Picture this. You've just accepted a new role as the head of marketing with a company. Your ultimate job is to get them noticed. What steps do you take to attract attention and interest?
In today's episode, you'll learn how to stand out and break through using the principles behind Drift's success.
Listen in for a special episode, as we welcome Dave Gerhardt back to the show.
Everyone explains that making your business different is vital — but NO ONE (not even experts) explains how to actually do it... Until now.
Just click on that big fat red button, answer a couple of questions, and learn to stand the f*ck out in a no-bull, super-practical way:
"You're literally the only marketer I can stomach."
"When are you going to do something in French so I understand it?"
"A terrific celebration of marketers and marketing in all its forms."
Louis: Bonjour, bonjour! And welcome to another episode of EveryoneHatesMarketers.com, the no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast for marketers, founders, and tech people who are just sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I'm your host, Louis Grenier.
In today's episode, you'll learn how to stand out and break through using the principles behind Drift's success. I'll explain what Drift is in a second, if you don't know. My guest today has been on the show before, a year and a half ago, and he's now the VP of marketing at Drift. The last time we talked, he was actually only director.
Dave: That was immediately after. Once I was on your podcast they were like, "you know what, we need to make you VP." I think.
Louis: Exactly, that's the power. So, since he joined Drift a few years ago, 150,000 businesses have used it. They have been profiling so many publications, I don't even wanna name them. Their popular podcast Seeking Wisdom with David Cancel, the founder, is getting 50,000 downloads a month or plus, which is even almost as close as mine.
So that's good, well done. They created the category of conversational marketing, as you might know. They have this massive conference called HYPERGROWTH. They also wrote and published a book. So, Dave Gerhardt, super happy to have you on board again.
Dave: Really, I'm happy to do it. As you would say, bonjour, bonjour. I love the whole concept of your show. I think it says a lot about marketing, and you ask the real questions so I'm glad that you would let me come back. And, really, the only reason I'm doing this is so I could get another promotion after.
Louis: Yeah, but what's next then, as VP?
Dave: I don't know, I don't know. No, I want one of those Chief Evangelist Officer, you know like one of those, he just goes on podcasts and tweets and stuff. I want one of those titles.
Louis: That's what you do, basically, anyway.
Dave: Yeah, it is.
Louis: Yeah, and then the acronym for chief evangelist officer would be CEO as well, so that's your next step anyway.
Dave: That's pretty good.
Louis: So, it seems to get harder and harder to get noticed for companies, right? To stand out and break through, so why is that?
Dave: Oh man, there's a bunch of different reasons, but I think there's just more noise than ever today in every channel. Everybody has a podcast, everybody has a blog, everybody's doing video, everybody's on social media. That's part one.
Part two is, there's a million different companies in any single industry, like cars, technology, shoes, clothes, doesn't matter, right? But because technology's gotten so wide spread, it's easier than ever to start a business, to start a company, to start a product.
And so it's kinda these two forces of, it's easier than ever to create information, and it's easier than ever to create businesses and products. People are just drowning in the amount of stuff that's out there, and the real challenge is not that there's a lot of noise.
The challenge is, if you're a marketer, you can't rely on the crutches of we have the best product anymore. Which is a bummer, because you should. The best product should win.
But that's not how it works. And the reason why is because buyers, your potential customers, are more skeptical than ever. Every marketer in the world, every sales rep in the world, is gonna tell you something like this. "I'm selling this thing, it's faster, it's easier to use, it's better, it integrates with all the things you work with."
Everybody says that same stuff. So even if it is true -- even if you did make the best, fastest, easy to use product in the world, people just aren't gonna believe it.
I think marketing is harder than ever. People who've been in the marketing industry for like 30-40 years, they don't like when I say this. But I think marketing is harder than it's ever been because we've kind of rode this wave.
10 years ago was amazing. Marketers started to use technology and it became easier because you get to track and measure everything. Funnels and campaigns, blah, blah, blah. But now, there's too much that you have to go back to the fundamentals of marketing to be able to get people's attention. And then earn the right to have a conversation with somebody.
Louis: Right. Let's have a little scenario, a little game, together, shall we? Let's say Drift doesn't exist anymore, for whatever reason. Right?
Louis: You have all this knowledge. All the stuff you've made, all the mistake made, all the lesson learned in the last four years. And you join a company that is not at the stage that Drift is now, which is maybe early stage.
They have a product that is good enough, they have some team members, but they are bootstrapped, they don't have a lot of money. Right? They don't have a lot of VC funds behind them and whatnot. Let's say you join them as Director of Marketing. You're in charge of marketing there, and your job is to get them noticed. You know? Get them to stand out.
How would you go about it, step by step? What would be your process, based on all of the stuff you've learned? And I know I'm gonna add a few more complexities cause you're way to good with just that, your gonna say something that is gonna be quite easy for you.
Let's say you have only $10,000 to play with to start with, you know? Let's say you can't really use your name either, you can't use your network, because it's too easy, you have a lot of people on LinkedIn, right?
You'll have to use your knowledge, you have to use your expertise, the lesson you learned, to stand out. How would you go about it? What first principle do you start to go back to? What fundamentals do you look into?
Dave: This is why I love your show. This is a great question. Most people would say, "David, next question. How did you, blah." This is great.
By the way, this would be a great show. Which is like you give marketers $10,000, you can't use your name, you can't use your network, you have to do something. I would make a video, light the $10,000 on fire, and then tell people to go to my landing page.
No, that's not what I would do. Somebody's done that. To me, marketing, whether you have money or not, marketing is all about understanding people. I hate that when I say that, most people listening to this, and most people in life, will be like, "yeah, obviously."
But I don't think that very many people actually live that in their business and in their marketing, and so I'm talking about what really motivates people. Social psychology, understanding human behavior, all of the principles, and Robert Cialdini's great book from 1984, Influence, right? What actually motivates people?
To me, everything that I have learned that has actually helped me in my career in marketing relates back to that. So what I would do. I don't even know if I would need the $10,000, first of all, so I don't know if I would spend it.
What I would do is I would spend a little bit of time analyzing my potential customers and competitors. Really, the only goal of the exercise is to try to find the gaps. And so, let's say that I am making a new... I love hooded sweatshirts, right? I would go and figure out, okay, who are the people that I want? Where are my dream customers, where are they hanging out online?
There's a great book called The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes, and he talks about, this is before ABM was a thing, he says, "Who are your dream 100? Who are your dream 100 customers?" So, where do they hang out? So, where are my dream 100 customers that I want to buy my hoodies, where do they hang out in person and online? And I'd just make a whole list.
They go to these conferences, they read these blogs, they listen to these podcasts, they listen to these people, these influencers, these people in the market, they typically live in these areas. Then, that's one thing okay?
That would start to get me list of channels that might be interesting. Maybe this group doesn't actually care about podcasts at all, but they're huge on YouTube. Okay, we're starting to narrow down the channels that I would focus on.
Then I would look at the competitors in that industry. Who's already making hooded sweatshirts? How did they go to market? Oh, they're running ads. What keywords are they using? Okay, what content are they creating? Oh really, interesting, nobody in this industry has a podcast. Okay, then that's a huge gap. That might be an area.
I'm always trying to find the gaps because everybody's doing the same things in marketing. For me, it's really about finding the channels that I can have a competitive advantage on by being the first person there.
Maybe that's, everybody has a podcast but nobody has a podcast in your industry. I'd start the first podcast in that industry. Nobody's vlogging or creating video content in that industry, I would do that.
Nobody's running ads, maybe I start googling stuff and there's no search terms being bid on, on AdWords. It's all about finding those opportunities first, and then you can start to get creative and figure out how you're gonna stand out in those channels.
Louis: Alright, so let's break down what you just said there. So, understanding people. I know both of us say the same stuff and I repeat that on the podcast all the time. I know it sounds very cliché but, you have a very practical view on it.
Let's break that down first of all. How do you actually get to know who your ideal customers, your top 100, are in the first place? How do you define those people?
Dave: I mean, there's usually like, especially if you're joining the company as a marketer, you're very rarely the first person who's ever thought about your business. Most companies start with product and engineering first, and so there's gotta be some thought about who this ideal customer is.
Maybe your product manager is out there doing customer development and interviewing early customers. I want all those notes, cause those notes are money, they're great for marketing content.
But, honestly, the non-sexy answer is you've gotta open your eyes. And I think the biggest thing that has changes for me, as a marketer, is I am not just a marketer at work from 9 to 5.
It's just who I am as a person. I'm just super curious about, "Why did they run that ad? Why does Starbucks have that billboard over there? Okay, interesting. Oh, I saw that commercial."
I'm just super curious, and it's a gift and a curse because I can't turn my mind off sometimes. But it's being curious about what people are doing and what people are saying. And so, you can find so many things out by doing something like find a related product on Amazon and read the reviews, read what people are saying.
Find a related product on YouTube and go. Here's an example, about a year ago we launched a product at Drift that lets you book meetings, like a calendering product, right? The first the that I did when we launched that product was, I went to everybody on YouTube to see who was using Calendly.
And there was a couple other products like that, I don't know, there's like, TimeTrade is another one. I just wanted to see who was reviewing those products. Not because I wanted to reach them, but I wanted to see how they talked about it. And then you start to get into that world, and, especially today, this is 2019, this is so easy because everybody's creating this stuff.
It's not like 20 years ago where, you know, I just finished watching Mad Men. In the Mad Men days, you had to hire a group of people to come to your office and be a focus group. Focus groups are happening everywhere online, on Instagram, on LinkedIn, on Facebook groups, on YouTube, on Amazon.
I would start to really dig into, what are related products in my world? For example, we just wrote a book, Conversational Marketing, right? I was plugging in all books related to that in Amazon.
Behind the Cloud, Marc Benioff's book about the story of Salesforce, what are people saying about that book? Who reviewed that book, what words are they using? You can start to kind of reverse engineer that stuff without ever having to leave your computer.
Louis: What type of things are you looking into? Let's say, to understand customers, to understand those people, you will start by just looking online at those reviews, competitor products and whatnot.
But what are you looking at in the reviews exactly? What type of things do you wanna know? The words they use, but that's not enough right?
Dave: Yeah, the words they use are very good for writing copy, right? But if you're talking about channels to acquire customers, I'm thinking about I'm trying to understand what conferences they go to.
I'm trying to understand which blogs they read, which newsletters they subscribe to, which podcasts they listen to, which videos they watch, which magazines they watch, which TV shows they watch.
Because there might be opportunities to do something, maybe with your money, maybe with that $10,000, maybe to create a show, maybe to go out and interview people. There isn't one perfect answer based on the scenario.
But I could see how you doing that, you come up with kinda 10 or 20 different options and you could think about what might be really powerful to make. Nobody has made a movie in this space, nobody has done a documentary. Okay, why? Is it because there isn't a market for that, or because just nobody's done it?
I think you have the opportunity to, you have to stand out, and so imagine that new company comes on the scene in an industry where nobody's made a movie about hooded sweatshirts before.
That would be amazing. That would get a ton of attention just because of the fact that you did something completely different as opposed to, "We set up landing pages. We're running ads. We're sponsoring some events."
I care so much about getting your attention because I think time is the most precious resource for a marketer, and it always has been, right? This is why, you go back and read any of the old school copyrighted books, they were not afraid of writing long copy because the mindset was, who reads long copy?
Buyers. The people who make it to the bottom are the people that you want. Man, there's so many things in there, but I just ultimately am trying to find, where can we be successful quickly?
I would rather do one thing that's gonna get a lot of attention than 15 things that are gonna maybe add up over time.
Louis: Right. Let's go back to the understanding people bit, because you said, looking at reviews, understanding what they say about competitor's products, so maybe you can identify the things that they don't like about the competitors?
You might identify words that they use that you can use in your copy. You might identify the jobs to be done, or the things that they actually want to achieve with this product. So, you can start to understand then. What other sources would you look into to truly understand people?
Dave: How many more are there?
Dave: I don't know. There's thousands.
Louis: Which one do we focus on? Because you don't have a lot of time right. You look at reviews on Amazon, fine, YouTube and whatnot, but do you think it's enough to truly understand people?
Dave: No, but I don't think you ever will. I don't think you ever, even if you've got 10 people and you talk to them in person, those 10 might say something different than 10 other people.
I think you've gotta make a best guess. I think, marketing today, there's enough ways to find indicators of success, that something's going to be successful.
Something that I do a lot now is I will write something, or I'll make a video or write something on LinkedIn and Twitter, and then really quickly I'll know, man, that's a good idea for my next speaking deck, or, that's the next great article that I think I might be able to write.
Because you can get 100 comments on it quickly. Or maybe you can't get 100 cause you don't have a big network, but you can get three, and most of your posts get none. Okay, I'm gonna double click on that, and that's a topic that we should create.
And then you can also do it really cheaply by testing ads. Putting $100 on some Facebook ads and test offer copy and headlines, and then figure out what you're gonna create.
I think marketing is very easy to test really quickly and get ideas about what might be successful, versus I'm gonna launch this campaign and I don't know what's gonna happen. If I think back to some of the more successful marketing campaigns that I've run at Drift, almost all of them I knew were gonna be successful before they were.
And that's not to say I have some magical skill of predicting success, but it's because, we did a podcast episode on that and everybody, like 10 people, asked questions, and we usually get no questions.
Okay, I'm gonna make a webinar about that topic and I guarantee it's gonna be successful. Right? That's not that I predicted it, It's just marketing can be related. Or, I gave a presentation and everybody, like 10 people, came up to me and they all asked this one question.
Well, shoot, I just figured out the next podcast I'm gonna record. Why most people ask about blank, right? It's just about trying to put together all these pieces of the puzzle.
Louis: Right. Going back to understanding people side, you mentioned, "I'll get to know where they hang out, I'll get to know who influenced them, I'll get to know the channel they are on," and whatever. How do you find that out?
Dave: How do you find what?
Louis: How do you find that out? How do you find the channels that they are on? How do you find the people that influence them?
Dave: You gotta search. Honestly, there's not much more science to it than Googling. Seriously. And I think most people would be like, "Yeah, this guy's telling me to Google something," but you can go on sites like Quora and Reddit, they're amazing sites to figure out.
Reddit has subreddits, right? I don't need to tell your audience this but if you are somebody that, let's talk about CrossFit, if you're on Reddit posting about CrossFit, you are the deepest of the deep people who love CrossFit.
If you are on Quora, and on Quora you're asking questions, Quora's a question and answer site, you're literally gonna get a million ideas just based on what people are asking the site, right? Same thing on Amazon.
The way you find the right people is you gotta go find something related to your thing. So, if I was trying to figure out, should we write a book about conversational marketing? I would go look at what did people say about Behind the Cloud? What did people say about Inbound Marketing?
What did people say about From Impossible to Inevitable, Jason Lemkin's book? And start to get in the ballpark of, I think these are gonna be related.
Especially, you are rarely creating something brand new from scratch. There's always some customer or competitor, or some pattern that you can learn from.
Everything's already been invented, and so one of the biggest principles that's been kinda beaten into my head by David Cancel, who's the CEO and Founder at Drift, is "innovate, don't invent."
We could be working on a new pricing page with the Drift website, I would be looking at Stripe, Slack, LinkedIn. How do their pricing pages work? Some of the best companies in our industry, that are kinda related, to understand what things can we kinda copy and innovate on, on top of them?
Louis: Right. Looking at Reddit, looking at communities online where people like to submit content, they ask questions, they basically share their worries in the world. They ask questions, they share concerns, and whatnot, so you can start reading their mind a bit more.
Now, let's say you have a better understanding of that. Let's say you know who they are, you know where they hang out, you know who influenced them, then you said, "I look at the gaps," right?
Between them and what my competitors are not doing. It sounds like it's not something you can really do just in an afternoon, or whatnot. Do you have a process for that? To truly see the gaps between the two things, to identify opportunities?
Dave: The other thing I just thought of is, back to your question about, if you can't find where your people are hanging out then your product's not gonna be successful. You're at the wrong company. You should be, as a marketer, there should already be some demand, or interest, or reason to build your product and to market your product.
Number one is, if you're like, "I just can't find where potential customers might be," then you better go get another job, cause that's not gonna work. Marketing is not magic, it's something that amplifies the need for a great product. So, there's that piece of it.
The second one, I'm not a very scientific framework type of guy so I don't have a system and a framework for that for me it's just being curious. I can't tell you I pull up a Google doc, and then I do this, then I do that. You can really quickly find stuff if you go and look for it.
Louis: So you look at, what, the competitors? It seems like, from your process, it seems like you're a visual person as well. You mentioned a few things visually, you say you look at the website, you look at a pricing page, you look at billboards, whatever. You look at what they do, channel wise.
Dave: It's an instinct. Some people do marketing differently than I do, and they can come back and run you a Datanyze report of all the websites that have X or Y. But for me, I can really quickly go to two, three companies in a space and get a sense for how they do marketing and what channels they use.
And that's just obviously from having done it a bunch. But, I think it's a little bit of an art and a science.
If you try to out-science this process, you're probably not gonna be very successful because it's not really just math, like, "We just use this channel, this will work." It's a little bit of both, and I also don't always think that just because someone is doing something in the space doesn't mean you can't do it.
Your competitor has a conference and podcast, does that mean that those two things are ruled out for you? No. Just how are you gonna be different, right? What is your take on it gonna be, what is your unique selling proposition gonna be to that audience, and how are you gonna do things differently?
There would not be a company at Drift if we worried about what other people in this space were doing, because there's literally 7,000 companies in martech, and I think we compete with almost all of them.
If we worried about, well, they all have a blog, they all have this, they all have that, then we would be nowhere. And so, I think there's always opportunities to do something better, and to find your channel. The way that I sum it up is, if my philosophy as a marketer is, if everybody in the industry is going left, I wanna go right.
Louis: It's funny because it's frustrating as an interviewer, this answer, cause I know what you're saying. I like to deconstruct it so listeners can understand and do it, but I would do the same.
Two years ago, the reason why this podcast came to be is that I used to listen to marketing podcasts, and I was always like, what the fuck is this? I don't like it. It's full of shit, the people don't listen to each other. You ask a question, you get an answer, you move on to another question.
It's all on the surface, you never dig into it. It's like 20 minute long, or like 5 minute long, and you don't dig. Anyway, I was very frustrated by all of that, and I did the opposite of it.
So, when you say "when everyone goes right, I go left," I completely get it. But what I'm trying to do here as well is trying to encourage people to be more curious so that they think about those things. And not only they think about them, but also they take the risk to do it.
I follow you online, I see what you are doing, and I can see you as a risk taker, right? Someone who is not really willing to just stay with the status-quo and try new shit. So, how will you convince people to do that?
When you have a hunch, when you have a gut feel that "This is bullshit, I fucking hate this, I don't like companies doing this, I believe in the other way," how do you convince people to actually take the leap, and say, "You know what, try it. Try this one campaign and go against the grain?"
That's such a good question cause that's where most people get stuck. They're like, "Man, I wanna do it a better way," and here's what most people do. Let's just use events, right? Or, here's a better example, let's use your podcast, right?
You gotta pitch this to your boss, cause you can do it, right? "Everybody has a podcast, I wanna start one. Okay, it's gonna take me four weeks to do it," and you feel like you owe them a business case. "It's gonna take me four weeks, I need this much money for gear, I'm gonna need to promote it." That right there is where most people stop.
The only reason that I'm able to get ideas going is because I can just do them myself. And I do them in a way that, I just do them behind the scenes and then I show somebody, “Hey, so I've had this crazy idea, I already tested it. I think there's gonna be something there."
Because anytime you go to somebody with an idea that's just like, I don't know, I'll give you another example. I had this podcast that I did about startups in Boston called Tech In Boston, I did it on my own so it didn't matter what people thought of it, but everybody hated the name.
They were like, "That name is stupid. What does that mean, Tech In Boston?" Fast forward two years later, when it was pretty big in Boston and had thousands of subscribers, and whatever. People were like, “Of course, I love Tech In Boston," right? But that's because it because it became something.
Whether it's DC, or whoever else at Drift that I need to convince, I rarely go in there cold. And it could just be, "Look, I have this crazy idea because I did this video, it already got like 200 comments, I think we should invest $1000 and make this an online course."
Great, you've already proven it. Especially today, this is easy. Marketing is all technology based today. You can test anything with a Google Doc and Zapier, or record a video on your iPhone, spend $100 on a test.
I think people get lost, where they try to fully bake, "I'm gonna launch this podcast," instead of doing what you did, Louis, they go away for four months, they record 40 episodes, they're all crap, there's no feedback loop, they don't know if it's actually working.
Where, my whole thing is, let's make three episodes. Can we get 50 people to listen? And then I'm gonna go tell them, "By the way I've been doing this on the side, I'm thinking there's something here. Can I invest in this more?"
Louis: Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I've done. I was scared shitless when I launched, and, I remember, I didn't even ask for feedback on the name or whatever, cause I didn't want people to say, "You know what, I'm not too sure."
I guess this is something I say on the podcast quite a lot. If you have butterflies in you stomach before you launch something, like you have this good feeling, you need to fucking go for it. But, now, two years after, everyone is like, "Oh, yeah, yeah, I love your podcast, I love the name," and whatever. But two years ago that wasn't the case.
To go back to what you said, because it's super interesting, first you'll understand people. Two you'll understand where the gaps are. And three it sounds like, even though you don't necessarily have a process, you do have one. The third one is actually to test something small that is related to that, right?
Dave: Yeah. The other thing, yes, it's test. But then some people don't like this about me cause I don't finish a lot of things but I just do a million things.
I try a podcast, a video, a blog post, a SlideShare deck, an article, whatever. Because I think you've gotta do a lot of things to figure out what's really gonna work. I write a lot of crazy ideas that I don't end up following through on because there's just not enough time. I think you've gotta have the mindset of, there is not one magic channel.
Talk to any great marketer. They have to just constantly reinvent themselves, right? Everything in marketing, if it goes on for a while it eventually gets stale.
Andrew Chen calls this the "law of shitty click throughs with paid advertising." You know, after two months of course the ads aren't gonna work anymore. They're gonna be stale, and I think the same is true as a marketer.
You've gotta reinvent yourself. I'm way more obsessed with creativity than I was probably, even a year and a half ago, or two years ago, whatever. Because I realized that the only secret that I have as a marketer is to just be able to come up with ideas faster than anybody else.
And the way that I can do that is by being obsessed with learning, being obsessed with reading, being obsessed with observing what other marketers are doing.
It's like, you can't just come up with that one idea because it's never gonna be a magic bullet. Sometimes it works that way, but I gotta be able to have 10 ideas so I can go to the founders and say, "Alright, I wanna do this."
And when they're inevitably like, "No," then I'm not like, "Oh shoot, okay now what?"
"Okay, let me give you the other idea that I'm just as excited about," and they're like "No."
"Let me give you another idea." I think if you can continue to be creative, then you're gonna be able to maneuver yourself out of a lot of marketing problems now. And now I've just kind of become the idea monkey.
People will come up to my desk and be like, "Dave, I need an idea. Just dance monkey, give me an idea on the spot." I'm like, "It's not that easy." But that's the thing that I wish I cared about more in my career, earlier on.
I wish I was more obsessed with creativity than worrying about how to run a great, perfectly trackable AdWords campaign. And I'm not knocking that, it's just not the thing that I'm good at. I think creativity has earned me a lot of opportunities because if one idea doesn't work then I'm gonna try another, and I'm never gonna get stuck until we can figure it out.
Louis: Where do you keep your ideas? Do you have notes on the iPhone, or whatever?
Dave: So, what happened was I started to be on my computer just too much. I'd be like, "I have an idea, gotta put it in Evernote. I have an idea, gotta put it in Trello." What I do, and I don't have it with me in this room right now, it's in the other room but, I just keep a notebook.
And my notebook is where everything goes first. And so, if during this podcast I had an idea, I would scribble it down in my notebook, because then I've put it down and I'm not worried about I'm gonna forget it. Later, then I kinda go and process it and think, yeah that was a really good idea.
A lot of times, you sleep on it and you wake up. Does it ever happen to you? You think you have an idea, you go to sleep. You wake up the next day and you're like, "I actually don't really care about that anymore. Whatever, next."
I do that all the time, and so I've found that just putting it in my notebook gives my brain like, "Okay, it's in a safe place. You're not gonna lose the idea but if you want it, it'll be there."
And then I use Trello to just kind of organize my projects and stuff. It either goes on there or I transfer it to Evernote so I can search it for later. But my notebook is kinda like my scratchpad for notes, ideas, and to do this stuff.
Louis: It seems like the question I asked about the confidence to actually launch stuff, and not waiting fourth months to build something and then realizing it doesn't work. It seems like you've encountered a lot of people feeling this way maybe in your team, internally, maybe outside.
What do you tell them to actually convince them to get out there and just test stuff? How do you convince them to do that?
Dave: You gotta show them. One thing that I'll do, I'll be like, "Okay, you're stuck on this idea, let's go get in a room, let's get a whiteboard. And you and I, for 20 minutes, are gonna just make some stuff up. Ready? Alright, go. Let's try to write a hundred variations of this headline."
You have to get somebody involved in that process with you because they're not gonna feel it if you just tell them. It's like, "Okay, so I'm gonna go back to my desk and come up with more ideas?"
I try to help them through it, and I'm like "Alright, but what about if we did this? And have you thought about this?" It's really just just like crazy creative processes to get ideas flowing.
If you're by yourself, the way that I would do it would be... there's a great lesson from James Altucher, who's an author, podcast host, whatever. He does this mental exercise, that everyday he makes a list of 10 ideas and they've always gotta be about a specific topic.
It could be about, here's this remote. I have the TV remote in my hand, if you can't see me on video. And he'd be like, "Right now, write down 10 ideas about how you would market this remote."
Wait, what? Why would I do that? Because it forces you to think through and break through stuff. Anytime I'm stuck, I try to use that exercise. Which is, I get off the computer, I either go to the whiteboard or get a piece of paper, and I write down 10, 20, however many ideas.
Hey, we're trying to figure out speakers for our conference HYPERGROWTH right now. I could pull up a spreadsheet and have a meeting about it, or I could just be like, okay, I'm just gonna go nuts right now, and on a white piece of paper I'm just gonna write down a million ideas of speakers.
Then I've got it down on paper and I can pick out three to five. So, it's always gotta be this like, whether you're writing or talking about it, just like going for a walk, getting in a room, writing it down.
Actually getting those things out. And go back and read any creative or advertising book of all time. You gotta spit out all the bad ideas, and that's where you find the one or two. The one or two good ideas never just hit you. But they hit you if you've written 50 bad ones, and then all of a sudden you'll find one.
Louis: And I think that's where the principle of morning pages are super useful, right? I did that quite a lot.
Dave: Yes, that's a great one.
Louis: It's funny. Morning pages is you write like, every morning, two pages, like two pages of text. I think it's 700 words, something like that. I'm not too sure. It's funny cause the first half, the first third of it, is shit.
Usually, your brain, it's just shit. Second half is a bit better. And the last third is, finally, you're getting to clarity. You're writing shit down that are super useful, your brain is starting to process. And it seems like it's a bit the same with your process.
You just throw a lot of ideas on the board. Most of them are gonna be shit, but as you said, you will recognize the gold from the turds.
Dave: Totally. I just wrote something the other day. For me, the process of writing is never in this flow state. It's usually like, a bunch of ideas from over here, a bunch of ideas from over here, a bunch of ideas from over here, and then I kinda piece them together.
For me, writing is more like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. So I always try to get a bunch of ideas.
The other thing is, since I really cared about reading, reading has been an amazing hack for creativity. Because, like I said earlier, everything has already been done. And so, the reason I love reading books is because, and I hated reading until David also beat this one into my head, a book has withstood the test of time.
Show me a book. A good example is right now I'm reading, I've never read it cause I never read in school but, I'm reading 1984 by George Orwell, which was written in 1949. And, that book is so relevant to what's happening today, 2019.
I'm reading a book that's almost been around a hundred years, right? 67 years, and it's just as relevant today. I'm getting so many ideas from that book. I think, I try to go back and find role models who have withstood the test of time. Whether it's books or people, or speakers, or whatever. And the way I'm able to get more ideas is I'm just leaning on history. I've never created anything original, it's always something that's already been done, right?
I saw a great example the other day. There's this company called ClickFunnels, and the founder is Russell Brunson, and they have an event coming up, and they decided to do a telethon to sell tickets to their event.
It's genius. They didn't invent the telethon, but they created this thing around it to sell tickets. Also, because marketing is all about understanding people, anything in life can be marketing. I look at what influences my wife, and my best friend, and they don't care anything about marketing, but I look and see what gets their attention.
My best friend is a finance guy. He doesn't understand anything that I do, but I'm obsessed with understanding, what blogs is he reading? Why does he listen to that podcast? Why does he go to that event every year?
Because you can understand what motivates people. So, it's a combination of learning from books, and then learning from observing what people are doing. Also, what's your title? Everybody Hates Marketing? Everybody Hates Marketers?
Louis: Everyone Hates Marketers.
Dave: Everyone Hates Marketers, right. The ultimate thing is you are a person, so observe what marketing things you react to. Because I think the biggest gap with marketing today is that most of us, we would not react to 99% of the marketing activities that we're spitting out into the world everyday. That email that you just sent to invite people to your webinar tomorrow, two questions.
Number one, would you open that email? Would you respond to that email? Would you attend the webinar? Would you actually get value out of that webinar? Was that actually worth 30 minutes or are you just trying to do something that you think your customers would like?
I think about that a lot. And try to only make stuff that I, myself, as a very picky buyer and potential customer, would actually respond to.
Louis: There's also something there about how people are willing to admit that they are influenced by ads. I'm gonna absolutely butcher this story, but it's basically about Guinness. You know, the drinks, the beer.
It's about this guy in a pub who's saying, "I don't listen to ads, I don't watch any ads," and then 10 minutes after I would say, "Why do you drink Guinness?" "Oh, because it's good for me." And that's because you've been fed this information the last 20 years on TV, and you repeat it but you don't realize you've been influenced.
I think there is also something here to notice. It's like, asking people what they've been influenced by. And actually looking at the curiosity of it, observing them, is much more valuable.
You can see that. You watch a TV ad and 20 seconds after you say, "Actually, we might wanna go back to this restaurant." That was 20 second ago. And you don't necessarily, your brain doesn't want you to know that you're being sold to, but you fucking are.
Dave: What you said is so good. It's like, what do people actually go and react to? You know? I'm looking out the window right now, and let's just say there's a line of 100 people outside. Why? Why are they at that store, what did that store do?
Oh, they had a grand opening and they gave away two smoothies to the first 100 people. Okay, that's a good idea. I wonder how we could do that. Go and see what people actually do, right. There's always like the Steve Jobs quote, or whatever.
Which is like, if they listen to — I’m going to butcher it. He's like, "if Henry Ford listened to what people wanted, they would have been still riding horses and buggies," or something like that. But I think you got to observe.
Also, there is no more B2B, B2C, whatever. We're all people, cause technology has just kinda evened out the playing field for every company. And everybody's glued to their phones today. It's easier than ever to observe what gets people to actually react, because you don't have to physically see them.
You can see which content on Instagram gets a ton of comments, right? Like, I know that on my Instagram people don't like when I post pictures about marketing, they want pictures of my daughter. Okay? So if I was trying to grow my Instagram, what would my strategy be?
To post more pictures of my daughter, right? It's simple. You can see that stuff without having to have people say it.
Louis: So, to go back to the initial challenge, right? Where you join a company as a marketer, $10,000 dollars. Sounds like you would spend time understanding people, you would look at competitors, you would identify a gap, something you can actually go after.
It sounds like a lot of the marketing that you do, the ideas that you generate, the type of campaigns you do, from an outside perspective, they always seems to be against something, or, as you said, people go right and you go left.
Not against, but opposites. Do you feel like, to actually stand out, pick a gap, and go for a campaign. Make a big dent. Do you feel it's necessary to pick an enemy and go after it? Or to actually go black if others are doing white? What's the thinking there?
Dave: I do think you always need an enemy, but I think most people mix that up with, you have to state your competitor's name publicly. There's always an enemy, and the enemy can be you before versus you after, the enemy is lazy you.
Don't be lazy you. If you're trying to market a gym, don't be lazy you, be productive you and work out five times a week. It's more just picking a side.
And there's a great, really great, lesson that I learned from this guy, Ryan Deiss, who's the CEO of DigitalMarketer, amazing copywriter. He thinks about before and after states for all the like, what do people feel before and after they use your product?
What status do they have before and after they use your product? What results do they get before and after using your product?
You always do have to pick a side, whether that's an "enemy." Like at Drift. For example, we decided that, back in the day, our enemy was not gonna be a named company, but was gonna be forms. Lead forms, that was our enemy.
That's something that anybody can rally around. Whether you believe it, agree with it, or not, that was something that people could rally around, right? Let's say you have a non-profit, and you wanna save the world and stop the pollution that's happening, right?
Your enemy is gonna be plastic bottles. That's not a specific company, but you're picking a side, and I think you do have to pick sides, you don't necessarily have to pick an enemy.
Louis: You do have to pick a side, but it seems like a lot of marketers are doing this. Right? The status-quo is so telling, isn't it?
Dave: Yeah, which is fine cause they should keep doing that. Because then if everybody picked a side I wouldn't be any good at what I'm doing. So it's fine, but I think it's just the fear of just anything, any project, if you're afraid of standing out or afraid of being different.
There's risk, there's definitely risk involved, right? What if I had a crazy idea and it flopped? And I post a lot of things publicly, then I gotta deal with a lot of people telling me it didn't work.I totally understand that.
But I also, I don't understand how you can win if you're gonna be the same as everybody else. And there's always the takes on it, right? Like, Uber and Lyft is a similar thing to taxis, but it's different, right? It's on demand, it's hip, it's cool, it's modern. There's a brand to it, they know who you are, whatever. There's little patterns that you can learn from.
Louis: I want to go back to something you said about competitors. As you said, people think that pick an enemy would probably mean picking a competitor, and whatnot. But there's something else to mention here, I wanna say it, is marketers often misinterpret the word competitor.
They think it would mean direct competition, like Drift versus, I'm not even gonna name cause I don't even know but, Drift versus another alternative, right?
Actually, it's not that. It's what they are doing instead of you, and, sometimes, they are doing nothing instead of you. Sometimes they are using something completely different instead of you, right?
And that will mean that you need to position yourself against that. Against what they are doing instead of you, and sometimes it's not using a competitor, it could be something else.
Dave: Yeah. It could be a routine, it could be something they're doing. They're not going to the gym, how do you position against that? How do you show that side? How do you show good versus evil, before versus after? It can always be that.
Louis: Alright, if you had to pick the best three ideas you ever had, or you had in the last year, that worked really well, give me the last three that were pretty good.
Dave: One of them was use LinkedIn Video. Probably it was October 2017, they had added it in August, I noticed it one day and I was like, "wait a sec, I've never used this." And I said, "I'm just gonna start posting here, and I'm gonna post videos just talking about whatever."
I'm treating it like I would treat Instagram or whatever, but talk's specific about Drift and marketing. So that was a good one. A lot of people thought that that was stupid, like, "Who's this idiot walking down the street on his phone, what an ego,"
I ignored almost all those things, and now it's become an insane channel for us as a business. Now I post there consistently and it works. So, LinkedIn videos, one.
Writing a book is another one. Who needs another marketing book? And it's one of, the number one best seller on Amazon in marketing and sales, top 20 business book in the world. It's because we didn't listen.
We said that, "I don't know, people need this marketing book. Maybe they don't need another one, but they need this one." I'm trying to think of another one.
Louis: Let me give you one, for you.
Dave: Oh, you got one.
Louis: One that I saw recently, and I actually screenshot it and add it to my list of good ideas, genuinely, I mean it, was the van that you're using for conferences.
Dave: Oh, yeah. That was a good one actually.
Louis: Explain what it is briefly.
Dave: So, this year SaaStr, which is a big conference in our space, SaaS, we found out that it was gonna be in San Jose. But most of the people that go to it, usually, live in the San Francisco area. Which is like an hour away.
We didn't actually know if we would drive people or whatever but it was just be a funny kinda play if we created the Drift van. We said "we'll give you a ride from San Francisco to San Jose."
So we rented a van, we wrapped it with Drift branding, we did #driftvan. And we said, you can go to, I think it's drift.com/saastr, you should be able to see it. We drove people to SaaStr, we drove it around the conference, we drove it to and from the airport. I took it to the gym in the morning. That was a good one.
The other one that we did was, instead of sponsoring, we found some real estate kinda outside around the conference. We got that for like four weeks leading up to the conference.
Which didn't make them super happy, but it got us a lot of attention. We were able to play on a different feel than everybody else that was there because of that. So that was also a fun one.
Louis: Right, Dave. Thanks so much for your time. Last year we recorded an episode together, you mentioned a few resources for people to check out. So, I'm not gonna ask you again, I think people can check again. You mentioned a lot of resources in your episode. Thanks for your time once again, do you have anything else to add, or?
Dave: No. I wish more people made their podcasts actual conversations like you do. So keep fighting the good fight, and let's try to get people to love marketing again.
Louis: Alright, let's do that. Thanks man.
Dave: See you later.
Louis: Speak later, bye.