Strategic Narratives, Failing Fast, And Dedicated Resources | Jason Widup + Mark Huber @

April 23, 2024

Episode Description

In today's episode we sat down with Metadata's VP of Marketing, Jason Widup, and Director of Growth, Mark Huber to chat in depth about their framework for crafting their strategic narrative, the benefits of failing fast, and how a team of 2 gets more done than a marketing team of 80+. Jason and Mark are transparent about their strengths, and even their weaknesses and provide tons of actionable insight you could leverage in your org today.

Show Notes

Jason Widup:

Mark Huber:

2021 Benchmark Report:

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About Demand Gen Chat

Demand Gen Chat is a Chili Piper podcast hosted by Kaylee Edmondson. Join us as we sit down with leaders in marketing to discover the key to driving B2B revenue. If you want benchmarks or insights on trends in the market, this podcast is for you!

Episode Transcript

Kaylee Edmondson: All right. Well, welcome back everybody. To another episode of demand gen chat today, we are so thankful to be joined by Jason Widup, Who's the VP of marketing over at metadata and Mark Huber, who is the director of growth. So welcome guys.

Jason Widup: Hey Kaylee, thanks for having us on.

Kaylee Edmondson: Absolutely.

Mark Huber: thanks for having us Kaylee.

Kaylee Edmondson: So Jason, let's start with you.

Can you walk us through a little bit about yourself, where you've been and how your career landed you here at metadata?

Jason Widup: Yeah, so I, I've been here for coming up on a year and a half, or, sorry, coming up on two years in September. Um, It's my first true high-growth startup. Uh, I've worked at, I've worked at small companies, but not high-growth B2B SaaS companies.

Um, my background has been in marketing analytics, operations at much larger companies. And so like Tableau and Getty images and Workfront, um, and a couple of other places where I, you know, basically led ops teams. And so, I Started as an analyst, um, kind of morphed into operations. And then this is my first time running, like the full marketing suite.

So there's a lot of things that, like when mark and I were talking about, I'm like never done this before ever like a basic event. Like now what's an event, [Laughing] So, I'm learning as I go too.

Kaylee Edmondson: So mark, how do you assist How do you land here? What's your background

Mark Huber: so I started out in consulting, uh, moved over to work for a marketing agency, like a mid-sized marketing agency.

That was my first foray in the startup. world. Uh, I've worked at two different startups, uh, prior to working at metadata. And I actually was a metadata customer at my last company. And when I started using the product, I was like, what is this thing How Do more people not know about this. Uh, Jason, ironically um, in the cab said that they were going to be hiring for a marketer and they were looking for referrals and long story short I'm here.

And thankfully it worked out

Jason Widup: if he was smart, If he was, like a smarter I'm just kid-... a smarter marketer, he wouldn't have accepted. you know? And, like, No, he didn't know what he was getting into. No, but Honestly, his, his candidate experience had to be one of the worst. Like he actually, if I remember this. right... Didn't somebody tell you, like no? that it's like Jason was giving the job to somebody else, even like in the middle of it

Kaylee Edmondson: No.

Jason Widup: ...or something like that.

I mean,

Mark Huber: Yeah.

Jason Widup: it was just like, it was horrible. It was like, I felt so bad.

Mark Huber: Yeah.

Jason Widup: I was like, [laughing] thank God. He's actually still excited and willing to join. Cause if, have I had, I been through that I'd have been Like, what the hell's wrong with these guys? Like, what is, do they know what they want? do they, [Laughing] so no, it was, it was... he was, patient, and it was good. It was a good thing.

Kaylee Edmondson: wait.

So somebody rejected you and mark, you were like, don't worry. I'm still here. Just waiting.

Mark Huber: Yeah, kind of, that might be another podcast episode.

Kaylee Edmondson: Okay, Okay. We can do a separate one on HR hiring process.

Jason Widup: So, Yeah. That's the sign of a Truly dedicated. person.

Kaylee Edmondson: [Laughing] Yeah, yeah.

Jason Widup: Truly dedicated [laughing]. He knew he, he knew what he wanted. He knew what he wanted

Kaylee Edmondson: and for anybody that's listening. I, um, obviously we, uh, we at Chili Piper, are a customer of metadata's as well.

So I'm very familiar with Jason and mark. both, Um, as well as their product and what it can do for marketers, which is all the more reason why I wanted to have them on, um, to help share a little bit about, more about metadata specifically, but how you guys are running marketing for metadata as well. So I know that you guys in the last what, six months or so, have been doing a lot of work around your overall messaging and positioning and has landed in this larger form of a strategic narrative for your company, your vision, your values, etc. Can you talk us through. I guess a little bit more about metadata first, what you guys are and the pain points you saw for demand gen marketers. And then how that morphed into this brainwork for, um, repositioning your messaging.

Jason Widup: We, um, we're a B2B marketing platform, demand generation platform. Um, the way we like to talk about it is we help marketers get closer to revenue, but that's, you know, that's kind of what we say.

Um, what we do, we really help with audience targeting like laser targeting, uh, campaign automation and experimentation. To revenue and then lead enrichment kind of on the backend, uh, helping you understand who your best customers are. Um, so mark did a lot better job at explaining it on our website.

So just commenting what's on our website. Um, I'll say something and I'll turn it over to mark. Just kind of I'll frame it up, you know, from when I started at metadata, like my idea was I want our marketing to be. The kind of marketing that I would have. wa-... So as an ops leader, I was the buyer. I was like the recipient, of a lot of these like outreaches and marketing and etc., And I quickly realized like what I don't like.

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: And it was a lot of the things that were, that are like inauthentic or just like, Because, as a marketer you can really see through those things. And when I did like or the companies, you know, and a lot of the buying that I did, didn't come from. Like seeing an ad being so compelled by that ad to click through being so compelled by the website that I signed up, you know what I mean, for a demo and then being so compelled by the demo that I became a customer, every software purchase that I made had some other element associated with it.

I either heard about it from somebody else. Heard about it on a podcast friend, used it, colleague used it, I've used it in a past life, you know, at a different company. There's all these just things that go into it, that aren't these digital, like, a-, you know, activities and signups and things. And so, and wanting to build a relationship with people and being a trusted authority.

And that's what it, what really, what I saw with companies that I did a lot of business with, is they had a perspective on things they were different, They did a really good job at offering really good content that was helpful without any kind of like no-strings attached. You know, I could tell that they're they just, they were so good at what they did.

They just wanted to make other people better at it as well. And then just kind of like authen- authentic, like they were really authentic who they were good with, who they weren't good with. or goo- good for. And that's what I really wanted. That's how I wanted metadata's marketing to come across. I wanted us to be.

like, That nerdy kid in college, that like, was funny and witty, you know, but still very much a nerd, but they knew what they were good at. They were an expert in some things, they could still be funny. A little self-deprecating, people still wanted to hang out with them, came to them, you know, like trusted them when they needed certain things.

Like that's who I wanted metadata. to be. And so Mark's really kind of, and I just teed up for Mark A. Little bit, you know, when it comes to like the messaging and positioning and how we've really started to mold that that's I think that was the starting frame.

Kaylee Edmondson: I hope that you wrote that up in an official document to mark, trying to explain to him that we need to become the nerdy kid at the lunch table.

And then mark just like, took it and ran

Jason Widup: it was actually in a document.

Mark Huber: It actually, it actually is in a doc. Yeah. [laughing].

Jason Widup: One of the first docs I wrote. Yeah. Yep.

Mark Huber: The one thing that I would add to what Jason said. is, If you were to look at our old website, you know, towards the end of last year, what was on there, it wasn't wrong.

But the messaging itself was very tech um, specific and it was very inwardly focused on us as metadata. And what we tried to do going through this entire process was just making it more about the people who use metadata, uh, and how it speaks to them, not how it speaks to us. So, uh, it was to easy. And then I think the other thing, and we'll probably talk about uh, this more here.

in a bit... Uh, we originally just wanted to start with the website and then go from there. And if we would have started with the website first, before we actually knew how we should be talking about ourselves, uh, we would have totally messed this up. So thankfully we did not start with the website. We started with the positioning.

And the messaging first.

Kaylee Edmondson: And so when you were coming in and you had fresh new eyes coming from a different org, joining the metadata. camp, W was it something that you picked up on and noticed, that, oh, the website is talking all about us. It needs to be repositioned. Was this feedback you were getting from your customers? Like what kind of sparked this kickoff for this massive project?

Mark Huber: Yeah. So it took mostly me annoying Jason saying, Hey, I think we need to re revisit this. And I think once I annoyed him enough. That's when he finally said, all right, like, stop annoying me, go work on this. Uh, but for me it was more so just thinking about how our end users Talk about the platform and how it makes their lives easier.

And that wasn't reflected on the website.

Jason Widup: And I had, I had like a, I had a different, so the hard part for me was I had just got done with what I thought was a redesign of the website. You know what I mean?

Kaylee Edmondson: Oh no.

Jason Widup: So I'd gone through by myself, you know, and working with like a couple of, and so I was like, oh, we're, you know, it's gonna... Like, no. like, why would we have to do this?

It's been less than a year. It was. a pretty Big change, but mostly design there and that's, and I think that's why I was having a hard time agreeing to it. At first it was like, well, we just went through this, but what I didn't understand is like most of the change really needed to be from a messaging and positioning standpoint and then supported with like the design part of it.

You know, like the design had to support that. Um, And I'm a very technical person too.

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: ...So like I have a hard time, like when I see tech I'm like, well, yes, it's right. You know what I mean? Like, yes, it's, it's, it's correct. Um, and man, like I read something that I write and then mark fixes it. I'm just like, oh, I can't, I can't do it.

You know, it's just like, it's a, it's a, it's a skill I don't have. And, um-

Mark Huber: He gets me all. the facts that I need.

Jason Widup: ... but Now. I know now that I know now I know I don't have it though. You know what I mean? So now that I know I don't have it, I also told mark I'd like to work on it, but now I know I don't have it, so I don't have to go through any cycles in the begin-... you know what I mean? of thinking is this right or not?

I can just write it the way I think about it. And then like, "Yeah, he can fix it."

Kaylee Edmondson: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So Marks' your fixer that's no, that's, everybody needs a fixer. I am not a copywriter either. Uh, We have a really great director of content here that I worked with in a former life and loved her so much that I tried to recruit her to come here and now she joined, which is great.

Um, because I always just say, like, I'm not the words, person, like words are not my friend. [Laughing] Um, and thankfully words are her friend. so I think that's a, that's a good partnership to have.

Jason Widup: Yes.

Kaylee Edmondson: ... for sure. But mark, when you're looking at this and Jason's giving you the facts and you're like, "Uh, okay, cool. What is your actual like tactical process?

for saying we have this huge like, behemoth of a project in front of us. This is like all the things I need to do, or like the order of operations behind, like getting some of these things done accomplished, changed, etc.?

Mark Huber: Uh, that is a very good question. I would say. It's not to over-plan from the get-go, but it's to have some sense of plan and then be aware of the fact that you're gonna probably correct this plan very quickly.

So we put together an initial plan. And then I think what we started with first was I met with as many different, um, people along kind of the spectrum that I'll explain here in a sec of longtime customers, new customers. uh, Prospects that are in pipeline, uh, late-stage pipeline, uh, early-stage pipeline, B2B marketers in my network, and then uh, a very cold audience that we tested on a site called and trying to see just how they are talking about the platform and their own words, uh, from one end of the spectrum, all the way to the other end of the spectrum.

And from there, it, we started to identify what were kind of the common threads that people were talking about. consistently, And once you start to see those things coming up, you know, multiple times, then it's like, Hey, we might be onto something here. Let's continue to explore that. So it was open-end... It was like structured in a way, but it was like, very open-ended to start.

And then once we figured out where we wanted to take it, that's when we. kind of Really got specific on how the plan needed to change and how to get there quickly.

Kaylee Edmondson: Yeah, no, I love that too. and the fact about it being open-ended I think that normally marketers are very risk-averse when it comes to open-ended surveys or open-ended questions because it's harder to analyze.

It's like more manual labor for you on the back end, to compile and like resort that into actual trends. Um, but it's so much more telling when you just, you know, kind of tee it up and then don't say much of anything. else. Leave the ball in their court and let them fill in the blanks because it's uh, very telling what they say versus what you think they should say.

Um, it's almost never what you're thinking.

Mark Huber: Like we started, uh, like an internal product marketing doc of like, before we went through this entire process, what we thought it was going to be, or kind of what I thought it was gonna be. And Jason added some feedback and we were like, all right, you know, I'm sure this is what it's gonna end up.

as." Shocker. It did not end up like that. So we wouldn't have got there without actually talking to uh, customers. And prospects.

Kaylee Edmondson: And then, how do you keep this process going? Right. So you've just done this like major overhaul. How do you continue to innovate and adapt your messaging as the market shifts? Right. I think all markets are probably ever-evolving, but for some reason, maybe I'm biased.

I think ours is like hyper-evolving, like two times the speed of anything. else. Um, and so staying relevant and staying innovative has, like, gotta be a part of your mix. Right?

Mark Huber: Yeah. And that's the other thing is that it's always a moving target. So even though we went through this whole messaging you know, exercise to say that we're done, or don't have to worry about it for, six months or 12 months is just being ignorant.

So I think for us, what we're trying to do is continue to talk with marketers uh, that are customers non-customers, and just see, you know, are the things that were huge pain points for them, you know, six months. ago, Are they still the biggest pain points now or are they changing? And and you know, we're moving up-market, So we know the messaging will change over time, but you just have to talk to a lot of people and see how is that change progressing.

Jason Widup: And that was an important part. I would say that was an important part for us to go through 'cause we have a technical founder, right?

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: So Gil is our founder, very technical.

And so, you know, a technical founder is going to. They're going to err towards what they would want to hear about a platform. You know what I mean? so what interests Gil about a different platform? Not ours are the specifics, you know, the metrics and like these kinds of things. And so the way that mark did this analysis, yes, it was like listening to calls and things, but it resulted in data still.

You know what I mean? So where we could like still present something and be pretty confident. that, Hey, if we make this shift in messaging, it's gonna resonate because we've had, we've heard enough people say it and we've kind of counted it. And it was a big exercise. Like, you know, we had to lis- listen, like literally listen to each of these calls. I don't know how you, how many you did, but I, yeah.

Mark Huber: Yeah.

Jason Widup: it was so valuable too, because I hadn't done enough of them nearly at all. And so I learned a lot of stuff. So, you know, mark could listen to, them, he's getting what he needs, but then he's also able to kind of summarize them and also kind of give me what I need.

Like the summary of these, without me having to spend all that time.

Kaylee Edmondson: Yeah, exactly. I think I got carried away on jumping into this narrative question and didn't even really, normally I start by asking, um, interviewees kind of what the depth and breadth of their roles are because this is a demand gen Chat podcast.

And normally I just interview directors of demand gen. Um, obviously that's neither of your titles. However, everything you're doing is very [inaudible 00:14:39] related to some of the things that other demand gen holders do. Um, but where, what I guess, I mean, obviously. you're A team of two, but still getting an incredible amount of work done in front of you.

How do you guys divide up your roles? Or like where does your lane stop? Cause it seems like your website, product research, like you're a little all over the place already. So I'm just curious to understand kind of your lanes or your roles.

Jason Widup: We do what we're good at.

Kaylee Edmondson: Sure.

Jason Widup: That's basically the that's, that's our starting point, you know what I mean?

Kaylee Edmondson: It does.

Jason Widup: And so, um, and I I've always said. I wanna be a practitioner leader, like, no, never do I wanna be the leader. That's just like, you know, telling everybody what they should do and not having a perspective on how it should get done mark over the last year. He's learned through either me telling him or him seeing things, what I'm good at, I've learned kind of the same thing.

And so what it's resulted in now is just, like basically every two weeks sprint planning.

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: And we basically just take a list of our priorities. What do you want to work on? What do I want to work on or have to, you know, and then we just go through them. Here's some new things. And usually a given project will need a little bit of both of ours.

So it's like, it's rare that Just he'll take a whole project or I'll take a whole project. It would be more common for him to take for mark to take over on a project and be able to do it less common for me to, again, 'cause if I'm writing anything, it, it's gonna go through mark. Um, and then also. like, Mark Holds the keys to creative in some areas as well.

Cause I'm not good at creative either. Um-

Mark Huber: you don't want Jason designing things, but I love him. [

Jason Widup: Laughing] No, no. no. Nope. You don't. You can get by with me writing things. You definitely don't want me designing things. That's for sure. I don't even know where to start. Like yeah. So, um, but then we ended up having like, some specific, you know, like, and as we started to get a little bit bigger, I'm happy to do more CMO-type things.

You know what I mean? Like parts start to become part of like communities, and too, And then even though it hurts me sometimes, like we're doing more customer marketing,

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: you know what I mean? So like having to bring in, like, we can't spend every dollar in acquisition, you know, trying to do some things. So I've been focused recently more on like short-term demand.

So like, as mark is building this content engine and this great website, it's getting more and more demand-driven through it. We still have these short-term needs. And so I've really been focused on that. I seem to be okay. You know, like and good at. kind of Drawing some of that, and I can use my title I know, I hate to say, I, sometimes I can use my title as VP of marketing here to bring other marketers in.

[laughing] You know what I mean? It's just easier than, a, maybe an outbound rep or a sales person, or mark, even as a director of growth, you know, so trying to leverage that as much as I can. Um, and I will say we're supported by like a lot of people, you know? like so we do have support. We have, um, a gentleman by the name of Jerome , Okutho, who's our ops person he's out of Canada, found him through Upwork.

Just amazing. Probably Spends 30 hours a week with us. Um, the folks at York IE, they're an investor in us, but also provide like PR and other marketing services, um, Al Gert, our designer, you know, and we're just starting to, now we're starting to partner with some new agencies too, to get some more support as well. Um, so it is a big, you know, it's the two of us, but it's like the six of us, you know, it's gonna, it's really gonna be, you know, probably four, four full-time equivalents, I'd say. Mark what did I miss in terms of how we break up work? I mean, mark ends up doing a lot more of the product stuff. You know, the things that really require that messaging and positioning. stuff.

Mark Huber: Yeah. I would say like, one of the big advantages that we have right now? And it's also gonna be the most difficult thing to maintain, but I, I know that we want to is the speed.

So it's very easy to go to one person being Jason, whenever we need to discuss something and make a decision really quickly. And I think that's why we've been able to get so much good stuff out into the. market. Now as we grow in team size and we're definitely growing, like we don't want to slow down. So how do you maintain that?

Like the short answer is I don't think we know just yet, but that's what we're gonna try and hold ourselves accountable. to, Um, is maintaining that speed and quality bar

Kaylee Edmondson: Yeah. You figure that out. You should come back on here. We'll do another episode because I think every startup wants to know that right. Growing pains, like everyone says that we have growing pains and I think it's because of this.

Right. Everyone loses that. Um, quick feedback loop and it's just like a super, Um, a super-powerful thing. And I think that like, if you've got that startup itch, it's part of it, right? It's what keeps you going back to like sign up for more startup problems It's like, you just want that speed. You want that ownership, that autonomy to just like own it and get it out the door, ship it, figure out results and innovate and move forward.

Jason Widup: That was one of my hardest problems at like the bigger companies I worked at was just the pace of

Kaylee Edmondson: Yes.

Jason Widup: ...things, So you know? like mark and I have been able to get out more. Content more campaigns with the two of us supported by a couple people. than I was able to get out than an entire I'll just call it out and, No, I won't. [

Mark Huber: Laughing] I was wondering if you were gonna do that.

Jason Widup: Then, One of the three previous companies I worked at, like that had 80 marketers, you know, 80 marketers. And the problem is all these and especially the culture at that. place, Like all of these just routes of approval,

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: approval decision. Like it just got hung up in there.

Like we had enough people to do way more than we're doing now, but oh my goodness. Like, I can't tell you. And I would just get physically upset, you know? I mean, not in front of people, but I would be like, really just like how I just couldn't I just couldn't do it anymore. You know, I just got to the point where I was just like, I just can't.

And you you also mentioned something else, like being able to see the impact of the things that you're doing. Like the, when you're working at a big organization, sometimes it's really hard to. like... So when I pull this lever, five dollars comes out of the back end. You know, like you don't really know what you're, you pulling that lever is doing, you know?

And so even in a growth role at a small startup, like almost everything you do. Either has an im-... has some kind of impact, you know,

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: ...good or bad, but you could tell, and you could tell fast and iterate on that fast. And then well, it's kind of the right, right. thing for you.

Kaylee Edmondson: Yeah. Absolutely. My quick ah-ha... I want your hot takes from maybe both of you or maybe you collectively share the same, um, thoughts around in-house versus agency.

It seems like you guys are, um, pro-agency, but I want like your hot take on why or like, at what point in your growth, maybe that will shift.

Jason Widup: This is how you know it was not rehearsed. So we'll see how close we are in agreement here. Um, having worked at an agency before, and then, you know, having worked at three different software companies since, uh, it's easy to see why you don't wanna go crazy about hiring people when there's so much uncertainty about the trajectory in the company.

So I've been at companies where we hired way too quickly. Uh, we hired ahead of where the market was and then had to go through rounds of layoffs. And that sucked as an employee. And I know that for our leaders, it also sucked, as well. So the flip side of that is, you know, working with agencies, it's much easier to, um, you know, break up with an agency when you say, Hey, you know, we're just not at a point, you know, where we can continue working.

Sometimes it's a 30-day out, sometimes it's a 60-day out, but that's a much easier decision to make than having to, you know, let people go.

Mark Huber: Yeah, I would pile on that. Like, um, I. am a fan of agencies and not at the same time, you know? So like, there's definitely a place for agencies we're in that place right now.

Um, because we're growing fast and, and I wanna push that gas as fast as we can, but not to the point where we're hurting people. You know what I mean? We're like hurting people's lives and that's like, when it comes into like hire or fire, like I'm not about that. I'd rather prove out that we need that position.

first, Through agency or freelance and then roll it in once we've proven it. And once we've grown big enough. Um, the other thing too is we're only partnering with agencies that like are top-class. you know, what I mean? So, like, we're, we're not looking to save money by, you know what I mean? Like it's not like let's, let's find the cheapest resource we can to do this work.

It's where's the highest quality," And it has to be agencies that believe in the same thing that we believe in first and foremost. So like we first start there, like, do you believe in the way we're doing marketing? And can you supp-, how can you support us in that? And then it has to be agencies that can take a Corpus of work and get it done without having to a- ask mark and I all the time.

Like, what about this? What about this? Direct me on this direct me on this So, they've gotta be like people that we would hire basically internally. Now the thing I look out for in agencies is this is all I've never seen this not happen, except, Honestly by agency York, they're doing a really good job on this. Usually it's like this, you get all kinds of attention and all kinds of like great work and then just fucking, just "Whoo." and then all of a sudden they think they put, you on autopilot.

They think that they're in. the, just like, all the... like, no, that will not work. So, Hey agencies starting to work with us, I'm going to send you this podcast so you can listen to it. [Laughing] So don't fizzle out at any point or else. We'll be done. like, you've gotta have constantly new ideas constantly. like, Figure it thinking that this is your company to grow.

I just uh, haven't seen it yet again, York actually is doing a pretty good job, Kate, nice job. Keeping the, the gas going, but I have rarely seen like agencies really keep the gas going that long. So I'm hoping, I'm hoping to see different Diff- different with the ones we're partnering with.

Jason Widup: The the one thing that I would add is I think there are things that I'm more comfortable letting agencies.

do, And oftentimes that's the, the, those are the types of things that may not require a total understanding of the business, uh, because when you're leaning on agencies to do things that require like a really solid understanding of the business, I'd rather have that position in-house.

Kaylee Edmondson: Yeah. No, that's a great point too.

Mark Huber: Yeah. There's definitely roles where you need that. You want that Knowledge, you know what I mean? That they just get just to to stay in the company and not to. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

Kaylee Edmondson: Yeah. I agree with that. And I think those positions might even shift a little bit per company, but I could definitely agree with that.

Like there's certain things here too, that we would just never even consider outsourcing because it just needs to be owned in-house. It makes so much more sense uh, barbecues you have to be tied to the product or like our product is constantly being updated or changes or tweaks or whatever. And so it's like being closer to that feedback loop.

It's just More critical than trying to use with outsourcing

Mark Huber: Like, con-, like, to get specific content is one of those things. We talk to big content agencies out there. Uh, we're having our third, uh, full-time hire join us in a couple weeks here. Who's going to be our our head of content. And that is not something that I would feel comfortable, you know, completely handing off to an agency just because I think it really does require an understanding of your business and your audience.

Kaylee Edmondson: Yeah, absolutely. No, I agree with that. I agree with that for sure. So we talk about. outsourcing. We talk about a little bit about metadata. Um, obviously you guys are running demand gen campaigns, so I would love to segue into campaigns. You all have run for yourself for your own business that you found success with.

And then. If you're willing and you'd like to be, what did you use, Jason earlier? You said self-deprecating, if you're willing if you'd like to be self-deprecating, which seems to be on-brand for you guys. I would love to also know about your failures as well. [

Mark Huber: Laughing] It is.

Kaylee Edmondson: For some campaigns you've run that maybe just like, didn't turn out as good as you thought they would.

Jason Widup: Like, and the one that pains me 'cause I keep talk-, I have, talked about it forever. is conversation ads. You know what I mean? Like conversation ads have just been like the tactic that is just above and beyond. Everything else we've run from a demand. Gen perspective has been the go-to. Now I will also say that because of the success of that campaign, we've dumped a lot of our money into it.

Like a big percent of our working budget. We've put into that campaign because of its unit economics and how it works out. So we haven't put a bunch of money behind other campaigns. So I'll just say conversation ads for an entire. like, Full bundle ad experience into a demo. Like it's just worked wonders for us.

We've tried other flavors, we've done a scavenger hunt conversation ad which was kind of fun, but you know, uh, a little bit less targeted. We we're doing one with you right now. Kaylee, we're trying to test that out. You know, what does it look like coming from the customers' perspective? So we're trying new things in conversation ads, but we've done a lot there.

We recently, and I'll I'll let mark talk about this one, but we've recently started. to Put money behind our content. So we finally like that was our plan all along is really took people to metadata through our content and, and not just solely relying on organic SEO to make that happen. Now I'll talk about a failure real quick.

It's a pretty basic one. Um, but I think it was very clear. Um, we, we ran gift card campaigns through conversation ads, right? So get a $100 gift card. If you take a demo you know, if you meet the qualification which you're in, take a demo with us. We tried to run that through two other channels that failed miserably.

We tried to run it just through a standard ad targeted, still to the same people. But you know, they stayed in their feed versus in a LinkedIn message. Like maybe that's the difference. It's not coming from a person it's coming from a company like some black box. we tried it in email too. And that one did come from a company, but didn't work out, you know?

So there was something about for that one, the combination of the offer and the medium, You know, that somehow really worked versus just the, it definitely wasn't just the offer that's for sure. So that was one of the failures. we learned.

Mark Huber: Yeah. I've got another failure on the offer front and and I think, uh, again, this is one that I came up with and I thought that it was at the time, one of the most creative offers that we had come up with and I was ready for this just to knock it out of the park and it tanked.

And that offer was, uh, a subscription, an annual subscription to uh, DGMG. So we ran it past him Dave Gerhardt was cool with it. I mean, it was free marketing for him at the end. of the day, Uh, and it failed miserably. I thought it was a very creative offer for our audience and we launched it and we looked at the data and it just did not land so.

Kaylee Edmondson: no way conversation ad, or was it in the feed?

Mark Huber: Well, we tried a... in the feed as well. Yeah, we did.

Jason Widup: That's right. That's right.

Mark Huber: Um, so yeah, so that was interesting, but also knowing that you're gonna, um, bomb, you know, with quite a few of these offers,

Jason Widup: Yeah.

Mark Huber: it's okay. Uh, as long as you're still finding, you know, good offers every now and then, and that's something that we're trying to figure out.

now, Uh, with our own platform of, you know, call it product-like growth, call it whatever you want. Like, what is some stripped-down, um, platform kind of add-on, if you will, that we can get people hooked in the door. Uh, so we'll see what comes of that, but that's kind of where our heads at. now.

Kaylee Edmondson: I'm very shocked. Um, I feel like I need to like pick up my jaw off the floor about the DGMG offering, being a total failure.

It goes to show, and I say this all the time, like internally, we also obviously are selling to People who have a similar title to myself and to the rest of us here on this call. And so I'll always say my opinion and I'm like, but sample size of one

Mark Huber: Yeah.

Kaylee Edmondson: It's just my opinion. So that's why I'm, like I say something and then I just back it up with my like, disclaimer that I'm like, I'm just one person.

Like I'm not speaking for the masses. So, um, we put together offers here too as well that uh, don't take off. And it's because. I am a sample size of one, right? Like I would have totally fallen for your DGMG offer, but the mass population did not agree.

Mark Huber: Thanks for not converting.

Jason Widup: Yeah, no.

Kaylee Edmondson: Right. I'm [inaudible 00:29:54] a customer Mark. You didn't serve me an ad [crosstalk 00:29:55].

Mark Huber: [Laughing] So I think the other thing that we are, I'd say somewhat of in a lucky spot to be in, but I would definitely advise other companies to do the same thing as we have a customer advisory board.

And what we do is for a lot of this, I mean, you know, this, um, Kaylee, from being. on it: We'll tease out things to that cab and get initial feedback. And, you know, there are times where we think we have a great idea and they see it and they're like, you know what? It's just not that strong. And that's great because we learned that without having to put any you know, dollars behind it and make that mistake in market.

So definitely would suggest anyone to kind of start up a CAB at their company.

Kaylee Edmondson: I would agree with that too. And I think the way that you guys run your cab is quite unique. Not that I've had an opportunity in my career to be on a handful of ads, because I definitely have it. Um, but I think it's like tight enough to where like we've talked about in other threads too, right?

Like your marketing feedback loop's really tight, but your cab is too where it's like a small group of really, really dedicated humans that believe in you guys and believe in your product, And that feedback loop is honest, but also quick so that you guys can get something of meaning or something of value and then just ship it or can it, if it's not going to work.

Jason Widup: Yeah.

Kaylee Edmondson: Followup question Jason, to a point that you made earlier about content running content in your ads.

Does this mean that you guys have not been running a content offer until now? You wanted to wait until like your content rea- reached a certain threshold or a certain quality before you started running that in your media mix?

Jason Widup: We would test, the, you know, we would do some. So like a big piece of content. We would definitely put some promotion behind.

So when we did our benchmark report earlier this year, that was a. big Content piece and then supported by a pretty big campaign.

Kaylee Edmondson: Yeah, talk about that. Talk about what that was and how you took it to market. 'cause I thought it was pretty brilliant.

Jason Widup: a software that helps behavior marketers do advertising. We had a lot of data, right. About how ads perform on Facebook and LinkedIn that all run through our platform.

And so. Um, what we were able to do is take our, all of our platforms, data, anonymize it from a customer's perspective, we turned the customer name into an industry sub-industry, number of employees, you know, like they'll, the enriched data, not a company, but not their name. Um, and just exposed all the data. I actually put it into a Google data senior report and just really gave it to everybody.

Ungated I think that was un-gated, yeah, I think. Was it mark? Yeah. Yeah. Most of it. It was rarely do we do something that's gated. but. Um, and it was, a real, I was a little nervous about that because you don't know like, what you want is you want that to be a lead gen activity as well, because you want people to look at it and say, wow, look at these other customers in my same industry.

And the CPOs or cost-per-opportunity, or opportunity size or whatever they're getting. Uh, but you also run the risk of somebody coming in and being like, well, wait, like these are in averages, you know what I mean? So I've got like outliers on both sides of the average It's not as good as I'm getting, but like in reality, we could really beat them.

Or not, you know, not them, but beat their average. And so it was a little risky, I don't, I don't know. Cause we don't gate our content.

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: I don't know. Like, do we have opportunities associated with it Were people downloading it and then coming in later? I don't know. But, um, but it got a lot of good press, you know, nobody had ever really released data like that.

And we plan on doing it, either answering interesting data points. Using our data licensing our data to companies that can make sense of you know, have, like maybe more resources that can make sense of it, and turn it into you know, other research reports,

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: you know, we're looking at other ways of, of using it. But, um, but yeah, so, but kind of coming back around on the content side, that was the kind of content we promoted before now.

We're actually putting money behind even just like blog posts or that mainly blog posts, you know? So we've got this expert content series that Mark's worked on called no fluffs. Given", And we've had like experts in their fields. You know what I mean? Like come and write about what they're experts on. and on RBF we put it on our website and ungated, but really popular and really useful stuff.

And so we promote that stuff. And really the intention is if our potential buyers are out there seeing our ads about content, that's going to help them again. We're building our relationship. We're building the trust. We're Aiming for a seat at the table.

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: We're not aiming for you to see that content and be like, oh wow.

They have an interesting perspective on gating content. Let's buy their software, but they haven an interesting perspective on gaining content. Oh, they're smart. You know? Oh, I see. They have an interesting perspective on attribution on, oh, they're actually helping me. They're a demand gen company, but they're helping me with product marketing.

You know, they're helping me write better headlines, you know, like who are these people? And then for that to just kind of seed in the mind, With enough, like sprinkling of who we are.

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: ...So it's not just like, oh, these guys are a media company, like helping B2B marketers, but like sprinkling who we are and what we do.

And then when it's like, oh, you know, what? I'm I'm not, I'm not making my demand gen goals or like, I'm just unhappy with the way that demand base is working. pew.

Kaylee Edmondson: Well, This is getting bold.

Jason Widup: They come to us. And now all of a sudden we see organic demo [inaudible 00:35:02] from the website rise that we can't attribute to anything else.

And so that's really what we're looking for.

Mark Huber: I mean, this came up last Friday, Um, a senior director of demand gen at uh, a series B company that everybody listening would recognize told me, you guys have the first blog that I've seen that helps with tactical things that I can do to run better campaigns.

And he was interested in picking up, you know, conversational kind of data.

Kaylee Edmondson: Exactly.

Mark Huber: So, That happens over time is building relationships. He's the exact kind of person that we would, you know, we see could benefit from using metadata

Kaylee Edmondson: and what he reached out and pinged you like on LinkedIn or something random. Right.

Mark Huber: Yep, yep.

Kaylee Edmondson: Which always happens. Right. so then you have like these random screenshots you've taken from people right around the internet that, have, like right, that will never show up in Salesforce

Mark Huber: That would never show up in the Salesforce report, yeah.

Kaylee Edmondson: ...where you're like, look, this thing is working and here's these random five screenshots that prove

Mark Huber: Yeah.

Kaylee Edmondson: "...that it's working.

and that's, like, Our new form of attribution that CFOs do not care about.

Mark Huber: Yep.

Kaylee Edmondson: Um, we don't have a CFO, so I can say that like CFOs do not care to see your random screenshots. [

Mark Huber: Laughing] Yeah.

Kaylee Edmondson: Um, however, that's like what, you know, is working.

Jason Widup: But I think, like how we've done it is. We use those as the leading indicators whenever we're feeling unsure that, Hey, we're seeing these things, uh, these comments from people that are really, really positive, That's when the light bulb goes on for us that, Hey, you should double down on this and continue doing it so that you can then start to prove it out quantitatively.

'Cause, like it takes time and you're not able to prove it out quantitatively. Right? away.

Kaylee Edmondson: Exactly. Exactly. And I think too, that like, um, Sometimes hearing radio silence is also very telling we've done that a few times. where we launched something and it's like, oh, wow. normally I get a couple likes, like three likes, maybe and then this, this post did, didn't take off.

Jason Widup: Yeah.

Kaylee Edmondson: So no one cares about what we're saying. Cool. Check that off the radar. Like we don't need our... You know, sometimes we start on LinkedIn, specifically, organic LinkedIn, we'll try something right. testing the market. that way. If it gets a lot of buzz and reception shares, comments, whatever, and like strikes good conversations then cool.

Like maybe we should turn this into something greater, do a blog post around it, etc. Or if it sits there in radio silence, no one likes it. And it's like not showing up in anyone's feed, then it's like, cool. cool. Maybe we save some time and reallocate resources elsewhere. Um, because obviously that's not a pain point for anybody.

Um, but back to you all's point about, um, Putting things out on the market as well. It's like they say that um, only 1% or whatever of your actual tan is in buying mode at any time. So it's obvi-... it seems very obvious, like why isn't everyone marketing this way? Um, but I think it all goes back to like attribution.

Jason Widup: They have specific goals and that's the only way that they can really measure them. You know what I mean is, yeah. And so if they don't gate the content. I mean, there's, There's just a transition period.

Kaylee Edmondson: Yep.

Jason Widup: You know what I mean? There's a transition period from like doing the old-school way of gate- gating the content, getting the leads, seeing how it matriculates down, seeing these really low percentages.

But There's this faith-based period. know what I mean of like, and I've seen it-

Mark Huber: It requires trust in your

Kaylee Edmondson: Yes.

Mark Huber: ...CEO to trust face it.

Jason Widup: I think, yeah, and faith, you know, and some amount of faith because you're basically saying, yeah, we're going from this whole way of like capturing the lead and seeing how it goes through and the percentages, etc., But we're gonna do, we're gonna get less. In the top of the funnel we're not gonna know where they all come from you know what I mean?

Kaylee Edmondson: Right. they're all gonna be, they're all gonna be organic or direct. So like good luck they are though.

Jason Widup: Yep.

Kaylee Edmondson: Like that is exactly it. Right?

Jason Widup: Yep, Yep.

Kaylee Edmondson: And your actual

Jason Widup: yeah.

Kaylee Edmondson: top-line number is gonna go.


Jason Widup: Yeah. But you've gotta get through that. There's like that. because then at the other side of it, once you make it through it, then it's like, God, yes. Like this is okay, this is the right, the right kind of leads coming through the right channels. But most of the time. They don't make. And also here's the other part they talk about a lot, the sales org has actually been overstaffed for this kind of motion.

And so it becomes this like, you know, almost like you have to fire salespeople to move into this other better natural motion because in the previous one, sales is doing a lot of the marketing. you know, you're just getting a name of somebody and then you're handing it over. And then sales is sending them content and they're giving them this and they're asking them questions and they're doing your job for you.

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Jason Widup: So when you move away from that you're like, well, I wanna give you better leads, but you're overstaffed for it. It's just a hard ki-... It's like a, it's an impossible conversation. because then the marketer who's trying to work with the head of sales. who's a type, a usually like very strong personality, like, Hey, maybe too many salespeople on your team.

No, I don't show me that. You know, like, and then it's a chicken-egg thing, show me, you're gonna give me better leads first. And I guess you could do that. But then salespeople are like, well, we're not doing enough activities," And then, so it's just this interesting, like biological entity, you know, that makes it harder to shift away, but you gotta do it you gotta go through a couple sales cycles, you know, of time.

And then if it doesn't work, you know, the, the people studying... the thing that people get worried about. And I've sat through this too, is that if I focus on this other way and I leave this other one alone, six months later, I'm not gonna have any of this and we're gonna be you know, even worse situation.

I just have, I don't think that's, I don't think that's the case. You're in a worse situ-... you're in like the worst situation now, you know? And so, you know, now you can only get better.

Kaylee Edmondson: all right, Jason, with the motivational speaking, mark, do you have thoughts on that too?

Mark Huber: I would say, Like one thing is, and it's not to say like everything is all, you know, rainbows and sunshine here, as it relates to, you know, the campaigns that we're running.

and Us hitting out targets. Like there are times where we feel, or we notice that, Hey, according to demand bottle, we're actually slipping a bit.

Kaylee Edmondson: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Mark Huber: So we'll go all hands on deck for you know, probably two weeks-ish, at a time and knowingly drop some of the other stuff that we were making progress with to make sure that we get back either on track or ahead of where we're supposed to be.

Uh, because we're always looking at that demand model. And if you slip too far, then you get to the point that Jason's talking about, where it's the point of. no return.

Kaylee Edmondson: Yeah, no, that's a great point too. Um, because I feel like, yeah, it's really easy to talk about the upside. Right. But in reality, it's like, look, no model is perfect.

Right. And so we all have months where we're like, "No, not gonna meet our goals this month. Like will you do a quick pivot, what's our [inaudible 00:41:02] for not? Like what's our quick win or what can we optimize? Or, you know,

Mark Huber: Yeah.

Kaylee Edmondson: ...what ball did we completely forget about and drop because we were over here looking at the next shiny thing and like, forgot to do these things that, you know, we're supposed to do every month or whatever.

Um, and I think that's just like part of reality.

Mark Huber: Judging by how good Jason's hair looks right now. You can tell we're in a good spot with our numbers. [Laughing] Whenever we're not hitting out numbers. It tends to look a little all over the place.

Kaylee Edmondson: That's Like your real-time pulse, like almost

Jason Widup: it's more [inaudible 00:41:27] Brown there's more dark brown.

Mark Huber: [Laughing] Yeah.

Jason Widup: Yeah, It's more dark brownish. Yeah. when we're not doing too-

Kaylee Edmondson: Oh, then it's good.

Jason Widup: It's like, oh. Sometimes I get on a call too. And I I, if the first time I've seen myself in like the first call I get on I'm like, oh, good... you can't take me seriously on this call. So give me a minute.

Kaylee Edmondson: Or you're just like all of a sudden your camera goes off and you're like, okay, hold on. Let me get myself together.

Oh, that's good. It's like a real-life mood ring,

Jason Widup: Yeah.

Kaylee Edmondson: um, based on your hair. I'm okay with that. I'll start, I'll start doing a better read of the room next time. and make sure your hair is in check. Um, okay. I always like to wrap with this question. So. who's another marketer that you're following in the space that you've read their book, that you've attended oh, through a podcast or something that they're putting on that you've learned something from that you'd share with others that are listening so that they can go and take a listen or follow them on social.

Jason Widup: Mark has to go first. I'm really bad at this.

Kaylee Edmondson: Oh no [laughing].

Mark Huber: Yeah. I'm gonna give like a, kind of a basic answer to this question, but, uh, obviously awesome with April. Dunford helped me so much when I was going through the positioning and messaging, uh, part of earlier this year. So that's huge. And then I think the Dave Gerhardt book that he's coming out with in the fall Founder's brand, I think, or founder, brand, I'm pretty pumped for that one.

Jason Widup: I'm gonna cheat I'll, I'll first start by saying I don't listen to. Enough podcasts or read enough things. And so that's something I'm actually trying to get better at. And mark has seen me trying to progre-, Mark has seen me actually try to do that. because every once in a while, I'll listen to a new podcast and he'll know, because I have like three new ideas.

He's like, "Ah, you're listening to a fucking new podcast again, aren't you? So I need to get better about that, but I did, actually, I really enjoy it. Like I'm listening to DG's podcast and I got like a lot of things out of it. And so I think I just need to pick and choose the right ones, but I would say. Like anything that helps you get closer to revenue, you know what I mean?

Like, so anything that I'm listening to, you know, that's just like a marketer that takes on like revenue-related goals. I'll listen to all the time, but like, I'm trying to get, I think really more specifically anyone that can talk about how brand really impacts demand, I think that's just.

like... People talked about it a lot. There's some people that understand it. And then a lot of us like me, the ops like people that grew up in the ops world they, they have to like really understand that. And I'm just starting to understand it a lot more like just how critical brand is. And so I'm trying to listen to anybody that like, has a perspective on that.

Kaylee Edmondson: yeah, 'cause it's hard, right?

Especially like even me in my career, I've been a performance marketer, my entire career. So like two plus two always equals four. And in this game of brand equals revenue, Right. It's like a weird mind-shift-

Jason Widup: Yep.

Kaylee Edmondson: ...where you're trying to adapt to, like, you cannot rely on the numbers. Attribution is basically a joke.

Like you're gonna have to get over it. And like Jason said, have a little bit of faith or whatever it is you need to have. to just, like, Suck it up for a period and then it'll land you in a better spot on the other side, but it's so hard. Um, and especially like I've always been the numbers gal, like in any org I've landed in somehow I've always been the numbers person.

And here we are of course, in line with how you guys are doing demand gen and how you're running your marketing, org, and We are doing very similar structure and it's just very hard, but it's so worth it. And it, it's, it's just not two plus two equals four. And I don't know how else to explain it.

Jason Widup: Yep, it's not. And so like, those of us.

that Start on that side of the brain. You know what I mean? Like we've gotta Start to pull more on our intuition on our gut, on like the intangibles and really understand that that has just as big, if not a bigger impact as these like little digital interactions you know.

Kaylee Edmondson: it does. Right. And it, And it all compounds. And I think too, that like in this role in marketing, in this way, as opposed to marketing in like the waterfall model world that we used to live in really just shows that you have to be close to your customers. Like closer than ever to your customers. like even us in this world where we're marketing to people who have similar titles to ourselves, we're still a small sample size. And so, as we've talked about in the rest of the episode, it's like, even if you think your gut says one thing, vetting it with a smaller population of other people who look and think like you or have similar responsibilities within their role will get you further.

The closer you are to them on a recurring basis, than you just trying to get, check and guess your way through it. Quick plugs on where people can follow you guys. If they wanna follow you after the episode,

Mark Huber: Jason's gonna give his TikTok handle,

Kaylee Edmondson: Oh, we're doing TikTok?

Jason Widup: We're not [laughing].

Kaylee Edmondson: Do it.

Mark Huber: Definitely not

Jason Widup: I don't have one. Yeah, this is a... just LinkedIn. Yeah, I'm on, I'm on LinkedIn all the time.

Mark Huber: Uh, I'm on LinkedIn too. And then you'll see me lurking around in, uh, DGMG or some good Content with John Bonini sometimes too.

Kaylee Edmondson: Beautiful. Awesome. Well, thank you both so much for your time. This has been a lovely chat.

I feel like there are tons of great takeaways that people can go. that are actually actual, They can implement within their orgs today. So thank you. Thank you. And we'll see you next time.

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Demand Gen Chat is a Chili Piper podcast hosted by Tara Robertson. Join us as we sit down with B2B marketing leaders to hear about the latest tactics and campaigns that are driving pipeline and revenue.
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