Skip to main content

MQLs aren’t the enemy and creating high-converting competitor pages | Dev Basu @ Powered by Search

 
powered by Sounder

Episode Description

In this episode, I sat down with a fellow Torontonian, Dev Basu, CEO of Powered by Search. The agency has been helping B2B companies grow since 2009 and Dev has seen some major shifts in the way B2B companies go-to-market. We cover some spicy topics including why Dev doesn’t believe MQLs are dead, and how to create competitor comparison pages that your prospects will actually want to read.

Show Notes

Follow Tara: https://twitter.com/taraarobertson

Follow Dev: https://twitter.com/devbasu

Playbook Competitor Comparison Landing Pages: https://www.poweredbysearch.com/blog/competitor-comparison-landing-pages-for-saas/

Check out 42 Agency’s newsletter: https://www.42slash.com

Subscribe to DGC:

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/demand-gen-chat/id1437677652

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/0aLHOEgHVDpzTbraVFhxdR?si=_j4Ky1mZSQ6ZVJHyQCaLmA&nd=1

About Demand Gen Chat

About Demand Gen Chat 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. If you’re looking for tactical ways to improve your marketing, this podcast is for you!

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Welcome back to Demand Gen Chat. I'm your host, Tara Robertson. And I'm really excited to introduce you to our special guest today. I'm speaking with Dev Basu. Dev is also Toronto based like me, which is always fun to chat with someone based in Toronto. And he's the CEO of Powered by Search, which is an agency that helps B2B SaaS companies scale their demand gen efforts.

Hey Tara, thanks a so much for having me. I appreciate you, uh, inviting me on board.

Yeah, of course. I've been following you on Twitter for quite a while now. So I was really excited to hear from you. Um, why don't you tell us a little bit about Powered by Search and what you help customers do?

Yeah. Happy to. So, uh, we started in 2009. And we work with B2B SaaS companies that aren't growing fast enough. Um, most of our clients are mid to late stage in their growth. And we work with folks like maybe from Basecamp, to ClickFunnels, to VMware, for example, they come to us and, um, their primary challenge is either breaking through a growth ceiling that they've hit, whether that's, you know, an ARR target that's here, up here and [00:01:00] an actual that's down here. It could be a, a scaling challenge where the cost of acquisition is way too high. Um, or, you know, they, they are doing all the right things, it's just not converting at the rate that they really want it to. So we help them fill their pipeline with the right types of demos and trials, and ultimately [inaudible 00:01:18] and AR the companies we work with.

Great. And are there certain key metrics they are coming to you looking to improve? Or should I, I should say, has that changed over time? 'Cause we've been doing this for quite a while now.

Yeah. I think the, the thing that I've seen change the most is a movement away from vanity metrics. Um, so-

Mm-hmm.

And if you were to think about the conversations we were having 5, 6, 7 years ago, still a lot of, hey, we want a lot of top of funnel traffic. Um, can you, can we just pump out a lot of content for example, and maybe they would come to us and say, we're doing four pieces of content per month and we'd like to get to 12. And usually when we'd pro and say, "Well, why?" There wouldn't be a very good answer over there. I think that most [00:02:00] marketers and B2B have become much more bottom line metrics driven. So the conversations have shifted from how do we have as much traffic as possible to more pipeline metrics? So, you know, the, the most mature kind of digital ready marketers we speak with are talking about pipeline contribution from different demand generation channels. Um, but at the very least they have a good idea of the number of sales qualified leads, or the number of trials, for example, that they'd like to get from different channels. And then we dig a bit deeper into other metrics that are down funnel metrics, like from, you know, from sales qualified lead to sales accepted, sales accepted to opportunity, and so on.

And on the, the product-led growth side, um, trials, sign up to trial activation to, you know, usage and product qualified leads and so on. So, uh, that's how it's changed. I think it's just gone from very much like, how do we get as much awareness as possible to how do we drive as much bottom line revenue as possible and showcase marketing, being a, a real contributor to sales growth. Um, which is I think a [00:03:00] very welcomed change. Like, it's something that we really jam with clients on as opposed to only talking about the vanity, the vanity level stuff.

Yeah. I'm sure that switch from quantity to quality is a nice change as an agency versus-

Yeah.

... just, "Help us write Tony blog posts. We don't really know why, we just need to get content"-

Yeah.

... "out the door."

Yeah.

So that's a welcomed change. That actually that takes us really nicely into the first topic that I wanted to pick your brain on. So you have a blog post called the MQL is dead, isn't dead. Sorry. You're just using them wrong. Um, super curious to dig into this, 'cause I'm not sure if you've seen our stance at Chili Piper, but we don't report MQLs at all. So we're very focused-

Mm-hmm.

... on just driving directly to that SQL.

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

And curious from your perspective, just what you think marketers are getting wrong about MQLs? Maybe we've shifted too far towards pipeline.

Right.

We're not focused on top of funnel enough.

Uh, well, well, I think our stance on it is it, it's a little bit driven by the incentives that different platforms and providers have in shaping B2B marketing narratives. So, you know, um, I've been around long enough [laughs] that I remember [00:04:00] when serious decisions, for example, came out with their whole MQL to SQL to SAL model essentially, that whole waterfall essentially. Um, and that drove a lot of MarTech, uh, platforms to adopt that and start talking about what part of the pipeline that they essentially owned. So if you think about, um, you know, to, to drop some names, Uberflip, which is also based in Toronto is a company that primarily aligned themselves with driving MQL or content gated opt-ins essentially. And then you have ones that are down funnel, um, perhaps like your, you guys, for example, going really for the, the sales qualified lead.

I think our stance on it was, it's part of a continuum, right? It's a stage basically in a customer life cycle. Uh, it, it's not something that you want to throw the baby out with the bath water. That was our whole point on it. And what we've seen, I think in the marketplace is both platforms as well as professional [00:05:00] services firms like agencies, um, creating somewhat of a false dichotomy. So we've seen, um, some folks in the industry come out and say, well, it doesn't matter to generate MQLs at all anymore. The only thing that matters is, you know, customer generation, or SQL generation, for example. And I think that they're not mutually exclusive. In, in other words, here's another way of thinking about it. The people need to know you, like you, and entrust you enough to, to want to buy your product. And if we're only myopic to looking at the people who are ready to trust this, that's usually a, a small percentage at any given time. I've, I've heard metrics that range between like 5 to 15% of any market, um, is actually ready to buy right now. So what about the, in this case 95 to 85% of the market that needs to be educated and motivated.

We need a way to have some permission to speak to them, um, and to educate and motivate them and nurture them. And those people then turn into sales qualified leads. They raise their hand and say, I'd love, I'd [00:06:00] love some help. Um, so that continuum hasn't fundamentally changed. And so we didn't wanna throw out the baby with a bath, while, bath water. Instead, we looked at why is there a shift towards SQLs, um, and you know, uh, demonstration of, uh, intent associated with that?

What we found is that it wasn't that companies weren't getting MQLs in the first place. They just didn't know what to do with them once they came in. And so they spent a ton of time building the content that would be the opt-in, the lead magnet, or the gated content, whatever you wanna call it, really. Uh, and it would get John DOE from Acme Corp on to their HubSpot, or Marketo, or Pardot, whatever they were using. And then there would be zero true follow up in terms of the depth of engagement with that person. It wouldn't even really be treated like a person. It would just be a name on a list essentially. And the hope was that there was some way, shape, or form just by magic that that person would be sales ready. And so the M QLS turned into a bit of a vanity metric themselves in the same way that [00:07:00] traffic sometimes is seen as vanity metric.

And our whole perspective on it was if it's a really well aligned lead magnet or a piece of gated content that actually helps the user or the, the prospect in this case solve their problem, um, or help educate them on what to look for and what to look out for, they actually will increase an affinity towards buying whatever platform is, is being promoted. Um, and we put that to work and have certainly seen a big increase in, uh, the throughput from over there, from, like, MQL to SQL-

Hmm.

... conversion rates. That I think was a key metric that in speaking to incoming clients, they were dissatisfied with. They were just like, "MQLs are great, but they don't turn into SQLs." And there wasn't enough pause to go, why is that? As opposed to just saying, MQLs are now, you know, evil and the enemy [laughs], and therefore we should, we don't wanna focus on them anymore. And so we just wanted to pause-

Great stuff.

... and have a look at it. That's, that's where our stance basically came from.

One thing that I think about a lot, and obviously this is a little insular, 'cause I'm marketing to marketers. It's basically my-

Yeah.

... persona that I'm selling to [00:08:00] you. And I'm sure you feel the same [laughs]. Um, but I often think that people in our industry, when they do want that education, don't necessarily believe what a vendor has to-

Mm-hmm.

... tell them about it.

Yeah. Yeah.

So that's kind of where on that MQL kind of nurture path, I do think-

Yeah.

... that it's not gonna work as well as it used to, especially for a marketer.

Yeah.

They, like you said-

Right.

We figured out vendors have a story to sell us and they're gonna tell us that story no matter what we need. So-

Totally. Yeah.

If people are off self educating, that's where I think that MQL is dead storyline-

Yeah.

... does come in where-

Yeah.

... sure, the nurture doesn't work as well as it used to, but you still wanna be in front of them when they're ready to raise their hand. And that's kind of-

A, a, a hundred percent.

... what our job is now as marketers.

Yeah. A hundred percent. I would say that there, there are many types of buyers that are allergic to an opt-in form. Marketers being kind of wanted them. Um, sometimes we're a bit curious to see what others are doing. So there're, there're a lot of marketer opt-ins for MarTech is, is less so-

Mm-hmm.

... to demonstrate interest and more about like, let me, let me see what your funnel is basically like.

Yeah.

The other group that-

[00:09:00] Yeah. [inaudible 00:09:01] open to every newsletter that I've ever seen-

Right. Right.

Just 'cause I write ours and-

Yeah.

... I wanna see [laughs].

Right. So there's, like, a self discovery element over there. Um, the other, uh, user type that we've seen that does not respond very well to quote, "marketing our developers" for example. And so-

Mm-hmm.

You know, we, we think of that and, um, that's actually one segment of buyer where we typically won't use an MQL or an opt-in of some kind. Um, but we use a different form of discovery. So for a lot of those types of, of B2B SaaS, uh, one of the most frequently checked out sections are your API docs. Um, and so developers-

Mm-hmm.

... will go, look at the docs file, but, you know, usually the docs file is written for somebody who's already using the product. And there often isn't a connecting calibrated call to action over there. Um, and so what we've done over there is to say, hey, so you're on these API doc about connecting product A to platform B, by the way, if you're not a user yet, or if you haven't started your free trial yet, here's how you get started with your free trial [00:10:00] of the product, which is, you know, skipping the MQL step entirely and going to, uh, essentially, like, what would be considered an SQL in a, uh, in a demo led environment. But in this case you actually get to start-

Mm-hmm.

... using the product. So, um, it works out quite well. I think it just about, like, meeting the, the customer where they're at with the type of, um, uh, friction they may have in the sales process. Um, the other place this also maybe can be useful is, you know, in, uh, comparison, uh, competitor comparison content. Um, that's, uh, that's a good place to actually create some sort of buyer's guide and just give it to the buyer to condense their research process essentially. So there are some practical lead magnets like that, that work quite well. Um, but I agree that a lot of the, the fluff content out there that isn't, you know, just like the 40 page ebook or whatever, doesn't work quite as well as it used to. And I'm, I'm surprised it ever worked at all fra- frankly.

I think anything will work if it's that short term, right?

Yeah.

'Cause people will, will see something new-

Yeah.

... and shiny, and fill it out. And to your point-

Yeah.

A lot of us marketers are kind of like, "What are [00:11:00] they doing over here?"

Yeah. Yeah.

So we'll fill it out to see-

Totally. Yeah.

... and not necessarily to follow through. I know I-

Yes.

... definitely do that. So... Yeah. Um, sort of on the topic of competitor pages, I'm really curious about this one specifically just kind of selfishly, but we need to do a lot of work on our competitor pages. So I'm curious-

Right.

... from your perspective, what do you see people doing wrong on those competitor pages? And is there an opportunity to bring leads in that are-

Yeah.

... kinda ready to compare?

Yeah. So one of the, the things that we do is every time we have one of these kind of interesting topics come up, we write a playbook essentially on it. And it's become the biggest driver of new business for ourselves on, you know, stuff that we publish on our blog. I guess when it comes to competitor comparison page content, I mean, number one thing that most B2B SaaS companies do is they shy away from it, because they go, "We don't... We are running our own race. We don't really need to talk about our competition." So that might be a stylistic preference. Our perspective on it is, well, you're not existing in a vacuum. If you are spending money on Capterra ads or you're on G2, if you even [00:12:00] realize that there are these competitor, you know, these directory websites, you're being compared all day long. It just matter whether you are controlling the narrative or not.

Um, the second component, I think, related to competitor comparison pages, and I know who started this, probably these directories, but was the table of, like, features with the check marks-

Mm-hmm.

... and, you know, the Xs, for example, um, along with outdated pricing as well, where, you know, generally we've seen, um, B2B SaaS companies trying to make their pricing seem a little bit more, uh, approachable than their competitors, let's just say.

[laughs].

Uh, and, uh, I think when you throw a big table at a buyer, it actually creates this choice paradox. And you just go, "Well, there's too much stuff going on over here." When the reality is, if you did jobs to be done interviews with why customers bought and why they didn't buy, it usually comes down to a few factors that make all the difference in your or positioning. And so our perspective on it is two things. Um, competitor comparison pages should [00:13:00] be less about dunking on the competition and less more, uh, less, or more so about who you're for and who you're not for. So you can start repelling the people who would effectively be lower quality, or less of a, a good for fit customer for your platform. They actually might be a great fit for your competitor.

Um, and the second component of it is really harping on customer marketing feedback. So we also have an article around, um, review websites and how to use that as a voice of customer, um, which feeds into competitor comparison pages. So if let's say, uh, you know, one of your, like, your platform really focuses on, uh, larger sales teams, right? And how to be able to have reps have more control over booking meetings. And you have G2 feedback that, uh, essentially is congruent with that, where, you know, you have, uh, users who are saying, well, no, what we used to use Calendly, or we [00:14:00] used, um, HubSpot meetings, but it didn't quite meet our use case, 'cause we have these two separate sales teams and here's how they book meetings, and Chili Piper really kind of fit our needs. Well, that's good feedback to include on a competitor comparison page, because you hope to actually attract the type of sales team leader who might be reading that content and going, that seems exactly like us. Like, where have you been all my life? And, you know-

[laughs].

I can't wait to jump on a call with you, 'cause I'm so tired of using this competitor tool that boxes me into one specific workflow. Um-

Mm-hmm.

So we look at that. Then we also look at, like, the repelling content, where let's say, uh, one of these calendaring tools, I'm, I'm just gonna say like, you know, instant booking tools with generic name.

Sure.

Insert name over here. Um, you know, maybe they're built for, like, a sales team with, like, two people. Like, small business, you know, and it just, like, has to have some level of round-robin, um, lead allocation or something like that. Maybe your platform isn't actually built for that. And your CRO says, you [00:15:00] know what, we, we want to go out for multi license, bigger teams. And we, if we have someone come in and use us in a smaller team setting, that's completely fine, but we're not gonna go for that. So it's not gonna be our focus. If it happens by default so be it, you can actually take that and actually start repelling, adding in repelling copies, say if you are a smaller team and you have no plans of growing, then go use this other platform. Like, here's a, a blog post we wrote on the top 10 instant booking tools or whatever. Um-

Mm-hmm.

And your name's not even gonna be on that. And so now that becomes something that can get inbound links. And so we're, we're big fans of, like, thinking about this as a, a flywheel, where everything, all the, you know, the dots kind of connect to each other. Uh, but comparison pages should really be about attracting and repelling. Um, attracting the red type of ideal customer profile and repelling the ones that are not. Um, but that also necessitates that marketing actually goes talk, and goes and talks to CSM teams and so on to understand who isn't a great customer, who churns, you know, in their first 90 days, for example, [00:16:00] that we don't want more of, because then marketing just attracts more of the non-fit customers and causes churn issues down the line.

Mm-hmm. Yeah. I love... You rubbed two really great things there that I already wanna implement. So I'm excited, but, um-

Cool. Yeah.

Voice of customer, we have tons of great quotes of, exactly to your point, what you said of people saying, "I use Calendly, it was time to upgrade for X reason. My team got so big."

Yeah.

"My round-robins got complicated."

Right.

So just adding that in there. And then also that tie back to SEO is so smart, because we have-

Yeah.

Obviously our content team is working super hard, creating these quotes.

Yeah.

And we don't really do much with them on the-

Yeah.

... demand gen side. They're just kind of out there gathering links, but we don't tie that back to our efforts. So...

With one specific tip I have for you, 'cause I checked this out on both your, Calendly versus Chili Piper, their page and yours.

Cool. Mm-hmm.

Um, yours is still in a blog post format right now. So it's got all the kind of traditional trimmings of a blog post, like your sidebar-

Mm-hmm.

... and your navigation and whatnot. Um, what we've seen work really well for these types of pages is, you [00:17:00] know, they're effectively attracting a buyer who's problem and solution aware, but also product aware as well. So you could try an AB test essentially, where all the same content essentially exists, but you, you basically get rid of your sidebar. Um, and maybe even your main nav and treat it like a landing page. And then what would happen is-

Mm-hmm.

If it starts organically ranking anybody, who doesn't convert on that page, you can then retarget with again, a customer marketing offer, which would be something like a banner ad of your customer feedback, of people who had outgrown Calendly and are now looking to-

Mm-hmm.

... get to the next level. That would work quite well for you, I think.

I love that. I love that you did some homework. That's really helpful [laughs].

Yeah.

That's great. Um, one quick question for you sort of related on the retargeting front. This type of project often comes up where people say, oh, this page would be great for retargeting, or-

Mm-hmm.

... oh, this audience would be great, but we often don't have enough traffic pages-

Mm-hmm.

... like this, or we could maybe combine them with say the pricing-

Yeah.

... page or another page.

Right.

But as I would love to get even more targeted and say, "Hey, they looked at [00:18:00] us versus Calendly. Let's give them this ad set."

Yeah. Yeah.

We're just not quite there yet with traffic.

Yeah.

Have you seen that with customers and what would you recommend in that case?

Um, yeah, all the of time. I mean, I would say, um, uh, a commonality for us is low volume, high ACV, uh, clients for us as opposed to-

Mm-hmm.

... you know, uh, high volume, low ACV. So we don't typically sell products that are 49 or $99, for example, per month. Typically, the ACVs tend to be a lot larger than that. Um, and what we say over there is this look, uh, you can go do a remarketing segment to all engaged users on the site that haven't taken the action that you want them to take, but then rather than, uh, doing a sort of one size fits all remarketing approach, why don't you do a seq- a sequence approach? We actually, if you google SaaS booming method, have a playbook on this, where the idea really is-

Mm-hmm.

If you, if you are remarketing, sequential advertising essentially [00:19:00] matches the buying behavior, um, that you have in your analytics, so let's say, like, the most common buying pattern or the most SaaS website says a homepage visit, then going to a pricing page, from a pricing page, going to a case study page, from a case study page going to a signup or a demo page, not converting and then going to a piece of content, for example, and then exiting, that's one common pattern. So figure out whatever that pattern is for you and go, what are all the reasons why someone may not take the next step? So for example, if someone went to the homepage was engaged, but didn't check out the pricing page. And let's say pricing was actually one of the feathers in your cap, in terms of your positioning, you could run an immediate ad, um, you know, to an engaged user to say, you know, here, come back and do a demo with us, which would be what everybody kind of does.

But then the following ad, if somebody didn't convert on that in, let's say a, a reasonable timeframe, 3, 4, 5, 7 days, whatever that might be, you then showcase your pricing if that's the next place that they would've normally gone to anyways. And then let's say-

Mm-hmm.

If they went to pricing, but didn't request a [00:20:00] demo, then the next step after that would be some sort of buyer's guide, if that would be the next logical place, if you've seen things convert well in. And so the idea would be, you know, uh, you show ads to this larger bucket of users. And so therefore you don't get squished on the, a- the impression serving. Um, but the ads themselves change or morph over time based off their, uh, response or lack thereof. And that's a pretty, you know, uh, it's a smart strategy to be able to have to prevent ad blindness number one. And they, they, generally the way it shows, and we, we, uh, listen to a lot of the calls that our clients have if they're recording with something like Gong or Clarity or whatever, um, they say, "It, it seemed like you guys are everywhere." And what that-

[laughs].

... actually translates to is just, I didn't see the same ad again and again, pounding me over the head. Instead-

Mm-hmm.

... I saw different ads and that made me feel like you were everywhere. Um, and of course, you kind of wanna do it omnichannel and all that type of stuff. That's, that's one way of kind of squeezing a few, you know, more juice essentially out of [00:21:00] every visit in remarketing.

Mm-hmm. Yeah. That's the best feedback you can get from sales is when they say-

Yeah.

Oh, the prospect said we are everywhere. And that's-

Right.

That makes me so happy-

Yeah.

... to hear [laughs]. It's so great.

Yeah.

But I'm sure, yeah, to your point, they're seeing a lot of the same stuff from us, 'cause we just need to up that refresh rate-

Yeah.

... which is always a challenge, but we have a lot of content-

Totally.

... that we can play with.

Yeah.

I'm so glad you brought up that buyer's journey 'cause that's actually a project we're working on right now. So we're switching to an account base model where-

Mm-hmm.

... instead of just kind of blindly targeting anyone who's in our ICP, we wanna go after really targeted accounts that the sales team also is going after, but-

Mm-hmm.

... what I'm trying to figure out next is obviously what that journey looks like once they, once they show some sign of engagement, what do we wanna serve them next? So-

Right.

I'll definitely check out that framework. That's a great way to put it into look into it.

Yeah. I think that, uh, those studies can take so long to kind of get, get around and actually do.

Yeah [laughs].

But once you have them in, in hand, it, there's, like, a, an, an insane amount of focus that you can just [00:22:00] start, and more conviction in building the assets associated with that buyer journey as well. So yeah, we're big fans of, like, jobs to be done interviews with customers who bought, um, especially the longer their sales cycle might be, just to understand-

Hmm.

... all the stalls and objections and things like that, that happen along the way, which can create kind of content assets to, uh, to diffuse objections, to intercept, um, objections that they come along, including the ones that are unspoken, right? The ones that they never talked about with sales, they just kind of thought in their mind. Um-

Mm-hmm.

Or there's a common premise, like one of the things, um, I saw on the Calendly page, they were dunking on you guys was about, uh, they, they, they captured somebody's tweet about how much it costs per license.

Hmm.

And if you're a mid-market or an enterprise player versus they're really, like, a very small SMB scale up model, almost as same way that Zoom for example sells, uh, their licenses. They were, like, saying how... Um, well, this user was essentially talking about how was it, it was expensive as a platform. Well, if there's a premise out there [00:23:00] that your platform is expensive, it would be useful to have remarketing, for example, with a customer testimonial about, like, they're reassuring the expensive, because what I care about is booking the meetings, not about the cost of the platform, 'cause the platform-

Mm-hmm.

... delivers a multiple of ROI or something like that, right? Um, but yeah, the, the jobs [inaudible 00:23:19] can be really, really useful when we're making that happen.

And how do you dig in on those kind of unmentioned, um, objections that you mentioned? Obviously-

Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

... it's different in the sales cycle because they just might not come up, but how do you dig in after the fact?

So we have, um, a methodology where it's called the predictable growth methodology. The first place we actually start is by understanding who the best fit customer actually is. And we get that feedback from a couple places. So, um, first party directly from sales teams and customer success teams. So sales teams tell us, like, what a good quality prospect is, but also what a bad quality prospect is, and why, including their fit and non fit criteria. Uh, we also talk to customer success teams, and they tell us who the [00:24:00] highest maintenance customers are versus the ones that-

Mm-hmm.

... you know, continue expanding and rarely ever clog tickets or complaints, for example. So that helps us understand the modality difference between, like, what it's like in the pre usage experience versus post usage. Um, we run voice customer surveys on the, the website itself. So as you're building out these pages, like, you know, a simple question could be something like, did you achieve what you were hoping to get out of this page? Yes or no? And if they-

Mm-hmm.

... click, no, then it just, it's a small text box that you get a response in free form. And we see response rates between one and 2% on something like that. Um, you put that into a word cloud and at the end of the month you can start seeing quite a few repeated themes kind of pop up. Um, so that's another good place to get a voice customer. We use the review website playbook to understand like what are the top themes in G2, Capterra software advice, trust radios, that type of thing. Um, and then we're developing a separate offering right now where we'll actually do, um, jobs to be done interviews with [00:25:00] customers. And so, you know, we'll essentially our, our, um, folks will go out and interview a customer and go through what was their challenge, for example, um, what, who do they talk to? What were their, you know, comparable alternatives that they considered essentially as well?

Um, and we'll bring all of that in, into essentially a, a, a pattern or a theme over 5 to 10 of these interviews in diff- in the same customer persona type. It doesn't work well, if you start mixing and matching like between-

Mm-hmm.

... you know, SMB versus mid-market versus enterprise, but if you have, like, 10 enterprise buyers and they all recently bought, you have a pretty good idea of how they came to that conclusion, that, you know, we should buy a Chili Piper, for example. Um, and we can use all that data to be able to, to drive content marketing plans from there on then.

I personally have never been on a team that spent enough time talking to customers. I feel like every marketer says-

Yeah.

.. talk to your customers, but then-

Yes.

... when it comes down to it, I look at my calendar and it's kind of, like, where do I squeeze this in?

Yeah. Yeah.

So it's, it's a definitely worthwhile investment. One quick thing that [00:26:00] I forgot to ask you about on the G2, Capterra review si- side of things is-

Mm-hmm.

... their PPC offering. So we're just tipping our toes.

Yeah.

And that I'm curious from what you've seen with customers, how does that compare to paid search and just ad words in general? And what are you seeing there?

Yeah. So what we've seen over there is we have, like, a, a general sca- scaling methodology when it comes to paid ads. Um, Capterra is great if you have a longer sales cycle, and you need leads right now [laughs], is the best way we kind of put it.

[laughs].

Because-

Mm-hmm.

Um, and the quality of the lead will vary because what's happening, the type of prospect who fills out a Capterra form, again, these are just general notes for, you know, most people, most of the time, their intent really is to go talk to a couple of vendors, potentially do an RFP, right? And so if you-

Mm-hmm.

... wanna keep your sales team busy, um, and [00:27:00] have them sort of gainfully working pipeline essentially, Capterra is actually a pretty good place to do that. because again, the type of people who are filling out those forms are in fact in the market. So they are very much problem and solution aware. They're semi product aware. They are not aware of product differentiation at all. So the, the most important thing

Hmm.

... to do over there is to treat those people slightly differently in your nurture bucket, versus how you treat kind of your all, all in one way of nurturing, because they need to be given buyers guides. They need to be given, uh, differentiation markers, for example, like if you won awards, if you won, have different use cases, um, they're buying in a very commoditized way because again, being a, a software directory they end up having these columns and tables and rows with, you know, what you include and what you don't include and so on, right? And gen- they have a gist of a perception. And the same way that we buy from Amazon, we only kind of look at, like, total review rating and a couple of the top and the worst review.

Mm-hmm.

So most of those [00:28:00] buyers are coming in with a general sense of who you are, but you're just a name on a list. And so the sales, the sales team has to do a little bit more work. You're not meaningfully differentiated versus I think with paid search, um, you know, the intent is, uh, not quite at the, hey, I, I need to make a list of vendors. Uh, you might just find somebody from paid search depending on obviously the type of term that you're bidding on, who just wants to get started. Like, they, they literally can move a lot faster.

Mm-hmm.

There's less, um, there's less lag in the sales pipeline. I think that's the best way we think about it. The deal, the average days to close from Capterra buyers is longer than the average days to close from paid search. Um, paid search, being relatively shorter. Capterra being longer, and then paid social being somewhere in between. You know, mostly because there, you know, you're focusing on the right people, but the, the pain isn't there, or the pain is sort of underneath the horizon, so to speak. And so you have to poke at it [00:29:00] to, to actually even make it aware. Um, those people may be symptom aware but may not be problem where if it's paid social.

Mm-hmm. That makes a ton of sense, because for us, by the time someone sees a book a demo ad on, say, LinkedIn, they've probably engaged with a lot of other content-

Right.

... about us. So they know something, where-

Right.

It's funny, the, obviously the review sites build themselves as super high intent, hottest leads.

Right.

But you're right. Like, you could have just come up on some comparison grid and that's the first time they've seen your logo, and they know nothing about you.

Yeah.

So that's a good thing to keep in mind. Great. And then just last topic for you. I know you hire a ton. Your team is growing all the time. So just curious-

Yeah.

... what you look for in general when you're hiring demand marketers, or just digital marketers in general?

Uh, yeah. Great question. Uh, the first thing I think we look for is a sense of curiosity. Uh, you know, if we find that at least for us, the people who are always practicing a growth mindset are the ones that are learning the most, that are [00:30:00] open to having strong opinions loosely held. And so they're, they're always shifting that based off what data they're getting, or feedback from their clients or from their peers. That's a big one. I think, critical thinking and specifically around first principles and second order kind of effects and consequences is big one as well. Meaning like, a lot of demand gen marketers tend to focus on the levers in front of them that they can pull, but they don't think about what happens next. Like, what happens if the lever I pull is successful? What are the knock on effects of that? And who are the benefactor basically of it as well?

Um, you know, I would say those are top two. And the third one really is somebody who's, uh, very resourceful or re- relentless in terms of getting to value essentially. So, you know, they won't stop. Like, if, it's not about just, uh, building a landing page and running an ad and kind of calling it a day, but it actually fundamentally bothers them if it doesn't convert at, in the way that [00:31:00] they expected it to. Um, so generally, these people come in with, like, a hypothesis going, if I do X I'll get Y, and if Y doesn't end up becoming true, they'll hunt it down essentially until-

[laughs].

... it becomes true. So there's some level of, like, bias for action, essentially associated with that. And that's something we screen for. Um, and these are all traits at the end of the day, they're not skills necessarily. Um, so notice I didn't mention, like, they have to be amazing at SCM, or they have to be great content writers-

Mm-hmm.

... or any of that. Like, that stuff can be taught. And we do have really good training around that, um, at Powered by Search, but the, the other stuff I kind of joke around with the team it's about, like, hiring people who come with batteries included. Um, and that's the thing that we can't really, we can't teach. And so it makes it, it makes hiring in this environment-

Mm-hmm.

... a lot diff- more difficult obviously. And, um, we have to keep that quality bar really up, but that's, those are some of the things that we look for.

That's great. I think it actually ties nicely back to what you were saying in the beginning about how just your customers asks have changed from-

Mm-hmm.

... [00:32:00] that just quantity, pumping out content, bringing in leads to getting sort of revenue and tying results back. So you're looking for people that are kind of connecting those dots and being relentless about getting those numbers in, which is great. Do you ever get clients coming to you saying we don't care about the strategy? We know you guys are great.

Yeah.

But we want you to do this one page or this one thing. And kind of, what is your response to that?

Uh, we, we do.I mean, and we don't fault them for that as well, because that has been the general model in which, um, clients tend to engage agencies as well.

Yeah.

And so when that happens through our process of finding fit, we simply refer them to folks who are very happy to take on that work and would do a great job at it as well. Um, it just means that we might not be the right fit for them, because the only door that, you know, inbound B2B SaaS clients work with us on is it, it's always a strategy door first, and then-

Mm-hmm.

... execution comes with it. So it's, they fundamentally want to hire the right who, um, to be able to get to how and what they want in terms of the result, essentially. If they already know what [00:33:00] they want, and they simply want to buy bandwidth, which is again, lowering a, instead of doing an in-house and having to deal, deal with all the, the recruiting costs, the ramp up costs, et cetera, um, the cost of mishires and so on. And they just wanna have somebody, uh, execute on it. There are great people who do exactly that type of work, and we'll refer that out, and we're very happy to do that type the thing.

Yeah. That's a good way to look at it. Just giving them what they want. It might not be you, but sometimes that's just-

Yeah. Exactly.

... how to, it's just getting them-

Yeah.

Yeah. Getting them what they need. So just a couple quick fire questions for you, if you don't mind. Um, first one, is there another marketer you follow that our listeners should go follow? Maybe it's someone with a book or a podcast?

Yeah. I like, um, mentioning folks who don't have, like, a, a gigantic platform. And I would say we, we are-

Mm-hmm.

... you know, right in there as well, like, a, we have a bit of a mini brand perhaps within B2B SaaS. Um, I'll give a shout out to my friend, Camille Rexton at 42 Agency. Um-

I love Camille.

Yeah.

[laughs] That's a great [inaudible 00:33:58].

Yeah. And I would just [00:34:00] say why, um, you know, because Camille and what, the work he does at 42, they go really deep in terms of their, uh, content specifically around the state of demand gen and B2B SaaS as well.

Mm-hmm.

So, um, uh, I'd recommend reading his blog and his newsletter as well. Um, I, it's something that having been in the game for as long as I have, I still find a lot of value to learn things from reading it. And so, uh, yeah, Camille.

Great one. Is there an under the radar channel or tactic that your team is really loving right now?

Uh, we really love jamming on Twitter Ads, which is something that most B2B-

Mm-hmm.

... SaaS folks don't think about very much. Um, you know, the, the platforms Azure are, of course you, you know, the usual suspects, Google Ads, LinkedIn, um, to certain degree, Facebook, for example, as well. But most of our clients don't come to us thinking that Twitter Ads work quite well for them. Um, [00:35:00] here's a beautiful thing about Twitter Ads. So I'll tell you about one thing that absolutely sucks, which is their conversion tracking sucks.

Mm-hmm.

Um-

Yeah.

But-

[laughs] I've been playing around with that.

Yeah. It, it, it just does not exist. It's very nascent. However, one of the things that they do incredibly well is, um, you can target somebody with a follower count that is small, that extremely loyal, and, and show an ad to them without having an impression cap. So compared to, let's say, LinkedIn or Facebook, where you need to have a large audience in order to serve your ads, Twitter does not have that issue at all. And we've used that with great success, even for our own marketing, where we go, the kind of the idea we, we share is, uh, it's called the no one else, but strategy. So you, you pick, like, um, a, a niche that, you know, very little about. So I know very little about golf, for example. So if you ask, like who, who are some well known golf players, I'd say tiger woods and A- Arnold Plamer, right? I don't know-

Mm-hmm.

.... anybody else who plays golf at all. [00:36:00] And so I would fall into the, um, everyone knows category of, you know, these golfers.

Mm-hmm.

But the question would be no one else, but a diehard golf fanatic would know, you know, players, A, B, C, and D. And they have Twitter accounts and they, they may have small fall followings, 'cause they're, you know, really at the top of their game, but they're not really content marketers or influencers or whatever it might be. And, um, I'll, I mean, I'll give you an example. So I've been reading, um, Dave, Dave Kellogg, I guess his name Kellblog. Um, he's got an amazing content on, uh, pipeline management specifically. Now, I-

Hmm.

... think he's, he's, doesn't have, like, he doesn't have 50,000 Twitter followers or anything like that. Um, we'll do a test of targeting our ads to Dave's followers and see how that turns out. And my bet is that we'll see some very good results, 'cause the only type of people who would follow him are people who are relatively mid to senior level [00:37:00] in their demand gen or B2B careers in marketing. Um, and appreciate the type of content he puts out, which is a little bit more technical, um, which is a little bit more for-

Mm-hmm.

... latter stage companies and B2B SaaS as well. And so Twitter Ads, I think most people are slee- are sleeping on, um, uh, primarily, because it's hard to attribute con- uh, conversion. For us, at least what we notice is that a lot of our incoming clients will say you're everywhere over Twitter. Like, I have been seeing your content-

Mm-hmm.

... for the last six months, and I couldn't ignore it anymore, and that's why we're on a call, you know, uh, today. And we go, fantastic. I'm glad it's been useful. And um, yeah, that would be one of the platforms that's probably underrated.

Awesome. Yeah. I completely agree. I'm, I'm a huge fan of just following marketing people on Twitter. It's also-

Yeah.

... one of the few channels where you keep your feed pretty clean. So to your point-

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

... you follow people that you actually wanna hear from. So it's a little-

Yeah. Yeah.

... cleaner than my LinkedIn feed, which is all over the place [laughs].

Are you telling me you don't love the LinkedIn, like, content where there's a line where rank [00:38:00] between every sentence basically [laughs]?

The broetry? I forgot who-

The broetry,

But I like it [laughs].

Yes. Yeah.

Not, not my favorite. No.

Not my favorite either.

Um, [laughs] so where can our audience go to find more about you? And obviously I know you're active on Twitter and LinkedIn, but where's the best channel?

Uh, best channel for learning more about Powered by Search, just poweredbysearch.com. Um-

Mm-hmm.

Uh, if you wanna engage with me personally, Twitter's probably where I'm most active, but just @DevBasu on Twitter. Um, and my DMs are open. So, uh, I love meeting new people in B2B SaaS and in demand gen, and just jamming with them, getting to know what they're working on and finding ways to support them as well.

Great. Thank you so much, Dev, again for your time and thanks everybody for listening. Catch you on our next episode.