, which was like, Hey, you don't have to go and try to be great at all. These things pick out the one thing. I think the other thing is, look for you've got to find a role model or two. For example, if I wanted to become great at product marketing, I wouldn't study every product marketer I would go and find like, who's one or two like amazing product marketing leaders that are maybe five years ahead of me, literally go find their LinkedIn profile and try to go and follow and see everything that they've done and find that journey. Because, like history, just histories is the best like lesson. Like even now, like in 2020, I started reading a lot of history books because I wanted to just get some context for what was happening in the world and everything has already happened. That's happening right now in some form or another. And that's what makes history so powerful. And I think the same is true for trying to understand your journey. So if you're a marketing manager, you want to become CMO, go and find one or two CMO that you think might work for a company that you like or have done some things in your career that you want to do and just focus on studying the moves of those one or two people as opposed to like everyone in that industry. So the same way you're going to focus on one or two core strengths go and focus on one or two core people. And also one or two core resources. I used to get paralyzed by that to keep up with everything. I got to read every marketing blog. If I'm going to know everything and nope, I don't need, I don't need to do that will take forever to try to keep up, and you'll never make any progress. So instead, I was like, You know what? I'm just going to read Saaster content. OK, great. And I think like, you just got to pick one or two kind of channels and producers to go deep on.

Chris Byers: Also talking just about that idea of you talk about progress and keep the bit of the keeping up with the Joneses. Like the moment you do something great, the bad news is you get to do something greater next. How do you manage that kind of balance of being creative and innovative? But I don't know. You can't always be on to the next thing. You have to have some, some balance there.

Dave Gerhardt: Part of it is like, welcome to the job in marketing, and that is what it is, which is you just did something ridiculous. Great. You've just reset the bar for what we need from you. And that is what it is. You just got to accept that as part of the job, which is if you do great things, people are just going to continue to want more. If you hit big goals, people are going to continue to want bigger goals. That's kind of part of the growth, the growth climbing.

Chris Byers: I love it. I know I've been thinking a lot about, especially coming out of tough year last year. There is this kind of moment of you do need to, I don't know, just find a little bit of balance. There's always going to be something new. There's always going to be something bigger. But we also need to find some space to step back and just observe like what's happening in the world.

Dave Gerhardt: This is why you need goals. Goals should frame what you're going to focus in what you're going to spend your time on. And I always try to push back on, and I'm the number one culprit of suggesting new ideas. When we don't, we don't. We don't need them and being a distraction for the team. I love those discussions, like with the team that me, for example, I might suggest something. And because we have a very clear goal setting process, they would say, Yeah, this is a cool idea, Dave. But is this more important than these three things that we're working on right now, which we've declared are the most important things that we're working on because they serve X, Y and Z goal? And I'm like, No, you're right. OK, cool. It's my job to suggest new ideas and push the team. But if you have clear goals and guardrails and a lot of my marketing teams don't have that and I've fallen in that trap before, and it's a mistake, which is you've got to have some type of operating principle. So here are the goals for our team here. The objectives that we set like basically, how do we think we're going to achieve those goals? And this is the thing that we're going to work on. Those things should be priority number one. If we're good in those areas and or have bonus time to go and do them, then that's when we should go explore the new things. But I think you need that scoreboard to fall back on. Otherwise you're just like, it's going to be it's going to be endless.

Chris Byers: When you're striving, you're not hitting the goal. What do you do to like, make sure you don't hit that moment? Burnout.

Dave Gerhardt: It's tough nobody likes missing goals, but like at the end, I think first it's you're you're not going to hit the goal every single week, every single month, every single quarter, every single year. And a lot of times marketing is not the sole reason why you're not. Why you're not hitting the goal, sometimes it is right, but I think it's it's your job in marketing to not only hit the goal, but to understand why you are not hitting the goal. And so if I'm not, if I'm not hitting our goals. Sometimes that's OK, it's a bummer, but I want to make sure that we can articulate why and have actions and plans for how we're going to fix that or what we might do, or if there's things we don't know the answer to. How can we know those things early on enough where we can bring them up to the CEO or the chief product officer, whoever and have productive conversations with other people? Ultimately, the best marketing is an amazing product, and I'm the biggest advocate for marketing. I'm not just saying you can just have a good product and exists, but like it's much easier to do marketing at Zoom than it is for Dave's water bottle store. And so I think you got to be able to, like, have conversations about your goals and marketing and say, Hey, where hey SEO, where we're going to miss our goal this quarter? Here's why. Here's what we're going to do about it. Here's two or three areas that we might want to have discussion about what we might need from other teams or things that we're seeing or churn is high in this area. So it's it's very rarely on you if it is a very specific marketing thing that to me, this can be some of the fun part of the job. Yeah, it's frustrating. You're not going to win every single time you go play mini golf, you're not going to make a hole in one every single time. So I think that's delusional that if you're going to be upset every time you miss a goal, it's OK to be competitive, but if you're going to be burnt out. But I think again, it goes so far back to setting clear goals and expectations because if you miss your goals and the team is burnt out and working like crazy, that to me says that you're most likely working on the wrong stuff. And so how do you improve the feedback loop with the team in your one on ones with campaign planning and whatever to like, at least have a good feeling of work on the right stuff? If I think that we're working on the right stuff and we miss, but we miss goals. That's OK. I'd rather miss that way than we're working on the wrong stuff and we're missing goals. That's where it starts to like to get into troublesome territory.

Chris Byers: I really like that idea of talking about the why and understanding the why of why you are or not hitting goals as CEO. I love that comment you made. I really don't mind when we the missed goal at times, especially and maybe only if if I know what, because otherwise I don't know where to jump in and help. I don't know where to give you some extra funds. I don't know where to redirect.

Dave Gerhardt: It could be not. It could be things not related to marketing. It could be like the product market fit has changed. A new competitor has come into the space. There isn't a need, there's lots of other things. And ultimately marketing is also just problem solving, and it's a channel to generate revenue for the company. And if that channel is not working, then you just go and run the five whys on it and figure out figure out why and then what are the next steps. And I think it's one thing to miss a goal and explain why that's OK. The best scenario is you miss a goal, you explain why and the team is presenting, and here's the four things that we're going to do about it. OK, great. At least feel like we're in control. And then if it goes in other weeks and months and quarters after that and you're still not making progress, and that's when you look, do we have the right team or do we have the right marketing strategy? Do we have the right people?

Chris Byers: Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Dave isn't afraid to think outside the box when it comes to B2B marketing. So if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to accomplish more with their marketing efforts?

Dave Gerhardt: I think an advantage that I am realizing now that I've created for myself is like my obsession and interest in marketing has been advantageous to my creativity because I'm just consuming so much content, whether that's books, podcasts, videos, seeing ads, watching talks. And that's the stuff that I'm interesting and reading about and learning about, and it's allowed me to almost be. I feel like I can be creative on demand now. Not that my ideas are always going to be good, but I can be creative on demand because I feel like I have enough of a bank of operating principles to be able to say, OK, yeah, I could probably come up with a creative idea for this ad. What's the goal, OK? And I have some kind of operating principles to help me come up with that. So I think like the more knowledge you can soak in about, like if you want to if you want to do better, if you want to do better ads, best way to do that is go and pick up a book. Hey, go read Hey Whipple, squeeze this, but then also go and look at become obsessed with looking at the creative of four or five brands that you think are inspirational for you. And then now that you're consuming that stuff all the time, the next time you have the blank slate, you have a little bit of a baseline link back to what I said earlier about role models. Almost everything that's been done has already been done, and so you should go and find a role model. So if you're going to launch your first event this year, go back and see what their first event look like in two thousand and three. Go see that web page. Go in the MIT Wayback Machine and go find that initial copy. You got to start there.

Chris Byers: As we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you want people to think about when it comes to bringing more humanity into B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I don't know if I would use the term humanity into B2B marketing, but for me, it's more just just be it be a real person. There is not B2B Dave versus B2C Dave versus consumer Dave. Like, I'm just Dave. You have to. Understand how Dave makes decisions and is motivated and so focused on studying people. Marketing is how can you be good at marketing if you don't understand how people make decisions? I think that's where you got to focus.

Chris Byers: What do you think people listening can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Dave Gerhardt: I think that there's a lot of stuff going on in the world, and I think that at the end of the day, marketing goal. Especially for for so many of us that are working at what, well-funded SAS companies, I think that it's not make or break, it's not the most important thing happening in the world. And I think that this last year has been an important reset for a lot of people in that sense. And so I'm not saying don't have ambitions and don't go try to hit big goals, but you've got to think about things in the context of what's happening in the world. And sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as marketers. And it's hard, right? If you're working from home, you're on slack, you're on email, you're on Zoom, you're just in this tunnel all day. Get outside. Take a step away. Go for a walk. Go work out. Have a drink of water, go for a hike. Go meditate. You need something that's going to get you out of the vacuum and realize that, yes, this is my job and I want to help my company succeed. And this is important. But however, you've got to be able to be spending time with your family and your kids and being outside and taking care of your health. There's always been this. You see these stories of just burnt out founders or exacts or I tell this one example, but this is pre-pandemic. But I listen to some podcast with the CMO of like a multibillion dollar company. And I think the CMO said, Yeah, the best part of my day is when I face time with my kids on the train ride into work. I'm like, when you face time with your kid, how about just be home? And I just think more people, this is a rant, but I want to just a big thing that I'm passionate about is my, my family and my time and. Being there with them and I'm going to do the best job for the company, and I love marketing goals, but like I tell my team today, you got to prioritize yourself, you have to prioritize yourself, you have to have that mental health space and sanity for yourself. And I think I don't necessarily have a lesson in this rant. I just wanted to put this out into the universe and hopefully someone will say, Oh yeah, it's not the end of the world. And I know that there's probably VCs and whoever out there that don't want to hear it don't want to hear that, Oh, here's a guy who doesn't want to grow. And that's not the truth. I think there's a fourth. This guy, Brad Stolberg is an author, and he did some work. He spoke at our events at Drift back in the day. He always tweets about this formula. Stress plus rest equals growth. And I love that there's going to be time to work, but there's also going to be time to unplug and do your thing. And I get my best ideas for work. When I'm not sitting at the computer, I'll go play golf for four hours or go for a walk, or I'll go work out. And it's like when you're sub, when you're like unconscious mind is not actively working. That's when all the good stuff happens. So you just got to make sure that you take that time to well.

Chris Byers: So as a final question, one of the conversations will often have with people or just a question is how do you view failure and when that plays out in your life, how do you view it? What's the lesson you learn from it? Or how do you think about it?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's a learning. I don't think it's a failure. I don't think it's a failure. I think it's a learning. I think every mistake that I've made at work over the last 10 years has actually made me better because I've already made those mistakes now. So I know better or I should know better or I've made hiring mistakes. But I've had to have made hiring mistakes and hire that person and fire that person or whatever, or try that idea and have it flop like that. That's all. Those are all like learning credits that are now in my bank. And so I can lean on them, I can rely on them. And so they have made me better. And everybody likes failure is relative. If you said, if you create a marketing campaign, it doesn't work. Is that a failure or did you now just learn that this type of campaign didn't work for some particular reason? And now you've eliminated one decision? And so the next time you don't, you have it easier. OK, we know that doesn't work. So we're going to start here. Every failures are learning.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work. Head over to practicallygenius.com Also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Chris Byers: Dave Gerhardt is regarded as one of the leading brand builders in B2B today. An author, a podcast host, and community builder with his DG marketing group of over 2500 members. Before joining Privy, he led marketing at Drift for over four years and helped create one of the fastest growing SAS companies in the world. How has he been able to stand out and make an impact in B2B marketing? That's the story will uncover in this episode. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact our decisions create.

Chris Byers: Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Byers: Let's just start with what's the opportunity today with B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I love giving marketing advice, for sure. However, I think the challenge with that is it's not a it's not a paint by numbers approach. And so even if you hear something that you think is maybe interesting or insightful from us today, there's ultimately so many factors that that go on inside of the company. Your companies, your customers, your price point, the market, the competition. There's so many factors that could be contributing to your success in marketing. And so there's a lot there. Don't take anybody's paint by numbers approach to marketing. However, I do think that one of the biggest misconceptions in B2B is that it has to be so different than consumer marketing B2C, whatever you want to call it. When I think that what's happened now is we're all just we're all just consumers, and the opportunity is as a B2B brand, you can have a direct relationship with your customers. And that's not just for direct to consumer brands, that's for B2B meaning. If you sell financial software, you can go and reach all of your customers online and you can use all of those channels to really build an audience and build an audience of your dream customers. And so I think like one thing that I've been championing for a couple of years now is just, you don't have to do B2B marketing like traditional B2B marketing in order to be successful, just because that's how everyone's always done it. I think the key is to go back and study like how people make decisions and look at where people are spending time. So not where it be to be buyer spending time. Because guess what? I'm a B2B buyer, I'm a CMO, but I'm also a dad. I'm also a husband, I'm also a golfer. And so I'm a consumer. I'm doing all those things in other channels, too. Don't just go look at what Gartner and Forrester and serious decisions and whoever CMO, what what they're talking about, go and study what people are doing. Go study how people are behaving. Not just today, but go back and study like social psychology and direct response advertising and learn the timeless kind of principles of marketing. Those are my favorite things to think about applying to B2B today.

Chris Byers: I think it can easily be thought of as frankly, a little bit boring to, you know, that B2B marketing. We think of big brands like Nike and consumer ads. I'm curious, what are some examples of maybe some brands or things you've seen in the market that you think are good examples of ways people are doing B2B marketing and it just a much better way.

Dave Gerhardt: I always give this example now and I'm mad at myself because they don't have another one. I think Drift has historically done a good job. I think this was a big thing that I was proud of when I was there, which is instead of building a brand about our product marketing and sales technology, we built a brand for marketers. And so everything that we did was focused on how do we build an audience and a community of marketing people? And if we can do that, if we can get them to trust us through our content and our relationships and our community that can give us a moat. And so I think, like the drift marketing strategy was very strong. Because of that, I think Gong Gio and Gong is a great example of a company that's doing that in that they clearly know their audience. They clearly know the persona that they're selling to. They don't just write 500 word clickbait blog posts. They publish in-depth reports about objection handling. They do a good job of leading content first. I think the best marketing strategy today, if you're a B2B brand, is to be perceived as the expert in your niche. And so if you're going and you're selling to salespeople, how can you build a brand around? Hey, we are the number-one brand to follow if you want to get better at sales because that has nothing to do with gangs product that has everything to do with. I'm in sales. I want to follow their Instagram account. I want to follow their LinkedIn account because I want to do better at my job. And if I now create that relationship for that brand, guess who I'm going to buy from? Because most people are not really just buying one product, they're shopping. And so if I'm shopping around when it's time for me to buy product, it can help me. Record sales calls. It manages sales team performance. The first brand I'm going to turn to is the brand that I've been listening to podcast for six months, and I've been always getting interesting stuff from on LinkedIn.

Chris Byers: And I think you've touched on it just a little bit in some of the ways that people think about brand, probably in the wrong way that let's just write some more content that is promoting ourselves. Yeah. What are the things you think brands get wrong?

Dave Gerhardt: So one is they think about themselves first and we're all selfish and. Whether you will admit that publicly or not, it's OK, because if there's a public version of being selfish, but also we're just wired to think for ourselves and defend for ourselves first. And so I see a lot of companies putting out messaging into the world that is very company focused. Whereas no talk, talk about me, come to me, I'll give you I'll give you one example of this. Somebody reached out to me the other day and they said, Hey, have you ever done anything with like an influencer type partnership? I said, No, we would like you to try our software. We'll let you try it for free, and then we'd like you to write about it and tell your followers on LinkedIn as like why in the world what? I want to do that? Why would I do that? It makes no said there's nothing in it for me to do it that way. And so I think that's one small example of that is the thing that most B2B brands get wrong is they don't have a deep understanding of what are the wants and needs and desires of the customer. And so they just lead with their we're the leading cloud based A.I. whatever garbage jargon kind of descriptions, everything starts with a selfish benefit. And so the very first thing is like, what is a selfish benefit of using my product as a customer instead of just generating leads or generating revenue? You might get promoted in your job. You might progress your career faster. You might be seen as a leader and an expert in your industry. You might get more credibility and trust inside of the company, right? Those are all like fundamental human desires that a lot of companies don't try to lead with. The other thing is, I see a lot of creative that isn't very creative in that. If you scroll through LinkedIn and you just see ads, they all look the same. They all look like ads. And I think a lot of times we don't look at the context of the channel that we're trying to create content in. And so if you're advertising on LinkedIn, the very first thing that I would be doing is going and looking at what is all the other creative and content. What is that that's already being advertised on LinkedIn? What does that look like? Because so often all of us are just scrolling aimlessly through our feeds. I want mine to stand out. I want mine to be the opposite. I want mine to interrupt the pattern of you scrolling, and that doesn't mean that I have to do it in a click baity, annoying, in-your-face kind of way. It means that I need to understand the context of what's happening that channel, because the best product is not always going to win. Oftentimes, when you're trying to promote your stuff on social media or content or whatever, you have to actually be interesting. And so to do that, you've got to look at what's happening. I see a lot of basically like kind of stock image looking creative where I would just take an iPhone video with some text on it on LinkedIn as an ad would probably perform much better than the highly sanitized looking banner.

Chris Byers: So my guess is in the marketing group that you have 2500 plus people, they're thinking about problems like this and challenges. What are the things that are top of mind for them that they're thinking about these days?

Dave Gerhardt: I think there's been a huge shift to marketers focusing on revenue first. I'm seeing a lot of marketers who it's awesome because they're really focused on marketing as a team, as responsible for delivering revenue, not marketing as a team that's responsible for getting us branded frisbees and pens and T-shirts and swag for the event. Marketing is like the key driver of revenue in the company. And with that, also seeing CEOs thinking about marketing from that perspective, more CEOs wanting to invest in marketing, more CEOs wanting to take chances and do more interesting and creative things in marketing to serve those revenue goals.

Chris Byers: Talked a little bit about this how to make inroads with your customers. It's really taking their needs and wants and desires into play. But I think most marketing people arrive to their job. And then even these days, to your point, they're going to get an MQ l goal or a lead goal or a follower goal. So how do I like skip through that and get started saying OK, but I need to connect with people? What do you think those first steps are?

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, I think the first step is to listen to the customers. And unless you're joining a company where you have no customers, most times you're going in and you're taking a job or you're working on a new initiative, and you have to remember that everything like we do a lot of things in marketing, but the whole point is to get customers. And so you have to have your finger on the pulse of what customers are talking about, what they're thinking about and what's amazing is like that used to be, Oh hey, Sarah, can I join a couple of your sales calls next week? OK? And I got to go sit at Sarah's desk with her or dial into a Zoom call. Hey, Dave, from the marketing teams on, and that's fine. But also what's really cool now is you can use a product like Gong and there's even just listening to like Zoom recordings. That stuff is so easily available. When I joined Privy, the very first thing that I did was I got the gong app on my phone and literally for two weeks, I took any time that I would listen to an audio book or podcast instead or work out what, like, why I was working on. I was literally listening to customer calls, and it was amazing because in the course of two weeks, I probably listen to 40 50 customer calls and on my own schedule, on my own time, on my phone and through that you start to be able to hear the words customers are using start to be able to do some pattern matching. And by the way, if you ever listen to customer calls, you know that every customer is different. Yes. But let's say of those 50 calls, 80 percent of the questions are going to be the same. And ultimately, the best thing you can do as a marketer is get inside of the head of your customer. I think social media is great because you can just passively see what people are talking about. But pairing that with listening to sales calls and having a close relationship with the sales team and support team, that stuff really goes a long way for understanding your customer.

Chris Byers: I love that you mentioned pattern recognition would love for you to talk just a little bit more about that. Do you think that's important and thinking about connecting with customers?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's important with knowing what to create in order to connect with customers, because like connecting with customers in order to connect with a customer, you have to create something, whether that's you're sending an email or you making a video or you're doing a podcast like it's got to be something there. And so how can you know what to create? You have to be able to like, have, I think one of the underrated skills that doesn't get talked about enough in marketing is having taste and not taste for designing your apartment, but like taste for understanding what things might be interesting to customers. And so like when you go and listen to 10, 20, 30, 40 calls, the same things start to come up over and over and so you can start to think about. Everyone has this one objection about they think it's too expensive. OK. So should we just do nothing about that? Should we complain to the product team and change the pricing? Or should I think about it? Huh? How can I as a marker? What can I do to help with that objection? Here's an idea. What if we had a page on our website that was perfect com slash proof? And it was all case studies and testimonials, and there was an ROI calculator on there and we could have people, you know, fill that out as part of the process. OK, cool. So now let's say you solve that problem, and two months later, you're hearing less questions come up about that objection. That's an amazing use of marketing.

Chris Byers: Tell us a little bit about GMG. Why it's needed. What are you trying to solve in the world?

Dave Gerhardt: What happened was I started my own private podcast through Patreon when I left drift and that thing grew so fast. In a couple of months, it was five hundred members and I relearned the most important lesson in marketing, which is, man, if you have an audience, the value of learning through that audience is so powerful and so through, let's say, the first 500 paying members of my patron. I learned that yes, some people, some crazy people out there want to hear my rants and ravings about marketing. But most of the people in here, wow, they're asking questions about hiring and campaign planning and presenting to the board and managing up. And how do you hire product marketing person? What are good interview questions for an intern? And it was through that community that that that Patreon group that I was like, Whoa, there's something bigger in here. And so that ended up launching a community which is on Facebook and then through that community on Facebook continued discussion about that type of stuff, and it continued to grow. Now today it's 2500 members, and I just launched something called GMG University, which is I wanted to have one library where you can go as a marketer and type in presenting to the board and you'll find two videos and a template, for example. And you know, maybe you can go through that stuff before your next board meeting. And so the need was I didn't know it was there, but it was through the audience. I learned that there was this hunger for marketing content. I knew it because I the only reason I was able to launch my Patreon was because of LinkedIn. There was enough people who were interested in my stuff and comments via LinkedIn and Twitter that that's how I got my first couple hundred members on Patreon. But then it was through that group that you learn, Wow, there's something bigger here people want. They literally want a college education. They want Netflix for marketing. They want masterclass. Com for marketing content. It's marketing. I like talking about marketing. I like doing stuff for marketing. I like creating content. So that kind of led to piecing this thing together, and it's just continued to grow from there. People have this hunger to invest in them in themselves. And yeah, sure, I'll spend one hundred bucks a year or two hundred bucks a year, and most people expand it to their company anyway, learning how to get better at my job. And I think it's become a pretty cool thing. A single thing that I learned in school, high school and college. That's not to knock either of those places, but it hasn't helped me in my career in marketing. I came up with this tagline for GMG, which I think is so true, which is no one goes to school for B2B marketing, and I've seen that the most valuable things for me. As a first time marketing leader, let's say a drift was like getting outside of the four walls of my company, like meeting the director of marketing at Marketo, at lunch at Saaster, picking her brain and being like, Wow, I just learned so much. I just learned so much internal things like, here's how Marketo does it. And I felt that myself and I got addicted to like watching videos and listening to podcasts. And so I you worked at an amazing company, but I also educated myself and I invested in myself. And I think it's one way of, I don't know, I wanted to create this content and put it back out in the world to help other people get better at their jobs in marketing. Because I think so much of what we do in B2B marketing, like you get caught up in such meaningless stuff, the perfect template for planning your campaigns are creating your budget or like what the best practice framework is. And it's so much of that stuff should just be decisions that should be eliminated because it's like here, just use this like there's 15 different ways you could do positioning, but here's this one that I really like. It gets the job done and it's going to get you what you need, and you should not be spending five hours out of your week deciding I want positioning template to use. You should freaking pick up Positioning tab and use it and be getting feedback already.

Chris Byers: What advice do you have? For people who you may want to use their experience and expertize to teach and or equip, whether online or in a college classroom, what did you learn about how to get that message across?

Dave Gerhardt: For me, it's been like learning about something where there's value back to me. I liked copywriting. I liked marketing. And so by being by focusing on like getting better at the specific example from drifters like David pushed me to study copywriting and direct response advertising because there's a bunch of natural things you already do. If you learn these, you'll be able to unlock. So what that did was he showed me like, Hey, don't try to become this T-shaped marketer. Don't worry about trying to study SAS metrics and conversion rate optimization and SEO and marketing automation. Just focus on copywriting. And so the thing that changed for me with learning was like learning with the I still don't enjoy reading. It's not like what I sit down to do to just pass an hour. But I read every day because I read to learn about something specific. And so I think if you want to become a marketing leader or you want to become a video producer or you want to become a product marketing leader, like it's way better to zone in on that particular topic and then go deep on that topic as opposed to try to pick from everything. And I think that really helped, which was like, Hey, you don't have to go and try to be great at all. These things pick out the one thing. I think the other thing is, look for you've got to find a role model or two. For example, if I wanted to become great at product marketing, I wouldn't study every product marketer I would go and find like, who's one or two like amazing product marketing leaders that are maybe five years ahead of me, literally go find their LinkedIn profile and try to go and follow and see everything that they've done and find that journey. Because, like history, just histories is the best like lesson. Like even now, like in 2020, I started reading a lot of history books because I wanted to just get some context for what was happening in the world and everything has already happened. That's happening right now in some form or another. And that's what makes history so powerful. And I think the same is true for trying to understand your journey. So if you're a marketing manager, you want to become CMO, go and find one or two CMO that you think might work for a company that you like or have done some things in your career that you want to do and just focus on studying the moves of those one or two people as opposed to like everyone in that industry. So the same way you're going to focus on one or two core strengths go and focus on one or two core people. And also one or two core resources. I used to get paralyzed by that to keep up with everything. I got to read every marketing blog. If I'm going to know everything and nope, I don't need, I don't need to do that will take forever to try to keep up, and you'll never make any progress. So instead, I was like, You know what? I'm just going to read Saaster content. OK, great. And I think like, you just got to pick one or two kind of channels and producers to go deep on.

Chris Byers: Also talking just about that idea of you talk about progress and keep the bit of the keeping up with the Joneses. Like the moment you do something great, the bad news is you get to do something greater next. How do you manage that kind of balance of being creative and innovative? But I don't know. You can't always be on to the next thing. You have to have some, some balance there.

Dave Gerhardt: Part of it is like, welcome to the job in marketing, and that is what it is, which is you just did something ridiculous. Great. You've just reset the bar for what we need from you. And that is what it is. You just got to accept that as part of the job, which is if you do great things, people are just going to continue to want more. If you hit big goals, people are going to continue to want bigger goals. That's kind of part of the growth, the growth climbing.

Chris Byers: I love it. I know I've been thinking a lot about, especially coming out of tough year last year. There is this kind of moment of you do need to, I don't know, just find a little bit of balance. There's always going to be something new. There's always going to be something bigger. But we also need to find some space to step back and just observe like what's happening in the world.

Dave Gerhardt: This is why you need goals. Goals should frame what you're going to focus in what you're going to spend your time on. And I always try to push back on, and I'm the number one culprit of suggesting new ideas. When we don't, we don't. We don't need them and being a distraction for the team. I love those discussions, like with the team that me, for example, I might suggest something. And because we have a very clear goal setting process, they would say, Yeah, this is a cool idea, Dave. But is this more important than these three things that we're working on right now, which we've declared are the most important things that we're working on because they serve X, Y and Z goal? And I'm like, No, you're right. OK, cool. It's my job to suggest new ideas and push the team. But if you have clear goals and guardrails and a lot of my marketing teams don't have that and I've fallen in that trap before, and it's a mistake, which is you've got to have some type of operating principle. So here are the goals for our team here. The objectives that we set like basically, how do we think we're going to achieve those goals? And this is the thing that we're going to work on. Those things should be priority number one. If we're good in those areas and or have bonus time to go and do them, then that's when we should go explore the new things. But I think you need that scoreboard to fall back on. Otherwise you're just like, it's going to be it's going to be endless.

Chris Byers: When you're striving, you're not hitting the goal. What do you do to like, make sure you don't hit that moment? Burnout.

Dave Gerhardt: It's tough nobody likes missing goals, but like at the end, I think first it's you're you're not going to hit the goal every single week, every single month, every single quarter, every single year. And a lot of times marketing is not the sole reason why you're not. Why you're not hitting the goal, sometimes it is right, but I think it's it's your job in marketing to not only hit the goal, but to understand why you are not hitting the goal. And so if I'm not, if I'm not hitting our goals. Sometimes that's OK, it's a bummer, but I want to make sure that we can articulate why and have actions and plans for how we're going to fix that or what we might do, or if there's things we don't know the answer to. How can we know those things early on enough where we can bring them up to the CEO or the chief product officer, whoever and have productive conversations with other people? Ultimately, the best marketing is an amazing product, and I'm the biggest advocate for marketing. I'm not just saying you can just have a good product and exists, but like it's much easier to do marketing at Zoom than it is for Dave's water bottle store. And so I think you got to be able to, like, have conversations about your goals and marketing and say, Hey, where hey SEO, where we're going to miss our goal this quarter? Here's why. Here's what we're going to do about it. Here's two or three areas that we might want to have discussion about what we might need from other teams or things that we're seeing or churn is high in this area. So it's it's very rarely on you if it is a very specific marketing thing that to me, this can be some of the fun part of the job. Yeah, it's frustrating. You're not going to win every single time you go play mini golf, you're not going to make a hole in one every single time. So I think that's delusional that if you're going to be upset every time you miss a goal, it's OK to be competitive, but if you're going to be burnt out. But I think again, it goes so far back to setting clear goals and expectations because if you miss your goals and the team is burnt out and working like crazy, that to me says that you're most likely working on the wrong stuff. And so how do you improve the feedback loop with the team in your one on ones with campaign planning and whatever to like, at least have a good feeling of work on the right stuff? If I think that we're working on the right stuff and we miss, but we miss goals. That's OK. I'd rather miss that way than we're working on the wrong stuff and we're missing goals. That's where it starts to like to get into troublesome territory.

Chris Byers: I really like that idea of talking about the why and understanding the why of why you are or not hitting goals as CEO. I love that comment you made. I really don't mind when we the missed goal at times, especially and maybe only if if I know what, because otherwise I don't know where to jump in and help. I don't know where to give you some extra funds. I don't know where to redirect.

Dave Gerhardt: It could be not. It could be things not related to marketing. It could be like the product market fit has changed. A new competitor has come into the space. There isn't a need, there's lots of other things. And ultimately marketing is also just problem solving, and it's a channel to generate revenue for the company. And if that channel is not working, then you just go and run the five whys on it and figure out figure out why and then what are the next steps. And I think it's one thing to miss a goal and explain why that's OK. The best scenario is you miss a goal, you explain why and the team is presenting, and here's the four things that we're going to do about it. OK, great. At least feel like we're in control. And then if it goes in other weeks and months and quarters after that and you're still not making progress, and that's when you look, do we have the right team or do we have the right marketing strategy? Do we have the right people?

Chris Byers: Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Dave isn't afraid to think outside the box when it comes to B2B marketing. So if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to accomplish more with their marketing efforts?

Dave Gerhardt: I think an advantage that I am realizing now that I've created for myself is like my obsession and interest in marketing has been advantageous to my creativity because I'm just consuming so much content, whether that's books, podcasts, videos, seeing ads, watching talks. And that's the stuff that I'm interesting and reading about and learning about, and it's allowed me to almost be. I feel like I can be creative on demand now. Not that my ideas are always going to be good, but I can be creative on demand because I feel like I have enough of a bank of operating principles to be able to say, OK, yeah, I could probably come up with a creative idea for this ad. What's the goal, OK? And I have some kind of operating principles to help me come up with that. So I think like the more knowledge you can soak in about, like if you want to if you want to do better, if you want to do better ads, best way to do that is go and pick up a book. Hey, go read Hey Whipple, squeeze this, but then also go and look at become obsessed with looking at the creative of four or five brands that you think are inspirational for you. And then now that you're consuming that stuff all the time, the next time you have the blank slate, you have a little bit of a baseline link back to what I said earlier about role models. Almost everything that's been done has already been done, and so you should go and find a role model. So if you're going to launch your first event this year, go back and see what their first event look like in two thousand and three. Go see that web page. Go in the MIT Wayback Machine and go find that initial copy. You got to start there.

Chris Byers: As we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you want people to think about when it comes to bringing more humanity into B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I don't know if I would use the term humanity into B2B marketing, but for me, it's more just just be it be a real person. There is not B2B Dave versus B2C Dave versus consumer Dave. Like, I'm just Dave. You have to. Understand how Dave makes decisions and is motivated and so focused on studying people. Marketing is how can you be good at marketing if you don't understand how people make decisions? I think that's where you got to focus.

Chris Byers: What do you think people listening can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Dave Gerhardt: I think that there's a lot of stuff going on in the world, and I think that at the end of the day, marketing goal. Especially for for so many of us that are working at what, well-funded SAS companies, I think that it's not make or break, it's not the most important thing happening in the world. And I think that this last year has been an important reset for a lot of people in that sense. And so I'm not saying don't have ambitions and don't go try to hit big goals, but you've got to think about things in the context of what's happening in the world. And sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as marketers. And it's hard, right? If you're working from home, you're on slack, you're on email, you're on Zoom, you're just in this tunnel all day. Get outside. Take a step away. Go for a walk. Go work out. Have a drink of water, go for a hike. Go meditate. You need something that's going to get you out of the vacuum and realize that, yes, this is my job and I want to help my company succeed. And this is important. But however, you've got to be able to be spending time with your family and your kids and being outside and taking care of your health. There's always been this. You see these stories of just burnt out founders or exacts or I tell this one example, but this is pre-pandemic. But I listen to some podcast with the CMO of like a multibillion dollar company. And I think the CMO said, Yeah, the best part of my day is when I face time with my kids on the train ride into work. I'm like, when you face time with your kid, how about just be home? And I just think more people, this is a rant, but I want to just a big thing that I'm passionate about is my, my family and my time and. Being there with them and I'm going to do the best job for the company, and I love marketing goals, but like I tell my team today, you got to prioritize yourself, you have to prioritize yourself, you have to have that mental health space and sanity for yourself. And I think I don't necessarily have a lesson in this rant. I just wanted to put this out into the universe and hopefully someone will say, Oh yeah, it's not the end of the world. And I know that there's probably VCs and whoever out there that don't want to hear it don't want to hear that, Oh, here's a guy who doesn't want to grow. And that's not the truth. I think there's a fourth. This guy, Brad Stolberg is an author, and he did some work. He spoke at our events at Drift back in the day. He always tweets about this formula. Stress plus rest equals growth. And I love that there's going to be time to work, but there's also going to be time to unplug and do your thing. And I get my best ideas for work. When I'm not sitting at the computer, I'll go play golf for four hours or go for a walk, or I'll go work out. And it's like when you're sub, when you're like unconscious mind is not actively working. That's when all the good stuff happens. So you just got to make sure that you take that time to well.

Chris Byers: So as a final question, one of the conversations will often have with people or just a question is how do you view failure and when that plays out in your life, how do you view it? What's the lesson you learn from it? Or how do you think about it?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's a learning. I don't think it's a failure. I don't think it's a failure. I think it's a learning. I think every mistake that I've made at work over the last 10 years has actually made me better because I've already made those mistakes now. So I know better or I should know better or I've made hiring mistakes. But I've had to have made hiring mistakes and hire that person and fire that person or whatever, or try that idea and have it flop like that. That's all. Those are all like learning credits that are now in my bank. And so I can lean on them, I can rely on them. And so they have made me better. And everybody likes failure is relative. If you said, if you create a marketing campaign, it doesn't work. Is that a failure or did you now just learn that this type of campaign didn't work for some particular reason? And now you've eliminated one decision? And so the next time you don't, you have it easier. OK, we know that doesn't work. So we're going to start here. Every failures are learning.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work. Head over to practicallygenius.com Also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Chris Byers: Dave Gerhardt is regarded as one of the leading brand builders in B2B today. An author, a podcast host, and community builder with his DG marketing group of over 2500 members. Before joining Privy, he led marketing at Drift for over four years and helped create one of the fastest growing SAS companies in the world. How has he been able to stand out and make an impact in B2B marketing? That's the story will uncover in this episode. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact our decisions create.

Chris Byers: Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Byers: Let's just start with what's the opportunity today with B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I love giving marketing advice, for sure. However, I think the challenge with that is it's not a it's not a paint by numbers approach. And so even if you hear something that you think is maybe interesting or insightful from us today, there's ultimately so many factors that that go on inside of the company. Your companies, your customers, your price point, the market, the competition. There's so many factors that could be contributing to your success in marketing. And so there's a lot there. Don't take anybody's paint by numbers approach to marketing. However, I do think that one of the biggest misconceptions in B2B is that it has to be so different than consumer marketing B2C, whatever you want to call it. When I think that what's happened now is we're all just we're all just consumers, and the opportunity is as a B2B brand, you can have a direct relationship with your customers. And that's not just for direct to consumer brands, that's for B2B meaning. If you sell financial software, you can go and reach all of your customers online and you can use all of those channels to really build an audience and build an audience of your dream customers. And so I think like one thing that I've been championing for a couple of years now is just, you don't have to do B2B marketing like traditional B2B marketing in order to be successful, just because that's how everyone's always done it. I think the key is to go back and study like how people make decisions and look at where people are spending time. So not where it be to be buyer spending time. Because guess what? I'm a B2B buyer, I'm a CMO, but I'm also a dad. I'm also a husband, I'm also a golfer. And so I'm a consumer. I'm doing all those things in other channels, too. Don't just go look at what Gartner and Forrester and serious decisions and whoever CMO, what what they're talking about, go and study what people are doing. Go study how people are behaving. Not just today, but go back and study like social psychology and direct response advertising and learn the timeless kind of principles of marketing. Those are my favorite things to think about applying to B2B today.

Chris Byers: I think it can easily be thought of as frankly, a little bit boring to, you know, that B2B marketing. We think of big brands like Nike and consumer ads. I'm curious, what are some examples of maybe some brands or things you've seen in the market that you think are good examples of ways people are doing B2B marketing and it just a much better way.

Dave Gerhardt: I always give this example now and I'm mad at myself because they don't have another one. I think Drift has historically done a good job. I think this was a big thing that I was proud of when I was there, which is instead of building a brand about our product marketing and sales technology, we built a brand for marketers. And so everything that we did was focused on how do we build an audience and a community of marketing people? And if we can do that, if we can get them to trust us through our content and our relationships and our community that can give us a moat. And so I think, like the drift marketing strategy was very strong. Because of that, I think Gong Gio and Gong is a great example of a company that's doing that in that they clearly know their audience. They clearly know the persona that they're selling to. They don't just write 500 word clickbait blog posts. They publish in-depth reports about objection handling. They do a good job of leading content first. I think the best marketing strategy today, if you're a B2B brand, is to be perceived as the expert in your niche. And so if you're going and you're selling to salespeople, how can you build a brand around? Hey, we are the number-one brand to follow if you want to get better at sales because that has nothing to do with gangs product that has everything to do with. I'm in sales. I want to follow their Instagram account. I want to follow their LinkedIn account because I want to do better at my job. And if I now create that relationship for that brand, guess who I'm going to buy from? Because most people are not really just buying one product, they're shopping. And so if I'm shopping around when it's time for me to buy product, it can help me. Record sales calls. It manages sales team performance. The first brand I'm going to turn to is the brand that I've been listening to podcast for six months, and I've been always getting interesting stuff from on LinkedIn.

Chris Byers: And I think you've touched on it just a little bit in some of the ways that people think about brand, probably in the wrong way that let's just write some more content that is promoting ourselves. Yeah. What are the things you think brands get wrong?

Dave Gerhardt: So one is they think about themselves first and we're all selfish and. Whether you will admit that publicly or not, it's OK, because if there's a public version of being selfish, but also we're just wired to think for ourselves and defend for ourselves first. And so I see a lot of companies putting out messaging into the world that is very company focused. Whereas no talk, talk about me, come to me, I'll give you I'll give you one example of this. Somebody reached out to me the other day and they said, Hey, have you ever done anything with like an influencer type partnership? I said, No, we would like you to try our software. We'll let you try it for free, and then we'd like you to write about it and tell your followers on LinkedIn as like why in the world what? I want to do that? Why would I do that? It makes no said there's nothing in it for me to do it that way. And so I think that's one small example of that is the thing that most B2B brands get wrong is they don't have a deep understanding of what are the wants and needs and desires of the customer. And so they just lead with their we're the leading cloud based A.I. whatever garbage jargon kind of descriptions, everything starts with a selfish benefit. And so the very first thing is like, what is a selfish benefit of using my product as a customer instead of just generating leads or generating revenue? You might get promoted in your job. You might progress your career faster. You might be seen as a leader and an expert in your industry. You might get more credibility and trust inside of the company, right? Those are all like fundamental human desires that a lot of companies don't try to lead with. The other thing is, I see a lot of creative that isn't very creative in that. If you scroll through LinkedIn and you just see ads, they all look the same. They all look like ads. And I think a lot of times we don't look at the context of the channel that we're trying to create content in. And so if you're advertising on LinkedIn, the very first thing that I would be doing is going and looking at what is all the other creative and content. What is that that's already being advertised on LinkedIn? What does that look like? Because so often all of us are just scrolling aimlessly through our feeds. I want mine to stand out. I want mine to be the opposite. I want mine to interrupt the pattern of you scrolling, and that doesn't mean that I have to do it in a click baity, annoying, in-your-face kind of way. It means that I need to understand the context of what's happening that channel, because the best product is not always going to win. Oftentimes, when you're trying to promote your stuff on social media or content or whatever, you have to actually be interesting. And so to do that, you've got to look at what's happening. I see a lot of basically like kind of stock image looking creative where I would just take an iPhone video with some text on it on LinkedIn as an ad would probably perform much better than the highly sanitized looking banner.

Chris Byers: So my guess is in the marketing group that you have 2500 plus people, they're thinking about problems like this and challenges. What are the things that are top of mind for them that they're thinking about these days?

Dave Gerhardt: I think there's been a huge shift to marketers focusing on revenue first. I'm seeing a lot of marketers who it's awesome because they're really focused on marketing as a team, as responsible for delivering revenue, not marketing as a team that's responsible for getting us branded frisbees and pens and T-shirts and swag for the event. Marketing is like the key driver of revenue in the company. And with that, also seeing CEOs thinking about marketing from that perspective, more CEOs wanting to invest in marketing, more CEOs wanting to take chances and do more interesting and creative things in marketing to serve those revenue goals.

Chris Byers: Talked a little bit about this how to make inroads with your customers. It's really taking their needs and wants and desires into play. But I think most marketing people arrive to their job. And then even these days, to your point, they're going to get an MQ l goal or a lead goal or a follower goal. So how do I like skip through that and get started saying OK, but I need to connect with people? What do you think those first steps are?

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, I think the first step is to listen to the customers. And unless you're joining a company where you have no customers, most times you're going in and you're taking a job or you're working on a new initiative, and you have to remember that everything like we do a lot of things in marketing, but the whole point is to get customers. And so you have to have your finger on the pulse of what customers are talking about, what they're thinking about and what's amazing is like that used to be, Oh hey, Sarah, can I join a couple of your sales calls next week? OK? And I got to go sit at Sarah's desk with her or dial into a Zoom call. Hey, Dave, from the marketing teams on, and that's fine. But also what's really cool now is you can use a product like Gong and there's even just listening to like Zoom recordings. That stuff is so easily available. When I joined Privy, the very first thing that I did was I got the gong app on my phone and literally for two weeks, I took any time that I would listen to an audio book or podcast instead or work out what, like, why I was working on. I was literally listening to customer calls, and it was amazing because in the course of two weeks, I probably listen to 40 50 customer calls and on my own schedule, on my own time, on my phone and through that you start to be able to hear the words customers are using start to be able to do some pattern matching. And by the way, if you ever listen to customer calls, you know that every customer is different. Yes. But let's say of those 50 calls, 80 percent of the questions are going to be the same. And ultimately, the best thing you can do as a marketer is get inside of the head of your customer. I think social media is great because you can just passively see what people are talking about. But pairing that with listening to sales calls and having a close relationship with the sales team and support team, that stuff really goes a long way for understanding your customer.

Chris Byers: I love that you mentioned pattern recognition would love for you to talk just a little bit more about that. Do you think that's important and thinking about connecting with customers?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's important with knowing what to create in order to connect with customers, because like connecting with customers in order to connect with a customer, you have to create something, whether that's you're sending an email or you making a video or you're doing a podcast like it's got to be something there. And so how can you know what to create? You have to be able to like, have, I think one of the underrated skills that doesn't get talked about enough in marketing is having taste and not taste for designing your apartment, but like taste for understanding what things might be interesting to customers. And so like when you go and listen to 10, 20, 30, 40 calls, the same things start to come up over and over and so you can start to think about. Everyone has this one objection about they think it's too expensive. OK. So should we just do nothing about that? Should we complain to the product team and change the pricing? Or should I think about it? Huh? How can I as a marker? What can I do to help with that objection? Here's an idea. What if we had a page on our website that was perfect com slash proof? And it was all case studies and testimonials, and there was an ROI calculator on there and we could have people, you know, fill that out as part of the process. OK, cool. So now let's say you solve that problem, and two months later, you're hearing less questions come up about that objection. That's an amazing use of marketing.

Chris Byers: Tell us a little bit about GMG. Why it's needed. What are you trying to solve in the world?

Dave Gerhardt: What happened was I started my own private podcast through Patreon when I left drift and that thing grew so fast. In a couple of months, it was five hundred members and I relearned the most important lesson in marketing, which is, man, if you have an audience, the value of learning through that audience is so powerful and so through, let's say, the first 500 paying members of my patron. I learned that yes, some people, some crazy people out there want to hear my rants and ravings about marketing. But most of the people in here, wow, they're asking questions about hiring and campaign planning and presenting to the board and managing up. And how do you hire product marketing person? What are good interview questions for an intern? And it was through that community that that that Patreon group that I was like, Whoa, there's something bigger in here. And so that ended up launching a community which is on Facebook and then through that community on Facebook continued discussion about that type of stuff, and it continued to grow. Now today it's 2500 members, and I just launched something called GMG University, which is I wanted to have one library where you can go as a marketer and type in presenting to the board and you'll find two videos and a template, for example. And you know, maybe you can go through that stuff before your next board meeting. And so the need was I didn't know it was there, but it was through the audience. I learned that there was this hunger for marketing content. I knew it because I the only reason I was able to launch my Patreon was because of LinkedIn. There was enough people who were interested in my stuff and comments via LinkedIn and Twitter that that's how I got my first couple hundred members on Patreon. But then it was through that group that you learn, Wow, there's something bigger here people want. They literally want a college education. They want Netflix for marketing. They want masterclass. Com for marketing content. It's marketing. I like talking about marketing. I like doing stuff for marketing. I like creating content. So that kind of led to piecing this thing together, and it's just continued to grow from there. People have this hunger to invest in them in themselves. And yeah, sure, I'll spend one hundred bucks a year or two hundred bucks a year, and most people expand it to their company anyway, learning how to get better at my job. And I think it's become a pretty cool thing. A single thing that I learned in school, high school and college. That's not to knock either of those places, but it hasn't helped me in my career in marketing. I came up with this tagline for GMG, which I think is so true, which is no one goes to school for B2B marketing, and I've seen that the most valuable things for me. As a first time marketing leader, let's say a drift was like getting outside of the four walls of my company, like meeting the director of marketing at Marketo, at lunch at Saaster, picking her brain and being like, Wow, I just learned so much. I just learned so much internal things like, here's how Marketo does it. And I felt that myself and I got addicted to like watching videos and listening to podcasts. And so I you worked at an amazing company, but I also educated myself and I invested in myself. And I think it's one way of, I don't know, I wanted to create this content and put it back out in the world to help other people get better at their jobs in marketing. Because I think so much of what we do in B2B marketing, like you get caught up in such meaningless stuff, the perfect template for planning your campaigns are creating your budget or like what the best practice framework is. And it's so much of that stuff should just be decisions that should be eliminated because it's like here, just use this like there's 15 different ways you could do positioning, but here's this one that I really like. It gets the job done and it's going to get you what you need, and you should not be spending five hours out of your week deciding I want positioning template to use. You should freaking pick up Positioning tab and use it and be getting feedback already.

Chris Byers: What advice do you have? For people who you may want to use their experience and expertize to teach and or equip, whether online or in a college classroom, what did you learn about how to get that message across?

Dave Gerhardt: For me, it's been like learning about something where there's value back to me. I liked copywriting. I liked marketing. And so by being by focusing on like getting better at the specific example from drifters like David pushed me to study copywriting and direct response advertising because there's a bunch of natural things you already do. If you learn these, you'll be able to unlock. So what that did was he showed me like, Hey, don't try to become this T-shaped marketer. Don't worry about trying to study SAS metrics and conversion rate optimization and SEO and marketing automation. Just focus on copywriting. And so the thing that changed for me with learning was like learning with the I still don't enjoy reading. It's not like what I sit down to do to just pass an hour. But I read every day because I read to learn about something specific. And so I think if you want to become a marketing leader or you want to become a video producer or you want to become a product marketing leader, like it's way better to zone in on that particular topic and then go deep on that topic as opposed to try to pick from everything. And I think that really helped, which was like, Hey, you don't have to go and try to be great at all. These things pick out the one thing. I think the other thing is, look for you've got to find a role model or two. For example, if I wanted to become great at product marketing, I wouldn't study every product marketer I would go and find like, who's one or two like amazing product marketing leaders that are maybe five years ahead of me, literally go find their LinkedIn profile and try to go and follow and see everything that they've done and find that journey. Because, like history, just histories is the best like lesson. Like even now, like in 2020, I started reading a lot of history books because I wanted to just get some context for what was happening in the world and everything has already happened. That's happening right now in some form or another. And that's what makes history so powerful. And I think the same is true for trying to understand your journey. So if you're a marketing manager, you want to become CMO, go and find one or two CMO that you think might work for a company that you like or have done some things in your career that you want to do and just focus on studying the moves of those one or two people as opposed to like everyone in that industry. So the same way you're going to focus on one or two core strengths go and focus on one or two core people. And also one or two core resources. I used to get paralyzed by that to keep up with everything. I got to read every marketing blog. If I'm going to know everything and nope, I don't need, I don't need to do that will take forever to try to keep up, and you'll never make any progress. So instead, I was like, You know what? I'm just going to read Saaster content. OK, great. And I think like, you just got to pick one or two kind of channels and producers to go deep on.

Chris Byers: Also talking just about that idea of you talk about progress and keep the bit of the keeping up with the Joneses. Like the moment you do something great, the bad news is you get to do something greater next. How do you manage that kind of balance of being creative and innovative? But I don't know. You can't always be on to the next thing. You have to have some, some balance there.

Dave Gerhardt: Part of it is like, welcome to the job in marketing, and that is what it is, which is you just did something ridiculous. Great. You've just reset the bar for what we need from you. And that is what it is. You just got to accept that as part of the job, which is if you do great things, people are just going to continue to want more. If you hit big goals, people are going to continue to want bigger goals. That's kind of part of the growth, the growth climbing.

Chris Byers: I love it. I know I've been thinking a lot about, especially coming out of tough year last year. There is this kind of moment of you do need to, I don't know, just find a little bit of balance. There's always going to be something new. There's always going to be something bigger. But we also need to find some space to step back and just observe like what's happening in the world.

Dave Gerhardt: This is why you need goals. Goals should frame what you're going to focus in what you're going to spend your time on. And I always try to push back on, and I'm the number one culprit of suggesting new ideas. When we don't, we don't. We don't need them and being a distraction for the team. I love those discussions, like with the team that me, for example, I might suggest something. And because we have a very clear goal setting process, they would say, Yeah, this is a cool idea, Dave. But is this more important than these three things that we're working on right now, which we've declared are the most important things that we're working on because they serve X, Y and Z goal? And I'm like, No, you're right. OK, cool. It's my job to suggest new ideas and push the team. But if you have clear goals and guardrails and a lot of my marketing teams don't have that and I've fallen in that trap before, and it's a mistake, which is you've got to have some type of operating principle. So here are the goals for our team here. The objectives that we set like basically, how do we think we're going to achieve those goals? And this is the thing that we're going to work on. Those things should be priority number one. If we're good in those areas and or have bonus time to go and do them, then that's when we should go explore the new things. But I think you need that scoreboard to fall back on. Otherwise you're just like, it's going to be it's going to be endless.

Chris Byers: When you're striving, you're not hitting the goal. What do you do to like, make sure you don't hit that moment? Burnout.

Dave Gerhardt: It's tough nobody likes missing goals, but like at the end, I think first it's you're you're not going to hit the goal every single week, every single month, every single quarter, every single year. And a lot of times marketing is not the sole reason why you're not. Why you're not hitting the goal, sometimes it is right, but I think it's it's your job in marketing to not only hit the goal, but to understand why you are not hitting the goal. And so if I'm not, if I'm not hitting our goals. Sometimes that's OK, it's a bummer, but I want to make sure that we can articulate why and have actions and plans for how we're going to fix that or what we might do, or if there's things we don't know the answer to. How can we know those things early on enough where we can bring them up to the CEO or the chief product officer, whoever and have productive conversations with other people? Ultimately, the best marketing is an amazing product, and I'm the biggest advocate for marketing. I'm not just saying you can just have a good product and exists, but like it's much easier to do marketing at Zoom than it is for Dave's water bottle store. And so I think you got to be able to, like, have conversations about your goals and marketing and say, Hey, where hey SEO, where we're going to miss our goal this quarter? Here's why. Here's what we're going to do about it. Here's two or three areas that we might want to have discussion about what we might need from other teams or things that we're seeing or churn is high in this area. So it's it's very rarely on you if it is a very specific marketing thing that to me, this can be some of the fun part of the job. Yeah, it's frustrating. You're not going to win every single time you go play mini golf, you're not going to make a hole in one every single time. So I think that's delusional that if you're going to be upset every time you miss a goal, it's OK to be competitive, but if you're going to be burnt out. But I think again, it goes so far back to setting clear goals and expectations because if you miss your goals and the team is burnt out and working like crazy, that to me says that you're most likely working on the wrong stuff. And so how do you improve the feedback loop with the team in your one on ones with campaign planning and whatever to like, at least have a good feeling of work on the right stuff? If I think that we're working on the right stuff and we miss, but we miss goals. That's OK. I'd rather miss that way than we're working on the wrong stuff and we're missing goals. That's where it starts to like to get into troublesome territory.

Chris Byers: I really like that idea of talking about the why and understanding the why of why you are or not hitting goals as CEO. I love that comment you made. I really don't mind when we the missed goal at times, especially and maybe only if if I know what, because otherwise I don't know where to jump in and help. I don't know where to give you some extra funds. I don't know where to redirect.

Dave Gerhardt: It could be not. It could be things not related to marketing. It could be like the product market fit has changed. A new competitor has come into the space. There isn't a need, there's lots of other things. And ultimately marketing is also just problem solving, and it's a channel to generate revenue for the company. And if that channel is not working, then you just go and run the five whys on it and figure out figure out why and then what are the next steps. And I think it's one thing to miss a goal and explain why that's OK. The best scenario is you miss a goal, you explain why and the team is presenting, and here's the four things that we're going to do about it. OK, great. At least feel like we're in control. And then if it goes in other weeks and months and quarters after that and you're still not making progress, and that's when you look, do we have the right team or do we have the right marketing strategy? Do we have the right people?

Chris Byers: Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Dave isn't afraid to think outside the box when it comes to B2B marketing. So if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to accomplish more with their marketing efforts?

Dave Gerhardt: I think an advantage that I am realizing now that I've created for myself is like my obsession and interest in marketing has been advantageous to my creativity because I'm just consuming so much content, whether that's books, podcasts, videos, seeing ads, watching talks. And that's the stuff that I'm interesting and reading about and learning about, and it's allowed me to almost be. I feel like I can be creative on demand now. Not that my ideas are always going to be good, but I can be creative on demand because I feel like I have enough of a bank of operating principles to be able to say, OK, yeah, I could probably come up with a creative idea for this ad. What's the goal, OK? And I have some kind of operating principles to help me come up with that. So I think like the more knowledge you can soak in about, like if you want to if you want to do better, if you want to do better ads, best way to do that is go and pick up a book. Hey, go read Hey Whipple, squeeze this, but then also go and look at become obsessed with looking at the creative of four or five brands that you think are inspirational for you. And then now that you're consuming that stuff all the time, the next time you have the blank slate, you have a little bit of a baseline link back to what I said earlier about role models. Almost everything that's been done has already been done, and so you should go and find a role model. So if you're going to launch your first event this year, go back and see what their first event look like in two thousand and three. Go see that web page. Go in the MIT Wayback Machine and go find that initial copy. You got to start there.

Chris Byers: As we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you want people to think about when it comes to bringing more humanity into B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I don't know if I would use the term humanity into B2B marketing, but for me, it's more just just be it be a real person. There is not B2B Dave versus B2C Dave versus consumer Dave. Like, I'm just Dave. You have to. Understand how Dave makes decisions and is motivated and so focused on studying people. Marketing is how can you be good at marketing if you don't understand how people make decisions? I think that's where you got to focus.

Chris Byers: What do you think people listening can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Dave Gerhardt: I think that there's a lot of stuff going on in the world, and I think that at the end of the day, marketing goal. Especially for for so many of us that are working at what, well-funded SAS companies, I think that it's not make or break, it's not the most important thing happening in the world. And I think that this last year has been an important reset for a lot of people in that sense. And so I'm not saying don't have ambitions and don't go try to hit big goals, but you've got to think about things in the context of what's happening in the world. And sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as marketers. And it's hard, right? If you're working from home, you're on slack, you're on email, you're on Zoom, you're just in this tunnel all day. Get outside. Take a step away. Go for a walk. Go work out. Have a drink of water, go for a hike. Go meditate. You need something that's going to get you out of the vacuum and realize that, yes, this is my job and I want to help my company succeed. And this is important. But however, you've got to be able to be spending time with your family and your kids and being outside and taking care of your health. There's always been this. You see these stories of just burnt out founders or exacts or I tell this one example, but this is pre-pandemic. But I listen to some podcast with the CMO of like a multibillion dollar company. And I think the CMO said, Yeah, the best part of my day is when I face time with my kids on the train ride into work. I'm like, when you face time with your kid, how about just be home? And I just think more people, this is a rant, but I want to just a big thing that I'm passionate about is my, my family and my time and. Being there with them and I'm going to do the best job for the company, and I love marketing goals, but like I tell my team today, you got to prioritize yourself, you have to prioritize yourself, you have to have that mental health space and sanity for yourself. And I think I don't necessarily have a lesson in this rant. I just wanted to put this out into the universe and hopefully someone will say, Oh yeah, it's not the end of the world. And I know that there's probably VCs and whoever out there that don't want to hear it don't want to hear that, Oh, here's a guy who doesn't want to grow. And that's not the truth. I think there's a fourth. This guy, Brad Stolberg is an author, and he did some work. He spoke at our events at Drift back in the day. He always tweets about this formula. Stress plus rest equals growth. And I love that there's going to be time to work, but there's also going to be time to unplug and do your thing. And I get my best ideas for work. When I'm not sitting at the computer, I'll go play golf for four hours or go for a walk, or I'll go work out. And it's like when you're sub, when you're like unconscious mind is not actively working. That's when all the good stuff happens. So you just got to make sure that you take that time to well.

Chris Byers: So as a final question, one of the conversations will often have with people or just a question is how do you view failure and when that plays out in your life, how do you view it? What's the lesson you learn from it? Or how do you think about it?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's a learning. I don't think it's a failure. I don't think it's a failure. I think it's a learning. I think every mistake that I've made at work over the last 10 years has actually made me better because I've already made those mistakes now. So I know better or I should know better or I've made hiring mistakes. But I've had to have made hiring mistakes and hire that person and fire that person or whatever, or try that idea and have it flop like that. That's all. Those are all like learning credits that are now in my bank. And so I can lean on them, I can rely on them. And so they have made me better. And everybody likes failure is relative. If you said, if you create a marketing campaign, it doesn't work. Is that a failure or did you now just learn that this type of campaign didn't work for some particular reason? And now you've eliminated one decision? And so the next time you don't, you have it easier. OK, we know that doesn't work. So we're going to start here. Every failures are learning.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work. Head over to practicallygenius.com Also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Chris Byers: Dave Gerhardt is regarded as one of the leading brand builders in B2B today. An author, a podcast host, and community builder with his DG marketing group of over 2500 members. Before joining Privy, he led marketing at Drift for over four years and helped create one of the fastest growing SAS companies in the world. How has he been able to stand out and make an impact in B2B marketing? That's the story will uncover in this episode. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact our decisions create.

Chris Byers: Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Byers: Let's just start with what's the opportunity today with B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I love giving marketing advice, for sure. However, I think the challenge with that is it's not a it's not a paint by numbers approach. And so even if you hear something that you think is maybe interesting or insightful from us today, there's ultimately so many factors that that go on inside of the company. Your companies, your customers, your price point, the market, the competition. There's so many factors that could be contributing to your success in marketing. And so there's a lot there. Don't take anybody's paint by numbers approach to marketing. However, I do think that one of the biggest misconceptions in B2B is that it has to be so different than consumer marketing B2C, whatever you want to call it. When I think that what's happened now is we're all just we're all just consumers, and the opportunity is as a B2B brand, you can have a direct relationship with your customers. And that's not just for direct to consumer brands, that's for B2B meaning. If you sell financial software, you can go and reach all of your customers online and you can use all of those channels to really build an audience and build an audience of your dream customers. And so I think like one thing that I've been championing for a couple of years now is just, you don't have to do B2B marketing like traditional B2B marketing in order to be successful, just because that's how everyone's always done it. I think the key is to go back and study like how people make decisions and look at where people are spending time. So not where it be to be buyer spending time. Because guess what? I'm a B2B buyer, I'm a CMO, but I'm also a dad. I'm also a husband, I'm also a golfer. And so I'm a consumer. I'm doing all those things in other channels, too. Don't just go look at what Gartner and Forrester and serious decisions and whoever CMO, what what they're talking about, go and study what people are doing. Go study how people are behaving. Not just today, but go back and study like social psychology and direct response advertising and learn the timeless kind of principles of marketing. Those are my favorite things to think about applying to B2B today.

Chris Byers: I think it can easily be thought of as frankly, a little bit boring to, you know, that B2B marketing. We think of big brands like Nike and consumer ads. I'm curious, what are some examples of maybe some brands or things you've seen in the market that you think are good examples of ways people are doing B2B marketing and it just a much better way.

Dave Gerhardt: I always give this example now and I'm mad at myself because they don't have another one. I think Drift has historically done a good job. I think this was a big thing that I was proud of when I was there, which is instead of building a brand about our product marketing and sales technology, we built a brand for marketers. And so everything that we did was focused on how do we build an audience and a community of marketing people? And if we can do that, if we can get them to trust us through our content and our relationships and our community that can give us a moat. And so I think, like the drift marketing strategy was very strong. Because of that, I think Gong Gio and Gong is a great example of a company that's doing that in that they clearly know their audience. They clearly know the persona that they're selling to. They don't just write 500 word clickbait blog posts. They publish in-depth reports about objection handling. They do a good job of leading content first. I think the best marketing strategy today, if you're a B2B brand, is to be perceived as the expert in your niche. And so if you're going and you're selling to salespeople, how can you build a brand around? Hey, we are the number-one brand to follow if you want to get better at sales because that has nothing to do with gangs product that has everything to do with. I'm in sales. I want to follow their Instagram account. I want to follow their LinkedIn account because I want to do better at my job. And if I now create that relationship for that brand, guess who I'm going to buy from? Because most people are not really just buying one product, they're shopping. And so if I'm shopping around when it's time for me to buy product, it can help me. Record sales calls. It manages sales team performance. The first brand I'm going to turn to is the brand that I've been listening to podcast for six months, and I've been always getting interesting stuff from on LinkedIn.

Chris Byers: And I think you've touched on it just a little bit in some of the ways that people think about brand, probably in the wrong way that let's just write some more content that is promoting ourselves. Yeah. What are the things you think brands get wrong?

Dave Gerhardt: So one is they think about themselves first and we're all selfish and. Whether you will admit that publicly or not, it's OK, because if there's a public version of being selfish, but also we're just wired to think for ourselves and defend for ourselves first. And so I see a lot of companies putting out messaging into the world that is very company focused. Whereas no talk, talk about me, come to me, I'll give you I'll give you one example of this. Somebody reached out to me the other day and they said, Hey, have you ever done anything with like an influencer type partnership? I said, No, we would like you to try our software. We'll let you try it for free, and then we'd like you to write about it and tell your followers on LinkedIn as like why in the world what? I want to do that? Why would I do that? It makes no said there's nothing in it for me to do it that way. And so I think that's one small example of that is the thing that most B2B brands get wrong is they don't have a deep understanding of what are the wants and needs and desires of the customer. And so they just lead with their we're the leading cloud based A.I. whatever garbage jargon kind of descriptions, everything starts with a selfish benefit. And so the very first thing is like, what is a selfish benefit of using my product as a customer instead of just generating leads or generating revenue? You might get promoted in your job. You might progress your career faster. You might be seen as a leader and an expert in your industry. You might get more credibility and trust inside of the company, right? Those are all like fundamental human desires that a lot of companies don't try to lead with. The other thing is, I see a lot of creative that isn't very creative in that. If you scroll through LinkedIn and you just see ads, they all look the same. They all look like ads. And I think a lot of times we don't look at the context of the channel that we're trying to create content in. And so if you're advertising on LinkedIn, the very first thing that I would be doing is going and looking at what is all the other creative and content. What is that that's already being advertised on LinkedIn? What does that look like? Because so often all of us are just scrolling aimlessly through our feeds. I want mine to stand out. I want mine to be the opposite. I want mine to interrupt the pattern of you scrolling, and that doesn't mean that I have to do it in a click baity, annoying, in-your-face kind of way. It means that I need to understand the context of what's happening that channel, because the best product is not always going to win. Oftentimes, when you're trying to promote your stuff on social media or content or whatever, you have to actually be interesting. And so to do that, you've got to look at what's happening. I see a lot of basically like kind of stock image looking creative where I would just take an iPhone video with some text on it on LinkedIn as an ad would probably perform much better than the highly sanitized looking banner.

Chris Byers: So my guess is in the marketing group that you have 2500 plus people, they're thinking about problems like this and challenges. What are the things that are top of mind for them that they're thinking about these days?

Dave Gerhardt: I think there's been a huge shift to marketers focusing on revenue first. I'm seeing a lot of marketers who it's awesome because they're really focused on marketing as a team, as responsible for delivering revenue, not marketing as a team that's responsible for getting us branded frisbees and pens and T-shirts and swag for the event. Marketing is like the key driver of revenue in the company. And with that, also seeing CEOs thinking about marketing from that perspective, more CEOs wanting to invest in marketing, more CEOs wanting to take chances and do more interesting and creative things in marketing to serve those revenue goals.

Chris Byers: Talked a little bit about this how to make inroads with your customers. It's really taking their needs and wants and desires into play. But I think most marketing people arrive to their job. And then even these days, to your point, they're going to get an MQ l goal or a lead goal or a follower goal. So how do I like skip through that and get started saying OK, but I need to connect with people? What do you think those first steps are?

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, I think the first step is to listen to the customers. And unless you're joining a company where you have no customers, most times you're going in and you're taking a job or you're working on a new initiative, and you have to remember that everything like we do a lot of things in marketing, but the whole point is to get customers. And so you have to have your finger on the pulse of what customers are talking about, what they're thinking about and what's amazing is like that used to be, Oh hey, Sarah, can I join a couple of your sales calls next week? OK? And I got to go sit at Sarah's desk with her or dial into a Zoom call. Hey, Dave, from the marketing teams on, and that's fine. But also what's really cool now is you can use a product like Gong and there's even just listening to like Zoom recordings. That stuff is so easily available. When I joined Privy, the very first thing that I did was I got the gong app on my phone and literally for two weeks, I took any time that I would listen to an audio book or podcast instead or work out what, like, why I was working on. I was literally listening to customer calls, and it was amazing because in the course of two weeks, I probably listen to 40 50 customer calls and on my own schedule, on my own time, on my phone and through that you start to be able to hear the words customers are using start to be able to do some pattern matching. And by the way, if you ever listen to customer calls, you know that every customer is different. Yes. But let's say of those 50 calls, 80 percent of the questions are going to be the same. And ultimately, the best thing you can do as a marketer is get inside of the head of your customer. I think social media is great because you can just passively see what people are talking about. But pairing that with listening to sales calls and having a close relationship with the sales team and support team, that stuff really goes a long way for understanding your customer.

Chris Byers: I love that you mentioned pattern recognition would love for you to talk just a little bit more about that. Do you think that's important and thinking about connecting with customers?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's important with knowing what to create in order to connect with customers, because like connecting with customers in order to connect with a customer, you have to create something, whether that's you're sending an email or you making a video or you're doing a podcast like it's got to be something there. And so how can you know what to create? You have to be able to like, have, I think one of the underrated skills that doesn't get talked about enough in marketing is having taste and not taste for designing your apartment, but like taste for understanding what things might be interesting to customers. And so like when you go and listen to 10, 20, 30, 40 calls, the same things start to come up over and over and so you can start to think about. Everyone has this one objection about they think it's too expensive. OK. So should we just do nothing about that? Should we complain to the product team and change the pricing? Or should I think about it? Huh? How can I as a marker? What can I do to help with that objection? Here's an idea. What if we had a page on our website that was perfect com slash proof? And it was all case studies and testimonials, and there was an ROI calculator on there and we could have people, you know, fill that out as part of the process. OK, cool. So now let's say you solve that problem, and two months later, you're hearing less questions come up about that objection. That's an amazing use of marketing.

Chris Byers: Tell us a little bit about GMG. Why it's needed. What are you trying to solve in the world?

Dave Gerhardt: What happened was I started my own private podcast through Patreon when I left drift and that thing grew so fast. In a couple of months, it was five hundred members and I relearned the most important lesson in marketing, which is, man, if you have an audience, the value of learning through that audience is so powerful and so through, let's say, the first 500 paying members of my patron. I learned that yes, some people, some crazy people out there want to hear my rants and ravings about marketing. But most of the people in here, wow, they're asking questions about hiring and campaign planning and presenting to the board and managing up. And how do you hire product marketing person? What are good interview questions for an intern? And it was through that community that that that Patreon group that I was like, Whoa, there's something bigger in here. And so that ended up launching a community which is on Facebook and then through that community on Facebook continued discussion about that type of stuff, and it continued to grow. Now today it's 2500 members, and I just launched something called GMG University, which is I wanted to have one library where you can go as a marketer and type in presenting to the board and you'll find two videos and a template, for example. And you know, maybe you can go through that stuff before your next board meeting. And so the need was I didn't know it was there, but it was through the audience. I learned that there was this hunger for marketing content. I knew it because I the only reason I was able to launch my Patreon was because of LinkedIn. There was enough people who were interested in my stuff and comments via LinkedIn and Twitter that that's how I got my first couple hundred members on Patreon. But then it was through that group that you learn, Wow, there's something bigger here people want. They literally want a college education. They want Netflix for marketing. They want masterclass. Com for marketing content. It's marketing. I like talking about marketing. I like doing stuff for marketing. I like creating content. So that kind of led to piecing this thing together, and it's just continued to grow from there. People have this hunger to invest in them in themselves. And yeah, sure, I'll spend one hundred bucks a year or two hundred bucks a year, and most people expand it to their company anyway, learning how to get better at my job. And I think it's become a pretty cool thing. A single thing that I learned in school, high school and college. That's not to knock either of those places, but it hasn't helped me in my career in marketing. I came up with this tagline for GMG, which I think is so true, which is no one goes to school for B2B marketing, and I've seen that the most valuable things for me. As a first time marketing leader, let's say a drift was like getting outside of the four walls of my company, like meeting the director of marketing at Marketo, at lunch at Saaster, picking her brain and being like, Wow, I just learned so much. I just learned so much internal things like, here's how Marketo does it. And I felt that myself and I got addicted to like watching videos and listening to podcasts. And so I you worked at an amazing company, but I also educated myself and I invested in myself. And I think it's one way of, I don't know, I wanted to create this content and put it back out in the world to help other people get better at their jobs in marketing. Because I think so much of what we do in B2B marketing, like you get caught up in such meaningless stuff, the perfect template for planning your campaigns are creating your budget or like what the best practice framework is. And it's so much of that stuff should just be decisions that should be eliminated because it's like here, just use this like there's 15 different ways you could do positioning, but here's this one that I really like. It gets the job done and it's going to get you what you need, and you should not be spending five hours out of your week deciding I want positioning template to use. You should freaking pick up Positioning tab and use it and be getting feedback already.

Chris Byers: What advice do you have? For people who you may want to use their experience and expertize to teach and or equip, whether online or in a college classroom, what did you learn about how to get that message across?

Dave Gerhardt: For me, it's been like learning about something where there's value back to me. I liked copywriting. I liked marketing. And so by being by focusing on like getting better at the specific example from drifters like David pushed me to study copywriting and direct response advertising because there's a bunch of natural things you already do. If you learn these, you'll be able to unlock. So what that did was he showed me like, Hey, don't try to become this T-shaped marketer. Don't worry about trying to study SAS metrics and conversion rate optimization and SEO and marketing automation. Just focus on copywriting. And so the thing that changed for me with learning was like learning with the I still don't enjoy reading. It's not like what I sit down to do to just pass an hour. But I read every day because I read to learn about something specific. And so I think if you want to become a marketing leader or you want to become a video producer or you want to become a product marketing leader, like it's way better to zone in on that particular topic and then go deep on that topic as opposed to try to pick from everything. And I think that really helped, which was like, Hey, you don't have to go and try to be great at all. These things pick out the one thing. I think the other thing is, look for you've got to find a role model or two. For example, if I wanted to become great at product marketing, I wouldn't study every product marketer I would go and find like, who's one or two like amazing product marketing leaders that are maybe five years ahead of me, literally go find their LinkedIn profile and try to go and follow and see everything that they've done and find that journey. Because, like history, just histories is the best like lesson. Like even now, like in 2020, I started reading a lot of history books because I wanted to just get some context for what was happening in the world and everything has already happened. That's happening right now in some form or another. And that's what makes history so powerful. And I think the same is true for trying to understand your journey. So if you're a marketing manager, you want to become CMO, go and find one or two CMO that you think might work for a company that you like or have done some things in your career that you want to do and just focus on studying the moves of those one or two people as opposed to like everyone in that industry. So the same way you're going to focus on one or two core strengths go and focus on one or two core people. And also one or two core resources. I used to get paralyzed by that to keep up with everything. I got to read every marketing blog. If I'm going to know everything and nope, I don't need, I don't need to do that will take forever to try to keep up, and you'll never make any progress. So instead, I was like, You know what? I'm just going to read Saaster content. OK, great. And I think like, you just got to pick one or two kind of channels and producers to go deep on.

Chris Byers: Also talking just about that idea of you talk about progress and keep the bit of the keeping up with the Joneses. Like the moment you do something great, the bad news is you get to do something greater next. How do you manage that kind of balance of being creative and innovative? But I don't know. You can't always be on to the next thing. You have to have some, some balance there.

Dave Gerhardt: Part of it is like, welcome to the job in marketing, and that is what it is, which is you just did something ridiculous. Great. You've just reset the bar for what we need from you. And that is what it is. You just got to accept that as part of the job, which is if you do great things, people are just going to continue to want more. If you hit big goals, people are going to continue to want bigger goals. That's kind of part of the growth, the growth climbing.

Chris Byers: I love it. I know I've been thinking a lot about, especially coming out of tough year last year. There is this kind of moment of you do need to, I don't know, just find a little bit of balance. There's always going to be something new. There's always going to be something bigger. But we also need to find some space to step back and just observe like what's happening in the world.

Dave Gerhardt: This is why you need goals. Goals should frame what you're going to focus in what you're going to spend your time on. And I always try to push back on, and I'm the number one culprit of suggesting new ideas. When we don't, we don't. We don't need them and being a distraction for the team. I love those discussions, like with the team that me, for example, I might suggest something. And because we have a very clear goal setting process, they would say, Yeah, this is a cool idea, Dave. But is this more important than these three things that we're working on right now, which we've declared are the most important things that we're working on because they serve X, Y and Z goal? And I'm like, No, you're right. OK, cool. It's my job to suggest new ideas and push the team. But if you have clear goals and guardrails and a lot of my marketing teams don't have that and I've fallen in that trap before, and it's a mistake, which is you've got to have some type of operating principle. So here are the goals for our team here. The objectives that we set like basically, how do we think we're going to achieve those goals? And this is the thing that we're going to work on. Those things should be priority number one. If we're good in those areas and or have bonus time to go and do them, then that's when we should go explore the new things. But I think you need that scoreboard to fall back on. Otherwise you're just like, it's going to be it's going to be endless.

Chris Byers: When you're striving, you're not hitting the goal. What do you do to like, make sure you don't hit that moment? Burnout.

Dave Gerhardt: It's tough nobody likes missing goals, but like at the end, I think first it's you're you're not going to hit the goal every single week, every single month, every single quarter, every single year. And a lot of times marketing is not the sole reason why you're not. Why you're not hitting the goal, sometimes it is right, but I think it's it's your job in marketing to not only hit the goal, but to understand why you are not hitting the goal. And so if I'm not, if I'm not hitting our goals. Sometimes that's OK, it's a bummer, but I want to make sure that we can articulate why and have actions and plans for how we're going to fix that or what we might do, or if there's things we don't know the answer to. How can we know those things early on enough where we can bring them up to the CEO or the chief product officer, whoever and have productive conversations with other people? Ultimately, the best marketing is an amazing product, and I'm the biggest advocate for marketing. I'm not just saying you can just have a good product and exists, but like it's much easier to do marketing at Zoom than it is for Dave's water bottle store. And so I think you got to be able to, like, have conversations about your goals and marketing and say, Hey, where hey SEO, where we're going to miss our goal this quarter? Here's why. Here's what we're going to do about it. Here's two or three areas that we might want to have discussion about what we might need from other teams or things that we're seeing or churn is high in this area. So it's it's very rarely on you if it is a very specific marketing thing that to me, this can be some of the fun part of the job. Yeah, it's frustrating. You're not going to win every single time you go play mini golf, you're not going to make a hole in one every single time. So I think that's delusional that if you're going to be upset every time you miss a goal, it's OK to be competitive, but if you're going to be burnt out. But I think again, it goes so far back to setting clear goals and expectations because if you miss your goals and the team is burnt out and working like crazy, that to me says that you're most likely working on the wrong stuff. And so how do you improve the feedback loop with the team in your one on ones with campaign planning and whatever to like, at least have a good feeling of work on the right stuff? If I think that we're working on the right stuff and we miss, but we miss goals. That's OK. I'd rather miss that way than we're working on the wrong stuff and we're missing goals. That's where it starts to like to get into troublesome territory.

Chris Byers: I really like that idea of talking about the why and understanding the why of why you are or not hitting goals as CEO. I love that comment you made. I really don't mind when we the missed goal at times, especially and maybe only if if I know what, because otherwise I don't know where to jump in and help. I don't know where to give you some extra funds. I don't know where to redirect.

Dave Gerhardt: It could be not. It could be things not related to marketing. It could be like the product market fit has changed. A new competitor has come into the space. There isn't a need, there's lots of other things. And ultimately marketing is also just problem solving, and it's a channel to generate revenue for the company. And if that channel is not working, then you just go and run the five whys on it and figure out figure out why and then what are the next steps. And I think it's one thing to miss a goal and explain why that's OK. The best scenario is you miss a goal, you explain why and the team is presenting, and here's the four things that we're going to do about it. OK, great. At least feel like we're in control. And then if it goes in other weeks and months and quarters after that and you're still not making progress, and that's when you look, do we have the right team or do we have the right marketing strategy? Do we have the right people?

Chris Byers: Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Dave isn't afraid to think outside the box when it comes to B2B marketing. So if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to accomplish more with their marketing efforts?

Dave Gerhardt: I think an advantage that I am realizing now that I've created for myself is like my obsession and interest in marketing has been advantageous to my creativity because I'm just consuming so much content, whether that's books, podcasts, videos, seeing ads, watching talks. And that's the stuff that I'm interesting and reading about and learning about, and it's allowed me to almost be. I feel like I can be creative on demand now. Not that my ideas are always going to be good, but I can be creative on demand because I feel like I have enough of a bank of operating principles to be able to say, OK, yeah, I could probably come up with a creative idea for this ad. What's the goal, OK? And I have some kind of operating principles to help me come up with that. So I think like the more knowledge you can soak in about, like if you want to if you want to do better, if you want to do better ads, best way to do that is go and pick up a book. Hey, go read Hey Whipple, squeeze this, but then also go and look at become obsessed with looking at the creative of four or five brands that you think are inspirational for you. And then now that you're consuming that stuff all the time, the next time you have the blank slate, you have a little bit of a baseline link back to what I said earlier about role models. Almost everything that's been done has already been done, and so you should go and find a role model. So if you're going to launch your first event this year, go back and see what their first event look like in two thousand and three. Go see that web page. Go in the MIT Wayback Machine and go find that initial copy. You got to start there.

Chris Byers: As we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you want people to think about when it comes to bringing more humanity into B2B marketing?

Dave Gerhardt: I don't know if I would use the term humanity into B2B marketing, but for me, it's more just just be it be a real person. There is not B2B Dave versus B2C Dave versus consumer Dave. Like, I'm just Dave. You have to. Understand how Dave makes decisions and is motivated and so focused on studying people. Marketing is how can you be good at marketing if you don't understand how people make decisions? I think that's where you got to focus.

Chris Byers: What do you think people listening can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Dave Gerhardt: I think that there's a lot of stuff going on in the world, and I think that at the end of the day, marketing goal. Especially for for so many of us that are working at what, well-funded SAS companies, I think that it's not make or break, it's not the most important thing happening in the world. And I think that this last year has been an important reset for a lot of people in that sense. And so I'm not saying don't have ambitions and don't go try to hit big goals, but you've got to think about things in the context of what's happening in the world. And sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as marketers. And it's hard, right? If you're working from home, you're on slack, you're on email, you're on Zoom, you're just in this tunnel all day. Get outside. Take a step away. Go for a walk. Go work out. Have a drink of water, go for a hike. Go meditate. You need something that's going to get you out of the vacuum and realize that, yes, this is my job and I want to help my company succeed. And this is important. But however, you've got to be able to be spending time with your family and your kids and being outside and taking care of your health. There's always been this. You see these stories of just burnt out founders or exacts or I tell this one example, but this is pre-pandemic. But I listen to some podcast with the CMO of like a multibillion dollar company. And I think the CMO said, Yeah, the best part of my day is when I face time with my kids on the train ride into work. I'm like, when you face time with your kid, how about just be home? And I just think more people, this is a rant, but I want to just a big thing that I'm passionate about is my, my family and my time and. Being there with them and I'm going to do the best job for the company, and I love marketing goals, but like I tell my team today, you got to prioritize yourself, you have to prioritize yourself, you have to have that mental health space and sanity for yourself. And I think I don't necessarily have a lesson in this rant. I just wanted to put this out into the universe and hopefully someone will say, Oh yeah, it's not the end of the world. And I know that there's probably VCs and whoever out there that don't want to hear it don't want to hear that, Oh, here's a guy who doesn't want to grow. And that's not the truth. I think there's a fourth. This guy, Brad Stolberg is an author, and he did some work. He spoke at our events at Drift back in the day. He always tweets about this formula. Stress plus rest equals growth. And I love that there's going to be time to work, but there's also going to be time to unplug and do your thing. And I get my best ideas for work. When I'm not sitting at the computer, I'll go play golf for four hours or go for a walk, or I'll go work out. And it's like when you're sub, when you're like unconscious mind is not actively working. That's when all the good stuff happens. So you just got to make sure that you take that time to well.

Chris Byers: So as a final question, one of the conversations will often have with people or just a question is how do you view failure and when that plays out in your life, how do you view it? What's the lesson you learn from it? Or how do you think about it?

Dave Gerhardt: I think it's a learning. I don't think it's a failure. I don't think it's a failure. I think it's a learning. I think every mistake that I've made at work over the last 10 years has actually made me better because I've already made those mistakes now. So I know better or I should know better or I've made hiring mistakes. But I've had to have made hiring mistakes and hire that person and fire that person or whatever, or try that idea and have it flop like that. That's all. Those are all like learning credits that are now in my bank. And so I can lean on them, I can rely on them. And so they have made me better. And everybody likes failure is relative. If you said, if you create a marketing campaign, it doesn't work. Is that a failure or did you now just learn that this type of campaign didn't work for some particular reason? And now you've eliminated one decision? And so the next time you don't, you have it easier. OK, we know that doesn't work. So we're going to start here. Every failures are learning.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work. Head over to practicallygenius.com Also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Ripple Effect.

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Chris is on a mission to turn people into great leaders. He's passionate about helping problem solvers see more value in the work they do every day.