By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which currently runs every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg. Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise. Recent Guests: Jim Keenan; Joanne Black; Aaron Ross; Josiane Feigon, Meagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.
We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.
This week, Joe Chernov, The Godfather of B2B Content Marketing?: A conversation with Joe Chernov
Paul: Welcome everybody it’s time once again to grab your board and catch a wave and pick up that big pipeline, the sales pipeline with Matt Heinz from Heinz Marketing. Hey Matt, how are you?
Matt: Good Paul, how are you?
Paul: I’m doing good today, it stopped raining. When it rains for a day in Southern California and it’s like a disaster. So it rained yesterday and everybody is all upset but today the sun’s up.
Matt: What do you mean a disaster? I thought you guys were in some kind of dramatic drought down there?
Paul: We are. We just want it to rain at night though. When it rains in California people literally stay home and say oh, forget it I won’t even bother to go out today.
Matt: If you wouldn’t mind raining like nights and weekends when we are not driving to work that’s great.
Matt: It reminds me of up here in Seattle when it reaches 90° because the entire West Coast, there is no humidity and generally it’s very temporary.
Matt: So when it gets to be 90° with no humidity in Seattle, it’s front page news. You will have the newscasters, it’s the first story and they will have someone outside under an umbrella because you can’t get direct sunlight saying okay, carry water with you, stay hydrated, make sure you’ve got two weeks of food just in case you get stuck on the sidewalk, it’s really…
Paul: We take our weather seriously on the West Coast here.
Matt: Yeah, and I am guessing that Joe Chernov who lives in Boston is just laughing at us.
Paul: He doesn’t understand any of this.
Matt: No, he’s like what is wrong with you people? I think of it, most of my extended family is in Illinois and Iowa and they are the same way where they are like you get stuck in the snow, it’s the deal. In the summer, you bake until you are perspiring because it’s 1000° humidity like what’s wrong with you soft people out on the West Coast?
Paul: We are not used to weather changes.
Matt: No we are not but I tell you what, I’ll take it, I’ll take what we’ve got, it’s pretty nice living up here in Seattle and this has been nice. It’s the second consecutive week I’ve been able to do this show from the world headquarters here in Redmond Washington. That streak will end after today unfortunately but hey, thanks very much everyone here at Sales Pipeline Radio, always a pleasure to have you.
We are alive every week at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific. You can always catch every episode as well through the podcast at Google Play or add to the iTunes Store and every one of our past episodes and all of our past speakers and guests to show are on www.salespipelineradio.com.
We are heading to the end of September. I think today is the very first day of Fall, I am starting to feel the weather outside. Our office here is excited. Someone brought in a whole bunch of pumpkin spice stuff which I am not sure how much pumpkin or spice is in any of those actually, probably just the flavors that we get from chemical factories out in New Jersey but excited to have Fall here.
Then next week will be doing the show live from Dream Force of the Salesforce annual conference that I think they’re up to about 800,000 people descend in… I’m kidding, it’s a lot of people but descend in San Francisco for three or four days. And I have a feeling that actually, I don’t know, I think we will find out if our guest today is going to be there but excited.
This is our second attempt to get Joe Chernov on the show. The last time we did this we had some super fun technical difficulties. He was supercool about not having to make that and he was able to make it here today. So Joe I believe we called you the godfather of B2B content marketing in promotional materials. I don’t know if that makes you feel old if it’s related to the recently departed beard, I don’t know what it is but Joe welcome to the show and how do you feel about being called the godfather?
Joe: As long as I’m not the Fredo of content marketing I’ll take it. But I think that honor goes to Joe Pulizzi, I’d hand it to him.
Matt: You know there are a handful of people in and around in the industry that I think when people think about content marketing they are the people you think about and Joe Pulizzi and I think Ann Handley is another. But don’t sell yourself short. I mean the work that you’ve done throughout your career to really advance not just what’s done in content marketing but the impact and strategic role of content marketing in B2B has been significant. So talk a little bit about where that got started. I mean you were at HubSpot, you spent time at Eloqua, you really built out an extremely robust content marketing effort at Eloqua that clearly became the model for a lot of companies including HubSpot, including Marketo, including many in the MarTech space.
Talk about how that began for you. Why did that become a focus for you, for Eloqua and how did that begin to mature over there.
Joe: Sure. It’s unbelievable what you can get done if you don’t care if you get fired. And I joined Eloqua in a PR and social media role and it was clear very early on that generating press was going to be a tough nut to crack.
It was the beginning of bloggers ousting traditional media and there was a decay in the number of “credentialed journalists” out there. And those that were out there were covering Apple, Google, this is pre Uber. But there was a handful of companies that they would cover and everybody else at to fight for the scraps.
And I was getting frustrated fighting for the scraps and one day Brian Kardon and I were talking, Brian Kardon was my boss, who was the CMO. And it occurred to us that what journalists would write about wasn’t necessarily your new product or our or new product or new service or a new certification we received. But if we were to publish something that was genuinely voluble, inherently valuable, they would write about that and we could elbow our way into paragraph number two because the reporter would have to say who published this thing and so the key being publishing good things and then get the company’s positioning in paragraph two.
And I’m going to fast-forward a couple of years. A couple of years in we finally released a product called Eloqua 10 which was years in the works and we hired two PR firms; one domestically, one internationally to help generate awareness for it. I think we got like 16 articles on the announcement. And along the way I had published an info graphic called The Content Grid and there were 800 articles on The Content Grid.
Now we don’t measure press by pound and there is certainly varying degrees of importance to each story. But just to give you a sense of the magnitude difference between the two, the entire company spent two years on one product to get 16 articles and an info graphic got 800.
Matt: So help define for me what is content marketing. I think everyone has got a different definition. I tend to like the overarching definition from Anne Handley that everything the light touches content, it’s broad and I think there’s a purpose behind it. But when you think about developing content marketing program in a company, what does that mean? What does that encompass?
Joe: I think content marketing is what happens when a marketing department shifts its thinking from knowing that the company signs their paychecks to imagining the customer signs their paychecks. If your customer signed your check what would you produce? You would produce something that was valuable for the customer.
And I think that very subtly that’s the distinction between… I think it’s that shift in mindset that turned collateral into an e-book, turned a self-serving white paper into a piece of longer form piece of content that teaches somebody how to do something. I think it’s that slight pivot in thinking about who you serve. And if you shift from serving the executive to serving the buyer, good things happen.
Matt: I love that shift and thinking about who your actual audience is. Talking to Joe Chernov today on Sales Pipeline Radio. Joe is the head of marketing at Insight Squared. If you are trying to improve the reporting and improve the visibility into what’s working in marketing at your B2B marketing, you definitely need to check out InsightSquared. But Joe has been around the block on the content marketing front for a very long time. And he mentioned Joe Pulizzi, Joe I know you were out at Content Marketing World a couple weeks ago and the number of people that are at that conference has exploded and I think it’s very much in parallel with just the number of companies that are doing content marketing now.
Is there a concern that we are flooding the world with content that there are so many people doing content marketing now that it’s no longer going to work and/or are there certain tenets that you recommend that can help people continue to drive real value and results out of their content efforts?
Joe: Well it’s a mouthful. I remember reading an essay about 15 years ago written by a filmmaker Robert Altman. And he was telling a story about how he was with a friend and they were on a boat and it’s late at night, the moon was shining on the ocean and he looks and as far as he can see there is water. And he said look at all that water to his friend and his friend to him – and that’s only the surface.
I think that there is more and more content marketing happening yes, and that makes it more and more difficult for a signal to be heard and that’s only the surface. If you read some of the reports out there, more than 50% of companies’ content goes on used and there are companies that exist to unlock that untapped 50% and that’s what’s below the surface. Overnight we could have a dramatic surge in the amount of content that’s out there if some of these companies are successful, I wish them well but there are repercussions for everyone because it’s just going to get even more difficult to have your signal heard. And so I think it puts more pressure on originality.
It makes me a little crazy but I see companies publishing a definitive guide e-book when I know that Jon Miller and Maria Pergolino were doing those in 2009. I think that we rested on our laurels a little bit. So I think that originality coupled with really smart distribution and data backed decisions, that’s going to be the only way to break through.
Matt: I would agree with you on that. I think definitive guides, white papers, webinars, we tend to lean back on some of the same formats. I think a lot of people, when they think about content they think about the written word. Talk about some of the ways that people do differentiate around that. Is it related to the approach they take with the content?
At Heinz Marketing, we’ve been very written word-based over the last eight months or so, we’ve been doing this radio show and podcast so what are the ways you’re seeing good companies including if you will to share some of the things you might be doing at InsightSquared, to differentiate and diversify what you’re doing so that it does stand out as something unique?
Joe: So I’ll talk a little bit about what we’re doing. What we are trying to do is apply some of the ethos that makes for good content marketing and that is largely shifting your thinking from serving your organization to serving your buyer and we are trying to apply that to direct mail for example.
So rather than send a coffee mug with a logo on it or a T-shirt with the logo on it, we are trying to do things that are little bit more original. My sense is if you send a T-shirt with a logo on it and the deal is squared, like the person gets the T-shirt in exchange for wearing your logo. There is nothing left to do there. What we are trying to do is we have a campaign that if we close lose you; that is if you went through a demo, you went through a sales process but for whatever reason you didn’t buy the product, we know that the next time you come back into our funnel you are twice as likely to buy versus the first time you were through. So what we try to do is accelerate them coming back.
One campaign we are running is if you are close lost and we can start to reengage you, we include you in a campaign where we send you a postcard that reads “come running back.” And on the back of the postcard there is a link to a landing page where you enter your shoe size. And we send you a pair of Nike ID sneakers in InsightSquared color scheme. There is no InsightSquared logo on them, the deal is not square. If we made them wear sneakers without our logo, we can’t guilt them into the follow-up sales call. But if they get them without a logo, I’ve joked that it’s sort of like Jewish mother marketing. There’s this kind of guilt expectation that they’ve got to take the call from them and it works really, really well.
Matt: Like we are saying before, everything the lights touches is marketing and I love the way that you are integrating in content into other campaigns. There is no reason content marketing needs to be its own separate division and you’ve got direct mail and you’ve got sales and if other people doing stuff elsewhere. I want to talk a lot more, we’ve got a lot more with Joe Chernov who is the head of marketing at Insight Squared in his godfather, definitely one of the pioneers in B2B content marketing. We’ll talk more about what’s happening in content today, how that’s integrating across other channels including the sales organization and then what it’s going to mean moving forward. Thanks very much for joining us, will be right back on Sales Pipeline.
Paul: And now back to Matt and his guest!
Matt: Well you really learn a lot Paul about people just by reading their LinkedIn bios. I am doing an event later today and part of it is moderating a panel and just reading through profiles you learn about…
One of our panelists won an Emmy for some interactive content, another panelists has literally been to 95 countries and that’s a lot of countries. Just during the commercial break, just flipping through Joe your bio here as well and all kinds of things we get if we don’t want to talk about content, let’s talk about boxing, we could talk about criminal justice. Someone on your bio actually describes you as the Kevin Bacon of B2B content marketing which is fascinating. So we’re going to get back to Joe here in a second.
And then the week after that once we get back from Dream Force we’ve got Jamie Shanks who is one of the founders and leaders of the social sales movement and has just published a new book – Social Selling Mastery which is really well done and it is probably the best job I’ve seen integrating social selling in with the broader sales strategy and sales process that your sales organization may be using.
But back to Joe, let’s talk about sales a little bit. I think the opportunity to leverage content the right content created by organizations beyond just the top of the funnel, beyond just marketing channels is significant. What are some of your best practices for leveraging good content through the sales organizations and through the active sales process?
Joe: My number one rule hasn’t changed since 2009 and that is in your best content ideas come from your frontlines and that’s your salespeople. Whether it’s top of funnel content or bottom of funnel content, conversations with sales particularly like BDR’s and AE’s, it doesn’t have to be sales leadership, it probably shouldn’t be sales leadership. That’s where you’re going to be sourcing your best ideas. And so we’ve taken that to another level here at Insight Squared and here’s what we are doing.
Our blog, we treat our blog like a magazine. And so twice a month we publish “issue” of our blog and that means we have three, four, five articles all on a similar concept and so there is a thematic consistency to each issue. And while search led to us going down that path, it turns out sales enablement is where we are headed out along.
And so what we do to determine our issues now is we talk to sales and each month our BDR’s have a different theme that they pursue. And so we know that theme is coming up in the next month and as we write the next month’s issue of our blog, all of our articles are consistent with whatever that sales theme is going to be so the BDR’s always have a refresh and relevant and timely content. So if they are talking about Dream Force and that’s the current issue, now they have three, four, five Dream Force related pieces to use in their outreach and so why separate them? Our blog is both one to many and one-to-one.
Matt: I think it’s the first time I’ve heard sales organizations that basically has an editorial calendar. And this isn’t necessarily that your content strategy and your messaging strategy doesn’t need to be marketing to sales and if sales has a sense for what their themes are, those aren’t reasons why marketing can’t tie into that as well. It seems like the central requirement for all of that to make sure you’re on the same page is really personas. Can you talk a little bit about how important personas are as a driving force behind good content marketing?
Joe: Yeah. I think personas are critical. We have four of them. And what they are effective at doing is… The blank page is very intimidating and what they tend to do is help reduce the size of your universe and as a writer, as a content creator, having that smaller universe to work in is actually a luxury because you don’t have to think of everyone, you only have to think of one or in this case 1×4, right? Because we are for persona.
Now I also see however persona, people can get carried away with persona. I worked at a company where we were very militant about persona right down to the persona had names and they had specific universities that they went to and they had a requisite number of… identified number of children.
And there would be arguments where one person would say I’ll just make up a name that’s not one of the real persona names but let’s just say it’s Susie Seller. And they would say Susie Seller wouldn’t say that and somebody else would say do you know where Susie Seller went to college? And at a certain point I have to pop the balloon and say wait, Susie Seller is a construct. All I was trying to do is help us focus on a particular role in an organization. But beyond that I think we are getting a little bit carried away. So I found that at a certain point it became less constructive. That said, the concept of having persona is liberating if you are trying to sit down and produce content.
Matt: Talking today with Joe Chernov who runs marketing at InsightSquared but has been a leader in B2B marketing for a long time, a start up advisor. If you’ve never seen Joe speak you’ve got to find a conference where he’s at. He’s too modest to say this about himself but he’s one of the most well spoken, well prepared speakers on the B2B marketing circuit that I’ve seen.
And before Joe, before we start talking more about your favorite KISS songs, I’m just curious, as you go into next year, what are recommendations you’d have for companies that… The stats I’ve seen; 84% of companies have increased their spending on content, I think something like half of that 84% intend to spend a lot more, substantially more of their budget on content marketing and yet two thirds of those companies have a hard time comparing their content metrics to their business metrics. I realize that’s a very hard thing to do but what are the best ways you’ve seen for companies to justify and to measure the impact content is having on metrics that the business cares about overall?
Joe: Yeah, that’s a very timely question given that we are moving into 2017 planning right now and having those conversations right now. I believe that the very best way to go about shining a light on the value of your content marketing is to look at lead quality. Our leads sourced through content channels, that is whether it’s an e-book download, whether it’s a blog subscriber, however you want to identify a transactional content success, look at that cohort of leads and compare them to other lead sources.
And I could confidently say they are going to be of a higher value. And now and by higher value I mean they are more likely to matriculate their way down through the funnel. And so you can look at it as the big close, that’s sort of the most black-and-white but you can also seem to say they’ve moved down subsequent sales, they moved deeper down into the funnel there than other sources. If they are moving deeper into the funnel it means you are getting quality at best and the hits are going to come. So I think if I had to pick one it would be lead quality.
Matt: Awesome, you and I think tracking and accountability is becoming more and more complicated. Let’s not pretend our particular blog post or white papers actually generating the 6 or 7 figure sale. But there is clearly evidence that a content program, if given the time to build and mature, is creating velocity and efficiency at so many different levels of the pipeline, it’s pretty incredible.
Okay so I promised, I set you up earlier, I’ve got to let you follow up on it. Favorite KISS song and why?
Joe: I missed that I’m sorry, it’s a little broken up. Could you try again?
Matt: Favorite KISS song.
Joe: Favorite KISS song?
Joe: Yeah, I just took my son to… We just went to see KISS a few weeks ago. And I think my favorite KISS song is Deuce. And I actually read an article about the making of Deuce and apparently Gene Simmons wrote it on a bus one day and all these people speculate as to what it’s about and he said it’s about absolutely nothing, I just wrote it on a bus ride and I think it’s the best song.
Matt: That’s awesome. What’s funny is I asked that question and Paul perked up on the other side here I think for Paul is definitely Detroit Rock City which is also I think a solid choice. All right, we’ll let you off the hook Joe.
Thank you so much, very much appreciate our guest today Joe Chernov who is the VP of marketing at Insight Squared, the Godfather, the Kevin Bacon, one of the real innovators of B2B content marketing, so excited to have them here.
If you want to hear more from Joe, if you would like to hear a replay of this podcast or to share this with other people on your team, you can definitely find that at www.salespipelineradio.com. Definitely subscribe to our podcast as well at Google Play and the iTunes Store to get immediate access to every new episode.
Of course we’re always here live every Thursday at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific and we will see you next week. Got a great set of guests coming up. We will be heading down to Dream Force here in a couple of weeks doing this show live from the show floor and looking forward to seeing you there. If you are going to be there definitely look us up, we will be out and about. In the meantime, this is Matt Heinz, thank you very much for joining us. This has been sales pipeline radio.
Paul: Yes sir, you’ve been listening to the Sales Pipeline Radio show with Matt Heinz from Heinz Marketing right here on the Funnel Radio Channel.