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Unlocking Growth: Strategic Marketing
in a Budget-Constrained World

Welcome to Revenue Boost: A Marketing Podcast, the ultimate resource for business leaders eager to skyrocket their company's growth! I'm your host, Kerry Curran, and this episode is "Unlocking Growth: Strategic Marketing in a Budget-Constrained World," with special guest Tom Shapiro, founder and CEO of Stratabeat.

In this episode, we dive deep into achieving remarkable growth on a limited budget. Tom Shapiro shares his expertise on maximizing efficiency, driving revenue, and crafting standout brand strategies. From SEO to conversion rate optimization, Tom’s insights are tailored to help you thrive in today’s challenging economic landscape. Whether you’re a CMO under pressure or a business leader seeking innovative revenue-boosting strategies, this episode is packed with actionable advice.

Tune in and discover how to turn budget constraints into opportunities for growth. Let’s unlock the secrets to strategic marketing success!

Podcast transcript

 

Welcome to Revenue Boost: A Marketing Podcast, the ultimate resource for business leaders eager to skyrocket their company's growth!


I'm your host, Kerry Curran, and this episode is "Unlocking Growth: Strategic Marketing in a Budget-Constrained World," with special guest Tom Shapiro, founder and CEO of Stratabeat.


In this episode, we'll uncover how to achieve remarkable growth on a limited budget. Tom will share his insights and practical advice on maximizing efficiency, driving revenue, and creating a standout brand strategy. Whether you're a CMO under pressure or a business leader seeking innovative revenue-boosting strategies, this episode is packed with actionable insights. Let's dive in and unlock the secrets to strategic marketing success.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (00:02.094)

So welcome, Tom. Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience. I know you're very passionate about marketing and lead generation.

 

Tom Shapiro (00:11.894)

Yeah, yeah, thanks, Kerry. So I'm the founder and CEO of Stratabeat, which is a B2B organic growth agency for technology and SaaS companies. And yeah, so I've been in the marketing space forever. Actually, the first website that I developed was in 1994, so several years before even Google existed. And I've been deeply embedded in the digital space ever since.

And yeah, I'm very passionate about SEO and content and websites and web design, conversion rate optimization, all that good stuff.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (00:52.27)

Awesome, and you're the author of a book.

 

Tom Shapiro (00:56.438)

Yes. So I wrote Rethink Lead Generation because I was seeing a lot of B2B businesses that were mostly copying the competition or very timid about any type of innovation, really just sticking to what they were comfortable with, what they've done in the past. And if there was any changes to be made to their marketing programs, it was really just slight tweaks, like tweaking around the edges rather than pushing their chips into the center of the table, having a backbone and really taking bold moves.

And so, I wrote the book explaining and walking through many different case studies and examples of how to unleash growth, how to unleash leads growth, whether we're talking about websites, whether we're talking about SEO content, referrals, ABM, all of this organic type of marketing where… you're not just copying the competition. You're not just tweaking around the edges, but you're having a bigger impact.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (02:01.87)

Awesome, thanks. I know I'm glad you are able to join us today because you have so much experience and so many good recommendations to share. And I know a lot of people are lucky to see you speak at conferences and you're really talking directly to a lot of marketing leads, whether it's your own clients or prospects or people asking you questions as the thought leader at these conferences and the subject matter experts.

I'm so curious, what are you hearing the most as you're talking to people? Like, what are they asking you when people are calling you and saying they think they want to hire you or at conferences? What are some of the trends?

 

Tom Shapiro (02:45.046)

Yes, one of the biggest trends right now is a lot of B2B technology companies are facing budget constraints, budget reductions, and CEOs who are demanding results today, immediately, now. And so essentially, even Gartner came out with a report recently validating or pointing to this that CMOs are being asked to do more with less right now. And so it is a big topic in B2B marketing.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (03:00.27)
Yeah.

 

Tom Shapiro (03:15.094)

To make sure that you're able to be more efficient than perhaps you might have been in years past, that you're able to actually take a lower budget and achieve equal results. So the CEOs are not looking for reduced results from the reduced budgets, they're looking for the same or even greater results from the reduced budgets. So it really is a case of trying to do more with less. And we see that across the board.

No matter what type of company it is right now, it seems to be the general feeling in the market.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (03:48.558)

And so, I mean, that makes sense, right? Everyone, the budgets are tighter and so you need more sales to drive more revenue. If you focus too much on that driving leads, you're kind of missing out on some of the more fundamentals, the strategies, the long-term strategies that you need, that need to be established. Like what do you think? Like is it, are we focusing too much on sales then?

 

Tom Shapiro (04:19.702)

Yes, I think we are. I think we're being too myopic and we are sacrificing future growth for really just trying to run around with our heads chopped off right now, trying to get things done today, this week, next week. It's in almost every case.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (04:43.822)

A philosophy I'm working off of is they [the target audience] have to be aware of you, right? So they have to know you, they being your target, connect your brand to the solution to the problem that they have or don't have. And then they have to be in the market. And there's only so much you can do. The first two elements, really, you percent of businesses are only 5 % are actually in the market right now. 95 % are or 95 % of the time, whatever it is.

 

Tom Shapiro (04:49.206)

When you're more strategic, when you take a step back, when you have a deeper plan, you do tend to get much better lead gen, marketing and business results across the board. And yeah, it might not happen overnight, but longer term, you do build the business faster, more substantially. One of my favorite books about mid-sized businesses is by a guy named Robert Scheer where he talks about the eight.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (05:10.51)

The majority of your target audience is not in the market and reacts. It's really a reactive strategy to your point of like, of that frequent changing. You're not, it's, it's not a strategy, right? Reactive is not a strategy. And so, yeah. it definitely needs to, we need some more balance in a parallel path thing.

 

Tom Shapiro (05:18.838)

Destructive behaviors of mid-sized businesses. And one of them, which is, you know, the bottleneck to growth is changing direction too often, right? At the top, the CEO, the C-suite leadership changes direction of the company every three months or six months. And you see that in this type of environment where the focus is much more on sales and there's less of a focus on strategy. You know, it's really critical.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (05:44.718)

Yeah.

 

Tom Shapiro (05:48.47)

To have a longer term plan. And here's the thing, you can parallel path, right? You can do lots of things to bolster short term results. There are plenty of tools in the toolbox to do that. But if you sacrifice the longer term strategic initiatives, you really are sacrificing where you're gonna be in six months. And it's just funny how so many CEOs and CMOs are surprised by this when they’ve… hit it with it down the road when you could see it coming a mile away. Exactly.

 

Tom Shapiro (07:45.494)

Yeah, I'm so glad you brought this up because you're spot on, right? 95% of their audience is not ready to buy today when they come to your website. Now, I would say 95% are not ready to submit a form, right, for whatever reason. And it doesn't mean that they're not qualified and it doesn't mean that they're not interested, but many companies treat them as if they don't matter, right? If you don't fill out a form, you just don't matter.

And so one of the things that we love to do with our clients as you know, Kerry, is identify exactly who's on the website, whether they're filling out a form, right? Whether they're handing over an email address or not. And then if they are showing intent and there are different levels of intent that you can measure and if they're your ICP, then you proactively conduct outreach to them, right? And you start a conversation anyway.

This is so effective. We have found this so effective for ourselves, for our clients through the years. And it amazes me how few companies do this. And by do this, I mean on a daily basis, like literally on a daily basis. So it's literally the first thing that I look at every morning is the website visitor detection analytics, right? Who's on the website? What are they doing? Who's our ICP? Who should we be having a conversation with? And the majority, like any website, the majority… are not filling out forms, right? Right? I mean, how often do you fill out a form? How often do I fill out a form? Right? It's rare. It's rare. And so it is just one of the most impactful things that you can do.

You can do it today. And it impacts your conversations today, even though they might not be buying today, but sometimes they are, and they're just not filling out your form. Right? And so it amazes me how few companies are doing this. Yet if… you're freaking out and you're all about reducing budget and going after sales immediately, it's one of the most effective things that you can do.

 

Tom Shapiro (10:53.526)

Yeah, yeah. So with any client that we're working with, regardless of what types of marketing vehicles we might be using or what the approach might be, we always want to start off with a solid brand stack and a solid messaging platform. We want to understand exactly what the differentiation is, what the positioning is, what the brand personality/tonality is, what the customer value proposition is or the customer promise.

And messaging is really, really critical. And too often we start a relationship with a new client where their messaging is very vanilla. Right. And it's right. You know, we, I can't tell you how many times we have this experience where we'll be talking with the prospect.

And we'll say, so what is your differentiation? Like you said, Kerry, you know, okay, we're seeing 30 competitors in your space. Like what's your differentiation and why should someone hire you? And one response that we get quite often is, it's our people. And we say, come on. Like really that's what you're saying to your market is it's your people. I'm sure you have wonderful people. I'm sure you have very smart people, but I'm sure some of your competitors have really smart people too.

It isn't... right?

 

Tom Shapiro (12:30.838)

Yeah, yeah. And here's the thing with technology. I mean, your technology might be great today, but six months from now, a competitor can easily leapfrog you, easily. It happens all the time. And so then if that's what you're relying on for your differentiation, you're stuck. Right?.

 

Tom Shapiro (13:10.742)

Yeah, so the first thing that we do is before we do any marketing, before we do any lead generation, before we're writing any content pieces, we have to go through a brand strategy process, right? And it includes a competitive analysis, but it also includes a lot of interviewing and a lot of audience research. Part of that audience research, what we love to do is to talk with their customers, right?

So it's one thing to listen to a client and it might be their marketing team, right? And they talk about things in a conference room, right? In a silo. And that's one perspective. But then when you actually talk to sales, we love talking to the sales team as well, right? Because they have a very different viewpoint sometimes.

 

Tom Shapiro (14:03.894)

Yeah, exactly. We love talking to the CEO. We love talking. Sometimes we talk to the CFO, which is also very interesting. We love talking to the head of product. And sometimes you might have different heads of product if you have multiple product lines. And then we love talking with their customers. And it's funny because a lot of them have never done that. They've never conducted customer interviews as part of a marketing initiative, right?

And invariably, we will come back to them with insights that they had never heard of before, they've never thought of, but it's what their customers are remembering, it's what they recall, it's what's important to them. And also you hear tremendous stories from their customers, and those are invaluable. Sometimes you have permission to use those in your marketing, it's very, very powerful stuff. The other thing that we love to do as part of this process, is to listen to sales calls. And what we mean by that is, you know, use a technology like Gong or chorus that records sales meetings.

And then we go in and we listen to sales calls. So sometimes we might listen to 10 sales calls. In other cases, we listen to 20, literally 20 different sales calls in order to understand what the audience is saying, what they're, what are they asking? What questions are they asking? What objections do they have? And it's all part of this foundation building.

Before you start attacking your marketing and your lead generation, it's so important to get that base and that strategy and that messaging platform really, really strong. And that's how you know what your clear differentiation is instead of just defaulting to, it's our people.

 

Tom Shapiro (16:04.67)

Yes, and that's so true. And I would say the same exact thing for the differentiation. Like you read their homepage and there's no differentiation. They just kind of give you a 10,000 foot view of their services or their products, right? But there's no differentiation. And typically with almost any website, the homepage is going to have more… landing page visits. In other words, that will be the first page that people visit, more than any other page in your website, outside of marketing campaigns directed towards a specific deeper page. And so if your differentiation is not crystal clear on your homepage, you're going to have serious problems. You're limiting your revenue potential.

 

Tom Shapiro (17:21.174)

Yeah, I'm not going to name names for who's doing it poorly.

So, okay, so there's one website that comes to mind. They're a half a billion dollars in size, so they're not small. And when I first came upon their site, if you read the hero messaging, so what's at the top of the homepage, it was a phrase, it was a catchphrase, but it had nothing to do with their industry, with their business, with their audience.

And then you read the initial blurb underneath and you still don't really know, okay, well, am I in the right place? Am I the right audience? So they didn't even mention who they were selling to, like whether you were in the right place or not, or what you could buy from them. And then went through the rest of the page trying to figure out, trying to pinpoint, okay, well, what makes them different from all the others in their space? And literally there was not one mention, not one mention of what made them different.

And again, this is a half billion dollar a year company. We're not talking about a startup. We're talking about a company that should know who they are and should be able to clearly articulate it. And so even when I asked them, I pointed out, I said, look, I can't see any differentiation here. Can you explain your differentiation? You know, they were tripping over themselves trying to kind of come up with something on the spot. So it was clear that the marketing team and there were at least.

I'd say five people on the call from the marketing team. No one, not one individual on the marketing team could give me a clear answer on their differentiation and they certainly weren't agreeing with each other. At one point, I had gone into a company and met with their senior leadership team, it was 15 individuals. And I actually said, okay, look, I wanna do an exercise with you, I want to ask you your differentiation, but I want to go one by one.

 

Tom Shapiro (19:26.678)

And like, please don't interrupt the others. And so I had the members of the leadership team one by one explain their differentiation. There were 15 individuals and I got at least 10 different answers. So those are some examples, real life examples of what we actually see and it's shocking and you would think, no, that can't happen. Yes, yes, it can happen and it does happen all the time. However, yeah, and you too, Kerry. I mean, you provide tremendous value to companies and opportunities for revenue growth. And so, yeah, it's amazing that there are a lot of companies out there that really need this help. You know, companies that I think through the years have done a tremendous job with articulating who they are and their differentiation and having a backbone and just doing things so differently from the rest of the industry.

You know, one of my favorite examples is the software company Drift. You know, you look at them and, you know, they were one of the first to ungate their lead magnets, right? And their whole philosophy was, well, we want the audience to have the best experience possible. We don't want any frustration. We don't want any friction. If they want the information, just give it to them. Like, it's not about us collecting the lead. It's about them.

Learning about our solutions, right? They went on to become one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in history, right? And now they're a unicorn. So, you know, something like that. Also, their messaging was really, really bold. You know, I had interviewed their VP of marketing at the time, you know, for one of my books. And, you know, he was just telling me all these amazing stories about...

ABM that they were doing, very, very customized campaigns, very personalized that at the time was really ahead of its time. And then you also look at some of the things that they were doing that do not scale. They don't scale. So today, like we were talking about, Kerry, it's all about efficiency. It's all about doing more with less. CEOs are putting tremendous pressure on CMOs and VPs of marketing to… to do more with the lower budget these days and they want everything measured yet. Okay, let's go back to the Drift example. What made them so special? Well, a lot of it, you can't scale, but it was magical. So for instance, they would respond, they had a policy of responding to absolutely every single social media comment. And so if they had hundreds of comments across multiple platforms,

They would spend the time every single day answering it. And if the board of directors asked them, well, prove to us the ROI of the comment here on this tweet, right? They couldn't do it and they admitted it. They were like, we don't know, we can't calculate that, but who cares? Like we are fostering brand love, right? It's all about brand affinity, brand love, and this is a movement, right?

And they felt passionately about it and therefore their customers felt passionately about it and you know they skyrocketed with growth and it did differentiate them and if it's all about just getting a lead today as quickly as you can and not caring about the customer not making it customer focused but just making it internally focused it's it's very short-sighted and it won't work longer term.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (23:54.466)

Well, thank you. You are absolutely amazing and hope to have you on again.

 

Tom Shapiro (24:19.251)

Thank you so much.

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Unlocking Growth: Strategic Marketing in a Budget-Constrained World

Welcome to Revenue Boost: A Marketing Podcast, the ultimate resource for business leaders eager to skyrocket their company's growth! I'm your host, Kerry Curran, and this episode is "Unlocking Growth: Strategic Marketing in a Budget-Constrained World," with special guest Tom Shapiro, founder and CEO of Stratabeat.

In this episode, we dive deep into achieving remarkable growth on a limited budget. Tom Shapiro shares his expertise on maximizing efficiency, driving revenue, and crafting standout brand strategies. From SEO to conversion rate optimization, Tom’s insights are tailored to help you thrive in today’s challenging economic landscape. Whether you’re a CMO under pressure or a business leader seeking innovative revenue-boosting strategies, this episode is packed with actionable advice.

Tune in and discover how to turn budget constraints into opportunities for growth. Let’s unlock the secrets to strategic marketing success!

Podcast transcript

 

Welcome to Revenue Boost: A Marketing Podcast, the ultimate resource for business leaders eager to skyrocket their company's growth!


I'm your host, Kerry Curran, and this episode is "Unlocking Growth: Strategic Marketing in a Budget-Constrained World," with special guest Tom Shapiro, founder and CEO of Stratabeat.


In this episode, we'll uncover how to achieve remarkable growth on a limited budget. Tom will share his insights and practical advice on maximizing efficiency, driving revenue, and creating a standout brand strategy. Whether you're a CMO under pressure or a business leader seeking innovative revenue-boosting strategies, this episode is packed with actionable insights. Let's dive in and unlock the secrets to strategic marketing success.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (00:02.094)

So welcome, Tom. Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience. I know you're very passionate about marketing and lead generation.

 

Tom Shapiro (00:11.894)

Yeah, yeah, thanks, Kerry. So I'm the founder and CEO of Stratabeat, which is a B2B organic growth agency for technology and SaaS companies. And yeah, so I've been in the marketing space forever. Actually, the first website that I developed was in 1994, so several years before even Google existed. And I've been deeply embedded in the digital space ever since.

And yeah, I'm very passionate about SEO and content and websites and web design, conversion rate optimization, all that good stuff.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (00:52.27)

Awesome, and you're the author of a book.

 

Tom Shapiro (00:56.438)

Yes. So I wrote Rethink Lead Generation because I was seeing a lot of B2B businesses that were mostly copying the competition or very timid about any type of innovation, really just sticking to what they were comfortable with, what they've done in the past. And if there was any changes to be made to their marketing programs, it was really just slight tweaks, like tweaking around the edges rather than pushing their chips into the center of the table, having a backbone and really taking bold moves.

And so, I wrote the book explaining and walking through many different case studies and examples of how to unleash growth, how to unleash leads growth, whether we're talking about websites, whether we're talking about SEO content, referrals, ABM, all of this organic type of marketing where… you're not just copying the competition. You're not just tweaking around the edges, but you're having a bigger impact.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (02:01.87)

Awesome, thanks. I know I'm glad you are able to join us today because you have so much experience and so many good recommendations to share. And I know a lot of people are lucky to see you speak at conferences and you're really talking directly to a lot of marketing leads, whether it's your own clients or prospects or people asking you questions as the thought leader at these conferences and the subject matter experts.

I'm so curious, what are you hearing the most as you're talking to people? Like, what are they asking you when people are calling you and saying they think they want to hire you or at conferences? What are some of the trends?

 

Tom Shapiro (02:45.046)

Yes, one of the biggest trends right now is a lot of B2B technology companies are facing budget constraints, budget reductions, and CEOs who are demanding results today, immediately, now. And so essentially, even Gartner came out with a report recently validating or pointing to this that CMOs are being asked to do more with less right now. And so it is a big topic in B2B marketing.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (03:00.27)
Yeah.

 

Tom Shapiro (03:15.094)

To make sure that you're able to be more efficient than perhaps you might have been in years past, that you're able to actually take a lower budget and achieve equal results. So the CEOs are not looking for reduced results from the reduced budgets, they're looking for the same or even greater results from the reduced budgets. So it really is a case of trying to do more with less. And we see that across the board.

No matter what type of company it is right now, it seems to be the general feeling in the market.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (03:48.558)

And so, I mean, that makes sense, right? Everyone, the budgets are tighter and so you need more sales to drive more revenue. If you focus too much on that driving leads, you're kind of missing out on some of the more fundamentals, the strategies, the long-term strategies that you need, that need to be established. Like what do you think? Like is it, are we focusing too much on sales then?

 

Tom Shapiro (04:19.702)

Yes, I think we are. I think we're being too myopic and we are sacrificing future growth for really just trying to run around with our heads chopped off right now, trying to get things done today, this week, next week. It's in almost every case.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (04:43.822)

A philosophy I'm working off of is they [the target audience] have to be aware of you, right? So they have to know you, they being your target, connect your brand to the solution to the problem that they have or don't have. And then they have to be in the market. And there's only so much you can do. The first two elements, really, you percent of businesses are only 5 % are actually in the market right now. 95 % are or 95 % of the time, whatever it is.

 

Tom Shapiro (04:49.206)

When you're more strategic, when you take a step back, when you have a deeper plan, you do tend to get much better lead gen, marketing and business results across the board. And yeah, it might not happen overnight, but longer term, you do build the business faster, more substantially. One of my favorite books about mid-sized businesses is by a guy named Robert Scheer where he talks about the eight.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (05:10.51)

The majority of your target audience is not in the market and reacts. It's really a reactive strategy to your point of like, of that frequent changing. You're not, it's, it's not a strategy, right? Reactive is not a strategy. And so, yeah. it definitely needs to, we need some more balance in a parallel path thing.

 

Tom Shapiro (05:18.838)

Destructive behaviors of mid-sized businesses. And one of them, which is, you know, the bottleneck to growth is changing direction too often, right? At the top, the CEO, the C-suite leadership changes direction of the company every three months or six months. And you see that in this type of environment where the focus is much more on sales and there's less of a focus on strategy. You know, it's really critical.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (05:44.718)

Yeah.

 

Tom Shapiro (05:48.47)

To have a longer term plan. And here's the thing, you can parallel path, right? You can do lots of things to bolster short term results. There are plenty of tools in the toolbox to do that. But if you sacrifice the longer term strategic initiatives, you really are sacrificing where you're gonna be in six months. And it's just funny how so many CEOs and CMOs are surprised by this when they’ve… hit it with it down the road when you could see it coming a mile away. Exactly.

 

Tom Shapiro (07:45.494)

Yeah, I'm so glad you brought this up because you're spot on, right? 95% of their audience is not ready to buy today when they come to your website. Now, I would say 95% are not ready to submit a form, right, for whatever reason. And it doesn't mean that they're not qualified and it doesn't mean that they're not interested, but many companies treat them as if they don't matter, right? If you don't fill out a form, you just don't matter.

And so one of the things that we love to do with our clients as you know, Kerry, is identify exactly who's on the website, whether they're filling out a form, right? Whether they're handing over an email address or not. And then if they are showing intent and there are different levels of intent that you can measure and if they're your ICP, then you proactively conduct outreach to them, right? And you start a conversation anyway.

This is so effective. We have found this so effective for ourselves, for our clients through the years. And it amazes me how few companies do this. And by do this, I mean on a daily basis, like literally on a daily basis. So it's literally the first thing that I look at every morning is the website visitor detection analytics, right? Who's on the website? What are they doing? Who's our ICP? Who should we be having a conversation with? And the majority, like any website, the majority… are not filling out forms, right? Right? I mean, how often do you fill out a form? How often do I fill out a form? Right? It's rare. It's rare. And so it is just one of the most impactful things that you can do.

You can do it today. And it impacts your conversations today, even though they might not be buying today, but sometimes they are, and they're just not filling out your form. Right? And so it amazes me how few companies are doing this. Yet if… you're freaking out and you're all about reducing budget and going after sales immediately, it's one of the most effective things that you can do.

 

Tom Shapiro (10:53.526)

Yeah, yeah. So with any client that we're working with, regardless of what types of marketing vehicles we might be using or what the approach might be, we always want to start off with a solid brand stack and a solid messaging platform. We want to understand exactly what the differentiation is, what the positioning is, what the brand personality/tonality is, what the customer value proposition is or the customer promise.

And messaging is really, really critical. And too often we start a relationship with a new client where their messaging is very vanilla. Right. And it's right. You know, we, I can't tell you how many times we have this experience where we'll be talking with the prospect.

And we'll say, so what is your differentiation? Like you said, Kerry, you know, okay, we're seeing 30 competitors in your space. Like what's your differentiation and why should someone hire you? And one response that we get quite often is, it's our people. And we say, come on. Like really that's what you're saying to your market is it's your people. I'm sure you have wonderful people. I'm sure you have very smart people, but I'm sure some of your competitors have really smart people too.

It isn't... right?

 

Tom Shapiro (12:30.838)

Yeah, yeah. And here's the thing with technology. I mean, your technology might be great today, but six months from now, a competitor can easily leapfrog you, easily. It happens all the time. And so then if that's what you're relying on for your differentiation, you're stuck. Right?.

 

Tom Shapiro (13:10.742)

Yeah, so the first thing that we do is before we do any marketing, before we do any lead generation, before we're writing any content pieces, we have to go through a brand strategy process, right? And it includes a competitive analysis, but it also includes a lot of interviewing and a lot of audience research. Part of that audience research, what we love to do is to talk with their customers, right?

So it's one thing to listen to a client and it might be their marketing team, right? And they talk about things in a conference room, right? In a silo. And that's one perspective. But then when you actually talk to sales, we love talking to the sales team as well, right? Because they have a very different viewpoint sometimes.

 

Tom Shapiro (14:03.894)

Yeah, exactly. We love talking to the CEO. We love talking. Sometimes we talk to the CFO, which is also very interesting. We love talking to the head of product. And sometimes you might have different heads of product if you have multiple product lines. And then we love talking with their customers. And it's funny because a lot of them have never done that. They've never conducted customer interviews as part of a marketing initiative, right?

And invariably, we will come back to them with insights that they had never heard of before, they've never thought of, but it's what their customers are remembering, it's what they recall, it's what's important to them. And also you hear tremendous stories from their customers, and those are invaluable. Sometimes you have permission to use those in your marketing, it's very, very powerful stuff. The other thing that we love to do as part of this process, is to listen to sales calls. And what we mean by that is, you know, use a technology like Gong or chorus that records sales meetings.

And then we go in and we listen to sales calls. So sometimes we might listen to 10 sales calls. In other cases, we listen to 20, literally 20 different sales calls in order to understand what the audience is saying, what they're, what are they asking? What questions are they asking? What objections do they have? And it's all part of this foundation building.

Before you start attacking your marketing and your lead generation, it's so important to get that base and that strategy and that messaging platform really, really strong. And that's how you know what your clear differentiation is instead of just defaulting to, it's our people.

 

Tom Shapiro (16:04.67)

Yes, and that's so true. And I would say the same exact thing for the differentiation. Like you read their homepage and there's no differentiation. They just kind of give you a 10,000 foot view of their services or their products, right? But there's no differentiation. And typically with almost any website, the homepage is going to have more… landing page visits. In other words, that will be the first page that people visit, more than any other page in your website, outside of marketing campaigns directed towards a specific deeper page. And so if your differentiation is not crystal clear on your homepage, you're going to have serious problems. You're limiting your revenue potential.

 

Tom Shapiro (17:21.174)

Yeah, I'm not going to name names for who's doing it poorly.

So, okay, so there's one website that comes to mind. They're a half a billion dollars in size, so they're not small. And when I first came upon their site, if you read the hero messaging, so what's at the top of the homepage, it was a phrase, it was a catchphrase, but it had nothing to do with their industry, with their business, with their audience.

And then you read the initial blurb underneath and you still don't really know, okay, well, am I in the right place? Am I the right audience? So they didn't even mention who they were selling to, like whether you were in the right place or not, or what you could buy from them. And then went through the rest of the page trying to figure out, trying to pinpoint, okay, well, what makes them different from all the others in their space? And literally there was not one mention, not one mention of what made them different.

And again, this is a half billion dollar a year company. We're not talking about a startup. We're talking about a company that should know who they are and should be able to clearly articulate it. And so even when I asked them, I pointed out, I said, look, I can't see any differentiation here. Can you explain your differentiation? You know, they were tripping over themselves trying to kind of come up with something on the spot. So it was clear that the marketing team and there were at least.

I'd say five people on the call from the marketing team. No one, not one individual on the marketing team could give me a clear answer on their differentiation and they certainly weren't agreeing with each other. At one point, I had gone into a company and met with their senior leadership team, it was 15 individuals. And I actually said, okay, look, I wanna do an exercise with you, I want to ask you your differentiation, but I want to go one by one.

 

Tom Shapiro (19:26.678)

And like, please don't interrupt the others. And so I had the members of the leadership team one by one explain their differentiation. There were 15 individuals and I got at least 10 different answers. So those are some examples, real life examples of what we actually see and it's shocking and you would think, no, that can't happen. Yes, yes, it can happen and it does happen all the time. However, yeah, and you too, Kerry. I mean, you provide tremendous value to companies and opportunities for revenue growth. And so, yeah, it's amazing that there are a lot of companies out there that really need this help. You know, companies that I think through the years have done a tremendous job with articulating who they are and their differentiation and having a backbone and just doing things so differently from the rest of the industry.

You know, one of my favorite examples is the software company Drift. You know, you look at them and, you know, they were one of the first to ungate their lead magnets, right? And their whole philosophy was, well, we want the audience to have the best experience possible. We don't want any frustration. We don't want any friction. If they want the information, just give it to them. Like, it's not about us collecting the lead. It's about them.

Learning about our solutions, right? They went on to become one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in history, right? And now they're a unicorn. So, you know, something like that. Also, their messaging was really, really bold. You know, I had interviewed their VP of marketing at the time, you know, for one of my books. And, you know, he was just telling me all these amazing stories about...

ABM that they were doing, very, very customized campaigns, very personalized that at the time was really ahead of its time. And then you also look at some of the things that they were doing that do not scale. They don't scale. So today, like we were talking about, Kerry, it's all about efficiency. It's all about doing more with less. CEOs are putting tremendous pressure on CMOs and VPs of marketing to… to do more with the lower budget these days and they want everything measured yet. Okay, let's go back to the Drift example. What made them so special? Well, a lot of it, you can't scale, but it was magical. So for instance, they would respond, they had a policy of responding to absolutely every single social media comment. And so if they had hundreds of comments across multiple platforms,

They would spend the time every single day answering it. And if the board of directors asked them, well, prove to us the ROI of the comment here on this tweet, right? They couldn't do it and they admitted it. They were like, we don't know, we can't calculate that, but who cares? Like we are fostering brand love, right? It's all about brand affinity, brand love, and this is a movement, right?

And they felt passionately about it and therefore their customers felt passionately about it and you know they skyrocketed with growth and it did differentiate them and if it's all about just getting a lead today as quickly as you can and not caring about the customer not making it customer focused but just making it internally focused it's it's very short-sighted and it won't work longer term.

 

Kerry Curran, RBMA (23:54.466)

Well, thank you. You are absolutely amazing and hope to have you on again.

 

Tom Shapiro (24:19.251)

Thank you so much.

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