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Elevate Your Go-to-Market Strategy: Thought Leadership and Beyond

June 28, 2024 Gary, Andy & Tiana Season 3 Episode 2
Elevate Your Go-to-Market Strategy: Thought Leadership and Beyond
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Elevate Your Go-to-Market Strategy: Thought Leadership and Beyond
Jun 28, 2024 Season 3 Episode 2
Gary, Andy & Tiana

In this episode, you're promised deep insights into decoding customer behavior and understanding the true jobs your products are hired to do. We tackle the pitfalls of random acts of marketing and emphasize the critical need for a cohesive strategy that helps revenue leaders understand the complex landscape of the lower middle market. Traditional marketing tactics are losing steam, and we break down why. Crack the code on why it's essential to go beyond surface-level efforts and generate meaningful, informed content that resonates with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Andrei Zinkevich's Post on LI

Alex James' Post on LI 
Jonathan Spier's Post on LI

gtmPRO

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, you're promised deep insights into decoding customer behavior and understanding the true jobs your products are hired to do. We tackle the pitfalls of random acts of marketing and emphasize the critical need for a cohesive strategy that helps revenue leaders understand the complex landscape of the lower middle market. Traditional marketing tactics are losing steam, and we break down why. Crack the code on why it's essential to go beyond surface-level efforts and generate meaningful, informed content that resonates with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Andrei Zinkevich's Post on LI

Alex James' Post on LI 
Jonathan Spier's Post on LI

gtmPRO

Andy:

And the reason is you need to get a lot more reps repetitions, that is, not sales reps to really understand who they are, what they're thinking, why they're. Are you having that same conversation? Have you had that conversation a hundred times? At that point you've really started to hone in on that position and to say you know what? This is what the customer typically looks like, this is what makes them tick, and when I say this, they get it. I've conveyed that perspective. They understand why this product would be meaningful for them in their business. And then you can think about rinsing and repeating.

Gary:

Welcome to the GTM Pro Podcast, your essential audio resource for mastering go-to-market discussions in the boardroom. Here we share insights for revenue leaders at B2B software and services companies, especially those with less than $50 million in revenue. Why? Because the challenges faced by companies of this size are unique. They are too big to be small and too small to be big. This dynamic pushes revenue leaders into executive leadership without a lot of help or support. We are here to provide that support.

Gary:

Your journey to boardroom excellence starts now. Okay, welcome back. First of all, we're continuing on a theme regarding what we're seeing in real time on the ground in the trenches and go to market in the lower middle market A continuation of that discussion. So, if you haven't already done so, check out gtmproco, go to the last couple of podcasts and also the shorts, and you'll have some great context on how these pieces are coming together.

Gary:

The two critical components that we see over and over and over and over again are the need to get deep, deep insights around, not just quote surface level problems, but the entire job map, the jobs to be done associated with customers and the situations in which they're trying to solve. Those that's identified, then put to work through a system and then monitor its performance across the system. So that capability. So let's talk about that in practice. Andy, you actually came across a couple of posts here recently that kind of hit on that, but I think the challenge is that it is at such a strategic level it's hard to know where to start. Where do I put this to practice? Can you describe this for us a little bit?

Andy:

Yeah, so the first post is from Andre Zinkovich from fullfunnelio, and he does a great job, first of all, starting with a really core problem that we see, which is just the stuff the crap, if you will that he sees B2B companies often doing from a content perspective, right, the random acts of marketing.

Andy:

Random acts of marketing, that's really what it is. But he talks about paid ads. He talks about automated emails, gated e-books, product pitching, webinars, low quality blog All this stuff we would absolutely complain about that really are exponentially losing efficacy out in the world, and that is, I mean, it's not even anecdotal anymore. That is absolutely happening, and I think any CMO in the lower middle market B2B SaaS world is going to absolutely corroborate that. So he says, well, what do you do? Okay, he frames up a GTM strategy for B2B companies. He talks about goals, target segments, icp hallelujah, right Buying process, the full funnel marketing plan, really thinking about it like we would from a framework, Really really thinking about it, you know, like we would from a framework. And what really struck me, though, was the missing piece and it's not trivial, right which is how do you inform that, though we always hear about? Well, when you're doing outbound, you know, add value, give something of value, and it, and it continues to be a theme and we continue to harp on this because that, that, what you say, what you have to say, um, and that content is it has to be meaningful, it has to be informed, it has to be based on the, the, the problem that, based on the, the, the problem that that your icp potential buyer has, it has to be based on that, and it's just a missing piece. And so, lo and behold, I happen upon another post, um, which is really cool, from alex james. The post itself is really neat and he titles it the death of the copywriter, and it's another angle of that. It's actually really the missing piece of the first framework, if you will, which is basically talking about all the stuff that you know, a B2B copywriter has ever done and really thinking about it through the lens of having been an agency and companies relying on agencies for this, which I've talked about before, and just saying, okay, I want to say these things and I want to, you know, be a thought leader, but you can't do that through an agency, like it's got to be. It's got to be based on, you know, the core of the company. The company is the thought leader, and how do you extract that out? So he does a really good job of kind of framing.

Andy:

That mentioned some of our favorite people right within that article, um, but I think it's interesting because we're seeing it. We're seeing this on the ground, we're seeing this really happening in real time that people are realizing that you can't just do the old business as usual from a copywriting, a blog post perspective and expect somehow that to manifest itself in interested parties for your product. There is a disconnect there, but there's a lot in there too. There's a lot to know about your customers, about their problems, about their worries, about their daily lives, about the jobs that they perform every day, about their company's processes, about their customers and so on, and that's really coming to a head. I think it's a make or break time now.

Gary:

Yeah, it is interesting, as you were saying that, andy, I was thinking back to I'm trying to think of the time period here. I guess it would have been 21, 22 maybe, where you name, like, chris Walker as an example. Right, he's been on the whole dark social theme for quite some time and continues to stay on that with Refined Labs and is now in the signals-based revenue GTM. What have you? Was that? B2b buyers, the stuff that we have relied on for a decade, the stuff that Andre points out here paid ads, automated email, linkedin and outreach, gated eBooks, product pitching, webinars, low quality blog posts, blah, blah, blah. It's just the stuff that we did, and in so many ways, and that's the marketing side of it.

Gary:

But even if you think about sales right, either the sales, outreach or prospecting, or even the process, there has become this formula for how we have done it. Every company is feeling like this either is not working as well as it used to or, in many cases, flat out doesn't work, but they're having a really hard time trying to figure out what to do about it. And that comes back to this, the strategy thing, right, which is we're we're firing left and right, but we're not really sure where we're aiming and we're not even sure if we're using the right ammunition because we haven't done this work. And when you start saying things like ICP and buyer dynamics and insights and things like that, go to any CEO in the lower middle market and nine times out of 10, they'll say, yeah, we got that, we do that. Then if you would go and talk to their customers or their prospects, more importantly, or the people in the space or even the team on the ground doing the work, it'd be like you would get different answers about what ICP is.

Gary:

Ask five people in an organization. You get five different answers about what ICP is. Ask five people in an organization. You get five different answers and not different like at the margin, but wildly different about where we think we need to be and what we actually serve and who we serve best. And then think about the messaging implications there. So I think that's the challenge we find ourselves in is that we're in the midst of another transformation and it isn't clear to many organizations what that new thing looks like and we've started to see pieces of it in, like community led growth and ecosystem growth and, you know, certainly product led growth and all of these things dark, social. We have to go where the buyer is. But to your point, andy, if I go where the buyer is and I don't know what to say and I don't know what value actually means to them, I'm back to random acts of marketing. I'm just doing stuff that I think I should be doing in in the absence of not knowing what to do.

Andy:

Same thing with selling so this alex james I mean he, he, he, this this slide 25 of his beautiful 29 uh slide post says so copywriters, it's time to be less insisting and more assisting. And so this is this is kind of what we've seen, and there's a few manifestations that we've seen in surprisingly big companies Right, stop insisting, they already have their ICP locked in. Right, so that's in through his lens. This is a copywriter that's been hired by this company that's saying, well, you need to have your ICP right, like they don't a lot of times. To your point, gary, right, stop insisting, they already have their positioning honed. Oh, my gosh, right, like that's.

Andy:

How often have we seen like that, like it's actually rare to have really honed in positioning and then stop insisting they already have their perspective defined. So in our case, if we look at ourselves, we say, well, our perspective is through the lens of a lower middle market, typically privately backed company that sells, you know, saas software and this is their world, that's their perspective. But, like in this case, it's both the perspective of the company and knowing their customers right. So ICP to me is becoming more blurred with that positioning, with the voice of the customer, like those are so inextricably intertwined.

Gary:

Mm, hmm.

Andy:

That voice of the customer is you're like, why your customers have success with you, have gotten to a moment of value with working with you, whether it's purely through your product, but typically it's through your product and you as an entity. You've shown them the light. Somehow. It's not just the product, right, if you're good at projecting that, that is your position, and so many times this is the irony here too, right, we've outsourced all of that to an agency or we've thrown it over the fence to our sales team. The final post I was just thinking about here was this Jonathan Speer, ceo of Rev right, and he talks about a $3 million funded VC. He doesn't talk about their revenue, but he talks about the company having signed 10 customers, the founders doing great, and they want to hire a sales team.

Andy:

Right, and, and he says time out, which we often do too, right, and the reason is you need to get a lot more reps repetitions, that is not sales to to really understand who they are, what they're thinking. Are you having that same conversation? Have you had that conversation a hundred times? At that point, you've really started to hone in on that position and to say you know what this is, what the customer typically looks like. This is what makes them tick, and when I say this they get it. I've conveyed that perspective. They understand why this product would be meaningful for them in their business, and then you can think about rinsing and repeating. If you hire that salesperson too soon, you're kind of throwing a half-baked thing over the fence to them and then they're coming up with their own story and there's a big difference there.

Gary:

Yeah, agreed, and I think that we talked about this earlier before we started recording is that a lot of companies like the framework that Andre lays out, we would completely agree. I mean it's buyer led growth, market segmentation, icp, customer journey positioning, value, prop, marketing, messaging, then the full funnel marketing plan, then the customer success and advocacy right, that's the full revenue cycle and that's what they call themselves full funnel. Well, our perspective, of course, is customer and market segmentation jobs to be done, buyer dynamics very similar all up there in terms of journey positioning, pricing and packaging is a really important component of that, because that's obviously going to have a huge implication. Then all the revenue engine stuff like who are the people, process tech, what are we saying, what's the content distribution plan and how we're going to measure all this. The challenge is that, even if companies intuitively get that and that's their desire to move in that direction, we have to change the transmission and the car that's already moving down the road. We can't just like, okay, stop everything we're doing and let's go do that work, literally do nothing for six months so we can figure this out and then wind it all back up again, like we need to feed that into an engine that's already working, or at least moving, and I think that's where a lot of organizations get hung up. And so the the like we still need, we still need webinars, we still need paid ads, we still need email sequences, we still need newsletters, we still need customer communication, we still need discovery calls and selling and closing deals. But I think that's and Andy, you said this earlier which is jumping into the middle of it and then working your way out from there, and it's almost like and this is probably the hardest point for organizations of this size is that there is a very real decision that needs to be made, which is, in many cases, a zero sum game.

Gary:

In order to invest in something, you have to stop investing in something else. They're not in a position to quote, invest, they're not getting new capital, they don't have cash sitting on the sidelines, they're maxed out, trying to hit whatever financial targets they might have. Typically, it's today around cashflow break-even or cashflow profitability or EBITDA positive or whatever, while still maintaining revenue growth. And so that's where the rubber hits the road, which is, yes, we need to in order to get the insights that we need. That can't be on the side of somebody's desk. It has to be a number one priority of a person. Who is that person going to be? And, more importantly, if that person is doing work today or we need to hire a new person, or whatever, what are we going to stop doing to fund that? And that's always where, and that's where you, the assessment of what is it we're doing today? Where are the? If we look at the system, which pieces of it do we have the opportunity to drive impact in the near term and move us to where we want to be in the long term the near term and move us to where we want to be in the long term, and let's focus on those things and stuff that doesn't make that cut.

Gary:

We have to just stop doing so that we can make the investments that we need to make. I think that is the crux of this, for, for companies of this size, is discerning what that is. And it is scary because when you're in an environment, when you're doing a bunch of random acts of stuff, you don't actually know what's working or not working, and so you're terrified to make a decision to do something that, oh crap. But what if it's working? But none of these are irreversible decisions, right, none of these are irreversible. This isn't a company ending situation, and so, and it's kind of like, well, so what's the alternative? Continue to do what you're doing, which you know it's not working.

Andy:

Yeah, I mean you think about the examples of paid.

Gary:

We're outbound, those in front of the center, almost all the time.

Tiana:

I just saw like sorry, I'm a fan, but I saw a post from tito that said like they sent all fans. Yeah, yeah, we are. They sent him uh like someone sent him like of course, uh like a mass spam email that said like hey, tito, I know you do outbound, I can do outbound for you. Like how can I help you do out?

Gary:

it's like going to tom brady and saying, hey, I know you're a quarterback, but yeah, I can help you, I can help you be a quarterback.

Tiana:

So he was like so you're outbounding me, telling me you can help me outbound, when my company is dedicated to do outbound. Like, how does that? Like he knows this is not even a real person, right? Like this is probably someone that just bought the domain and sent 3,000 to 6,000 emails that day and just wouldn't happen to land on his inbox. But, like, the proof of it not working is like have you ever gotten one of those? Did you pay attention to them?

Andy:

Yeah, well, it's so broad and so badly targeted, right, just out, like the notion of I can help you do outbound. What might have resonated is, and I don't know, you know, tito doesn't have a lot of weak spots let's just say but let's say there was this thing, this piece of content that somebody that Tito had sent out, that somebody identified there was. You know, there was more that he could have said on this particular topic, that there's this other angle and so on. And so they went in and they used what they knew about, whatever that specific thing was. Then they reached out to Tito and said hey, did you know? When you talk about this thing, there's this other piece and we do this other piece and we can help you round that out, whatever. That is kind of a crappy example, but my point there is, if they were really specific about something, they saw specifically around what he'd done, he might have been like you know what I do?

Tiana:

I do have a blind spot there and totally different, right, right for some reason, people don't want to do the work they just people prefer to do like volume before like quality. They don't. I, for some reason, like a lot of people, just see more value in hitting Like I don't know. This is what goes on in my mind when I think about this is that they probably say, oh, we send 6 000 emails, maybe 100 will care, instead of saying, hey, let's send like a hundred well done, like we've done the work, we've done our homework. We know what they think and we know they would be good for us. So they send a hundred and maybe maybe ten percent of those hit, but it's better than sending 6,000 and none of them hitting and people starting to recognize you as a spammer.

Gary:

Yeah, I think to that point I think Andy has said this before is that email is not free, and I think this is the challenge that we are so hardwired for, this predictable revenue model where, theoretically, leads were infinite and we just needed more of it. And every time we send out a crappy message with a crappy value add or CTA or what have you, we have degraded. Trying to make up a word there, we have degraded our brand and our company and our person in the eyes of the reader. We have informed them, we have trained them on what they're going to receive from us. So you're right, yes, we could go out and send 6,000 messages and we get 100. Fantastic, great. Well, as I always say, this year's target is next year's baseline. So we keep doing that. And the next time we send out 6,000 messages, we get 50. Then, the next time we send out 6,000 messages, we get 20. The next time we send 6,000 messages, we get none.

Andy:

It's called direct response fatigue. That's literally what's happened.

Gary:

And so that to your point about the hard work. The other thing that is hard about the hard work is that it is a compounding game. It isn't. We're going to send a message it's going to be so well crafted and we're going to get a response right. We are in the process of molding and changing your perspective and meeting you where you are and we can't control the timing, and so it is the consistency.

Gary:

No-transcript comments. I was getting invited certain to to conversations that I wasn't invited to before, what have you? But you can start to feel the mo, you just can't see it and then it hits. Well, this is very, very similar, right, and that is why we're empathetic to the fact that, yes, you can't just stop what you're doing today, go out and spend the time and energy and effort to create this whole new, well-informed system and then pick it up again.

Gary:

You have to run the system you're in, but do it with intention towards where you need to be, and that means that you're going to have to find a way to get insights on what the customer and the prospects are actually worried about, care about at a very deep and nuanced level, which means you're going to have to understand your ICP, but you're going to have to start investing in that level, which means you're going to have to understand your ICP, but you're going to have to start investing in that. And, andy, you said this earlier, it doesn't have to be customer interviews today. It can be use what you have recorded calls, onboarding, conversations, inserting, changing the discussion topic slightly, because we get so focused on what we want to say versus what they need to hear. We start asking questions differently in discovery calls, in onboarding calls, in QBRs, we actually get information about what's important to them, versus us trying to sell them on that. They're getting value and should stay with us.

Andy:

Right, it's encouraging everyone to, on the margin, try to understand that better. So it's not necessarily a revolution, but it can be an evolution in that, on the margin. If what you send out in a week is slightly more informed about what pain your buyer has, that's better than not having done that. And what's surprising is and I, on a very practical basis, have found out that even when a discovery call or a customer interview because oftentimes they're interviewed for things like webinars or so on right, that pain is discussed, if not directly, it's mentioned by that customer, it's mentioned by that prospect, it's inherent in there and that can be teased out. And there are very practical, in a very practical sense, there are prompts with which to do that.

Andy:

With chat, GPT, for example and this is a thing we're experimenting with all the time you can extract that sort of thing out. And the point there is not like there's this magic formula, but on the margin, is that better informed to have that conversation with that customer, to do that outreach, to not just ask for a demo? You want to sign up for a demo On the margin, is it better to make that even a secondary CTA and have something more informed to say up front about their lives, about what makes them tick. That's all we're saying here is you can change on that front today and start informing that, whatever motion it is on the margin slightly better.

Gary:

Yep, yeah, and.

Gary:

I think, the other, sorry, the other. The other important aspect of that, then too, is there. There is that piece of it, but then there is also in parallel, you know, getting smarter about the data that you can access to activate that and that definitely requires a set of skills. But again, it is likely that an organization has someone on the team and they may be in product, they may be in demand gen, they may be a salesperson, a BDR, revops, but there's probably someone who has the chops to do this. We just need to have the willingness to redeploy them towards that effort so that they can do that. And then, related to that, the other side of it is we've said this last week is that that can't just be somebody who's technically proficient. The world and the digital footprint they'll leave that we can then use as information to arm how we reach out, what we say when we do it, and then be able to activate on that.

Andy:

That is absolutely the other side of the coin and on the margin, there are things you can do today to get better at Somebody's doing somebody's quote unquote, doing data already. Right, right, like it's not like. Like this is this is a total like shift. It's. It's saying what? How can I have that better informed? I love it's activating Right.

Gary:

How can I?

Andy:

activate this.

Gary:

And it goes back to Well, that person is, that person is busy, well, what? What else are they doing? That's more important than this it comes down to. You're going to have to say no to something to get to where you want to go, and that means you're going to have to reshift their priorities and allow them the freedom to be able to experiment and make some mistakes and move in that direction, because what's your alternative? Just keep doing the same thing faster, right? That's?

Gary:

That's the whole random acts thing, and then the the related side of that same coin, then, is also thinking about measurement, not in outcomes, ie pipeline revenue, while that the goal.

Gary:

We actually need to obsess over the inputs to that and the ability to measure that across the funnel, so that when we get somebody here to a certain point, looking at their behavior as cohorts over time to see, are we seeing higher quality, faster times, lower cycle times, higher ACVs, you know, more engagement, whatever those leading indicators are that help us understand that we're, that what we're doing is having an impact and moving in the right direction, because if we don't, and we only rely on those outcome metrics A, they lag and B we're going to be pulling the ripcord on something, just as it's starting to work, yep, because it's taking a little bit longer than we want.

Gary:

So it's like those three components and, to your point, probably, the theme for this podcast is around how do you make your random acts of GTM a little less random, right, and it's more of an evolution than it is a revolution, right? You don't have the luxury to just make this big strategic change overnight. We have to equip and look for those points of leverage which we believe come with insights, investigative, journalist and in rev ops as it relates to data systems activation and monitoring and finding a way to get those capabilities inside of your organization. That doesn't mean hiring people that do that. How can we redeploy existing resources to get to that Mic drop?

Gary:

Good timing too, because we are a little bit shorter than our typical chat, but, I think, a reinforcement of what we've been chatting before and good timing, I think, too, because we are about to turn the corner on.

Gary:

We are recording this on at the very last week of June, which means the end of the second quarter, which means the start of the third quarter, which means the season of board meetings, where these board meetings start to turn to look over the horizon at 2025 and everything that goes into that. So this is very timely because I think everybody's been kind of suffering through a year of it's not terrible, it's not great and what we were. We're really frustrated because what we're doing isn't working, and yet we don't see a golden path forward on exactly what we should do. And so this is what we have seen and are experiencing and are working on in real time is working on this evolution of the GTM engine, not the revolution getting started, leaning into those key contributors to success. And, admittedly, it's not easy. It's going to require some hard choices. All right, any final words of wisdom? Andy, thank you for bringing that stuff together. It was really helpful for some context.

Andy:

No, I think that's it. It's second half now. I think it's it. It's it's second half now. I think it's been more than a year of kind of like fair. It's been a little bit more of a year of kind of like nah and, I think, a lot of people are probably if, if they're listening, whoever's listening? Hi, hi, you three, they're probably nodding. It's been more than a year, it's just been kind of meh.

Gary:

Yeah, agreed. So let's make it the second half of non-meh in 2024. All right, we'll end on that note. Have a great week. Actually, next week, because it is Independence Week, we're going to take a pause and everybody should be celebrating, hopefully with family and friends, and we'll be back the week after that as we kick off the third quarter. Until then, bye. Thank you for tuning in to GTM Pro, where you become the pro. We're here to foster your growth as a revenue leader, offering the insights you need to thrive. For further guidance, visit gtmproco and continue your path to becoming board ready with us. Share this journey, subscribe, engage and elevate your go-to-market skills. Until next time, go be a pro.

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