B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1726 · 3 weeks ago

Authenticity Builds Brand, with Devin Reed

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Benji talks to Devin Reed, Head of Content Strategy at Gong.

We discuss, how to build credibility by being authentic and how to create a culture where creativity and innovation thrive.

Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is be to be growth. Welcome back, to be to be growth. I'm your host, Benjie Block, today excited to be joined by Devin Reid. Had A content strategy at Gong. Devn welcome to the Showman, Yo. What's going on, Benjie? Fantastic, excited to have you here and I want to say congratulations. I was checking out linkedin before this and I'm like, man, you've been at gone almost five years. So like you have you have seen some growth, you has seen some things. I know this year you guys were running super bowl ads and all sorts of stuff. So, okay, give me. Give me like your favorite thing about your job right now and the work that you're doing. The favorite thing about my job, and and I pitched this, when you know I'm recruiting folks to join my team, because it's true. It's like we are specifically coached to do the opposite of what everyone else and be to be is doing. So never has someone been like, Hey, go look at Xyz Company, go do what they're doing, or go, you know, copy, but don't copy this company. Like we're really told go look what everyone's doing. And Finding Different Angle. And so the reason that keeps me engaged is I'm not trying to support the existing be to be marketing, I'm trying to reshape it. I'm trying to do something different. So every day I'm waking up, hey, what's a beatacy trend that I can get inspired from? What is okay, everyone's going right and be to be on Linkedin? Let's go left and let's do a completely different and so that keeps me engage and, you know, the creative juice is flowing, as they say. And so yeah, that's that's my favorite part. Okay, I love that as a jumping off point and I love rabbit trails, just so you know, Devin. So we're just going to go right for it right from the beginning of this episode. So it's twofold right. So one part for me would be, okay, have you? Have you always been that way? And then to how do you allow or train your team to be that way? So let's go with you personally first. As far as I have you always kind of gone okay, everyone's going right, I'm going to go left. Yeah, yeah, I have, which is, you know, sus. Suits me well for my current role I was like getting tattoos and high school I was like, you know, and not to be like a Badass, but like I didn't can't, like I wanted to do what I wanted to do and what I thought was cool, which was, you know, I've always been into sneakers, so I would show up in school like, you know, Tel and pink sneakers that are like patent leather. I would show up with like a tattoo that was visible. Now I'm covered in tattoos. Now the super cool and like accepted. When I was getting them, they were like ten years ago it wasn't quite as broadly accepted. But I remember this one time in elementary school, like really little, and I remember just this thought of like I saw everyone lining up a certain way. I think the teachers like asking people to line up in a certain way, and it was chaos, like it was just not working at all, and I was always like why are we doing it that way? That makes no sense at all. We should be doing it this way. I'm like six years old, what do I know? I'm probably like completely wrong, but I just remember having that like little epiphany moment of like I'm really confident in my perspective, and it's not arrogance, it's not that I'm always right, I'm just really confident in let's be observant for a second, let's see what everyone's doing and if it's obvious that's the right thing to do, you know, go do it. Don't be different for the sake of, you know, at the detriment of yourself. But I'm always just have this perspective of I'm going to do it my way, I'm going to enjoy it, and I think when I'm enjoying it, then I'm more successful. Right, like I'm the the output is better when I'm really more bought into that and doing my own thing. Hmm, I love that. Okay, so then let's go just outward for a second then, because when you bring somebody on the team and you're trying to not everyone's going to come in with that as their backstory and you want to allow people to sort of get in that mode. You want to create that culture. How do you, I don't want to say train somebody's eye, but in a sense you are. You're allowing them to see things differently, right, and you're like hey, this is maybe a different way to look at it. And and...

...so how do you go about trying to do that? So starts in the interview process and I tell people that reshape be to be marketing. Re shape be to be marketing. Like that's really foundational to our team. We also have a operating principle at Gong called Challenge Conventional Wisdom. So it's based on this whole thing. Right. It's like don't do things the way that it's always been done just for the sake of doing it that way. Right. And so it starts an interview process like Hey, this is what we're about. We do things differently. Now most people, especially on the mark getting world, they know gone for the most part before they come talk to me. So they're usually like yeah, I see what you all doing, I want to be a part of that. So that's usually kind of the doors already open. But what I've found is that there's a lot of fantastic marketers, really smart, creative people who, by the time they come talk to me, maybe two hundred, twenty five, maybe ten years in their career, they've been boxed in over and over again with like now, don't do that, do it this way. No, don't be that. You know, in their in their ideas and creativity just get suppressed over years and so used to doing safe marketing, and so there is a bit of an untraining process when they come work with me where I'm like okay, we're like forget all that stuff. I want you to think big. I want you to come up with, you know, what seemed like crazy ideas. Think of the best, biggest thing we could do, and then we'll back into like how does this operation allies? How do we measure it, and that sort of thing, because that's how really great ideas come about, when you start with like why know I need to get this metric done and I know that I can do a cookie cutter Webinar and I'm doing like robotic arms for people who can't see me right now. Like that's really hard to get too big, great ideas that are going to grab attention and like really move the market, and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to educate the market and move it in our direction, not just add to the noise. HMM, story for you, I think it's the it's eat. I know, I wish I knew. It's either uber or air BNB, but I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about this one up system that they use, that I actually used when I proposed to my wife, where I literally just grabbed a piece of paper and I wrote like level one proposal idea and then like, you know, just the bare bones. This would be a basic proposal, and I just go like level to and I just like, okay, what's one way I could one up this? And I worked it up to like level eight, level nine. I'm going, okay, now it's getting pretty unrealistic, but like could we do level seven right, like could we? Yeah, I like that's even just some sort of strategy like that when someone's been boxed in for a long time and you just ask them, okay, what's one way you could make your content strategy a little bit better? What's one way, as a marketer, that you could change, you know, some of your copic just allowing yourself to one up in some small ways. Eventually you look back and go like Oh man, yeah, my first idea kind of sucked, like that first thing was. Yeah, I didn't mean to talk over but that's exactly go when we do brainstorms right, and it's kind of tough, specially virtual and like I'm the leader of the teams. I think sometimes people kind of wait for what I'm going to say, but I try to be quiet and go last. And as people are starting to kind of like though those first ideas out there, you know, it's like the wheels just starting getting turning. I tell people like hey, that's a good idea. Our first idea is rarely our best idea. So let's keep going, like to your point, keep thinking bigger. What would be even more different? What you know? What is it again, going back to has this been done before? Oh Yeah, I seen this done. I've seen it here here. Okay, then let's go. We got to go left or right, like we can't just keep doing more of the same. And so it does take people a little bit of time, I think, to allow themselves right to think. They like to get to level nine. You know what I mean, because they've never been pushed to do that. People are like just level one in two. Let's just do level one in two and then let's do a lot of one and two. It's all you're doing is creating a lot of mediocrity. I'd rather have blips of greatness than waves of mediocrity. Yeah, it's good. Yeah, don't tell me you have no creative ideas. Show me a list of all the things you've you know, you can think of, like once you have that list going, you'll realize like how much creativity is inside you. That's why I love working and in marketing, because there's so many people that are like figuring out creative ways to make new stuff and like whether I'm be Toc...

...or be to be like coming into be tob you know, it's a little bit like kind of what you're mentioning is it can feel a little more like restrictive or but you still find pockets of it where, like, man, they're thinking outside the box, they're doing creative stuff, and that those are the most fun conversations that have talk to me a little bit about. Let's go content side of things, because there is personal and then there's like company, there's gone, there's brand. How do you think of those two differently? And I'm going to keep using your language of like okay, you see people going right and now we're going left, so let's talk personal. First, for you, devn like, when it comes to Linkedin, you fiftyzero plus followers at this point, like you're doing some things you've tried a lot of different things. What was your pivot? Like? I'm seeing a lot of people doing this and now for me personally, I'm going to go the opposite way. So what I did was I looked at Linkedin, which is my platform of choice. So if I say social or anything moving forward, I'm pretty much on email and linkedin. Those are two channels and I can talk about why I'm big on those two channels specifically, not me personally big, but why I'm all in on those channels. Yeah, and so I'm I was a sales rep right for the first six years of my career and I've been on Linkedin a little bit, mostly prospecting sounding not really like writing a lot of content, but I was consuming a lot of content, seeing what people are writing about, and I kind of saw that it was relatively dry, and I just mean that is like there wasn't a lot of pop to it, right, like you wouldn't read someone and be like, Oh, that Benjy Guy, like know, the way he writes is amazing. You just saw like how many logos on papers and blogs and all kind of read the same. Like if you if you put your hand over the website url or like logo. I bet you couldn't really tell the difference of like commodity content. Yep, right, and so I was like, okay, I'm just noticing this, observing. And then when I moved into the marketing roll, I started being you know, I'm on Webinars for Gong, I'm writing blogs for going, and so I saw it as an opportunity to say, well, I didn't really like learning about the X Y Z company blog. No offense to any of them, but I would really enjoy when I learned about the person, like the author, the podcast host, the show host, like that's who you oftentimes tune in for. The show is just the thing around them. And so when I was on link going back to like Linkedin in myself, I was like, hey, why don't I be different? Why not be who I am half more fun doing it, and try to be relatable and try to stand out in that order. And so what I when I say related able? I think a lot of people again, we're just like share, you know. Again, I'm talking three, four years ago on Linkedin, when it was like job, just it was like who's hiring? Webinars and like just, I don't know, kind of mediocre content, like no one was really a building a brand. That wasn't even a thing three years ago. So I was like I'm just gonna have fun with it, and so I would try to be as relatable as possible, which was sharing my stories and experiences with like a bit of a humor, you know, like a comedic twist to it, because I think I'm funny. I always tell people I can guarantee jokes, I can't promise laughs, and so I would just have fun with it right, which is like, Hey, just got hung up on for the third time this morning. Anyone with me? And I just put it out there like randomly, and no one was writing like that on Linkedin, and so I really quickly started building this audience of like other sales pros and go to market pros who are like, Oh, yeah, that's really relatable, I've been there. or Oh, Devin just got hung up on three times in a row and now he's sharing what he would do instead. That's super helpful, and so I started kind of turning these experiences from just sharing them for the entertainments sake and started adding an educational part of it as well, which was like, you know, I just posted this morning. Hey, know, hey, I'm not a DM, but I have a budget. Here's the best way to email me. If you want to get on, you know, get a meeting with me, and I just broke down here the steps and it's starting to go. You know, people love that because I'm helping them through my experience versus just hey, I've sent true thousand emails in my career and here's the best way to you know, here's the best way to write an email and like try to act like I know it all. That's my standing on...

...a soapbox voice, and so it's like so that relatable factor has played really, really well, and I think that's really helpful for people who are getting started. Is I lean on your niche knowledge and your experience to help other people. That's the best content strategy. Hey, everybody, Benjie here. As a member of the sweet fish team. I wanted to take a second and share something that makes us insanely more efficient. Our team uses lead Iq. For those that are in sales, or you're in sales offs, let me give you context. What once took us four hours to gather contact data now just takes one. That's seventy five percent more efficient. We are so much quicker without bound prospecting and organizing our campaigns is so much easier than before. I highly suggest that you check out lead Iq as well. You can find them at lead iqcom. That's L ADIQCOM. All right, let's jump back into the show. So that relatable factor has played really, really well and I think that's really helpful for people who are getting started. Is I lean on your niche knowledge and your experience to help other people. That's the best content strategy. It is the best content strategy. I think we're going back to like what you were saying about if you covered the logo. What's happening on Linkedin a bit now is people are understanding like entertainment and education works. If you get in the right bubbles on of content on Linkedin right you're still can you could run into endless webin our links and whatever if you are in the wrong network, but if you're following the right people, you're going to get a lot of like helpful content that. But what I've noticed is like now you the personality of the person really matters, like you have to be willing to kind of put yourself out there and I've even noticed this. With your content, is like you've gone pretty like personal, as in, like you're going to highlight your wife or the fact that you really love sneakers or like those types of things that aren't necessarily like the content you would see on Linkedin as far as even educational or entertainment, but allowing someone to see your life, which is thinking about Linkedin, I think, and thinking about content differently than a few years ago, where maybe all you had to do was be educational or entertaining, and now video as a big component of that too. I don't that's a little bit of a riff, but that's just what I'm noticing. Is the personality in business and in be to be where that's hasn't mattered, is starting to matter more and more. One hundred percent, and it was. It was intentional, right, and it's not. It's not to share or two like oversharing for the sake of like, look how great my life is, anything like that. If you read it's like pick yet picture of my wife. Yeah, why? Because you did her first Webinar and I was super proud of her, so I want to give her a shower, right and like, at the same time she's a woman of color and tech, and so I'm realizing, Hey, I've got fifty fivezero followers. If I amplify that, this great woman of Color has this new platform, I can hopefully inspire other women, and you know, either other women of Color in tech that they can do the same or other people who might not be you know, white people are not people of color, to say hey, maybe we should give them a platform. Right, like other people are doing it right. So that was, you know, had multiple advantages, obviously aside from just genuinely being proud of my wife. That example, this side, because I don't want to make it seem like I'm using the family to stand out. But like the sneakers aspect right, like I've unboxing videos of me, like hey, I got a pair of sneakers here, here they are. My thought is, you know, there's a lot of content creators on Linkedin, there's a lot of content leaders on Linkedin. There's really not a lot of content leaders talking about sneakers on Linkedin. Like I immediately kind of stand alone, and so my thought is, what are ways I can differentiate myself to stand out but again still provide some sort of edutain edutainment, as I call it, you know, educational, entertaining content, and when I first put it out I was like people probably going to laugh or I think this like the stupidest thing, like what are sneakers doing on my linkedin feed? But people love it, people respond. All you have the Nikes, I were these new balance or I just bought a pair of these and I'm like wow, who would have thought there were such an appetite forever sneakers on a Linkedin feed? But you know, there's there's...

...tons of there's tons of room for for content like that. Are you like encouraging your team to be active in Tho like on Linkedin as well? If so, like how do you guys go about doing that and in equipping or training like on that side? For for more, like you're kind of going there's an advantage to personal brands that are also, you know, tied to Gong. So how do you how do you think of that? Yeah, so it's kind of to one is like my team. I have a team five marketers, and then there's like the Gong team, like and those are two different answers. So for the folks on my team, I mean first of all, having a digital brand will help you get on my radar if you're trying to get a job here. Like no one on my team did. I hire that a huge personal brand. The managing editor, Chris, that I just hired from Linkedin has over a hundred thousand followers, but that's because he wrote a newsletter for Linkedin for a long time, right, and so that was like, oh, that's a great asset, but you don't win a you don't win a job just over that. And so what I've told my team is, look, if you want to build a digital brand, I know how and I'm you know, I'm happy to show you and help you, but you don't have to, like. I don't want you to feel pressured, and most of them just like, aren't super interested in that. One Galon my team has a quite successful podcast for southeast women, Southeast Asian women, ex season, and so like that's her version of her brand. She's been on Forbes India, like she's probably more famous than me in certain pockets of the world for short, but it's not on Linkedin, right, and so I think it's like presenting the opportunity and encouraging them if they want to do it. The way, you know, but also open, you know, letting them, you know, go to podcast, go, do you know, newsletters, whatever it is for the draw me to talk about me, the Gong team to because let's do that les. Yeah, it is different, but I'd love to hear it on that side as well. So it was very intentional. So there's a it sounds very markety, but I there happens to be three e's, a threee framework. Of course there's wool these. Yeah, yeah, it just happened to I was writing it down on days like they hang it. They all start with E, which makes it sound like I like made it up on purpose. But it's to empower, enable and equip. And so empowering is, Hey, when you join Gong, you're going to see the people and leadership positions posting on Linkedin, right, so they're leading by example. We're empowering you because we're saying hey, we're doing it to other leaders in the company. You're doing it. We're building on personal brands or talking about Gong. We're educating the market. So immediately you feel empowered to do it. You're not worried of, as Devin is, my boss going to see my clankton post is somebody in h are going to Ping me because I talked about politics and there's we have some parameters. We Guide people. There's no there's no restrictions for certain topics and the next one is equipped. So then we when everyone joins Gong, there's two sessions as part of their on boarding. One is just the marketing strategy. Here's what we do, why we do it. Hey, we're on linkedin. You'll get some messages from Devin from time to time to share some content. Completely optional, but here's why. Right then, when people are understanding, the other session is specifically with two people from my team, I think, one now, which is here's how to use linkedin. Nothing about Gong. It's just here's some best practices filling out your profile, things to talk about, things to be cautious of talking about. You're welcome to do it, but like things like political we've an optional yeah, it's just a guidings because a lot of people join in the go. Hey, I've seen gongs big on Linkedin. I'm not really familiar with how can you teach me what I don't know? Type of thing. Right. So it's just kind of getting over that initial hurdle and providing like a thirty, forty five minute session to ask questions and get that in from mintion. The last one is enable, which is how we amplify, you know, Gong Messaging, which is, you know, we have a certain process where we share things the email and slag has to be tier one and tier two messaging, like new product release, funding, maybe gone labs, research, stuff like that, and we make it really easy by giving them the one one and writing prompts so they can, I think, this information, make it their own and go publish it on Linkedin. Again, completely optional, but again because they see our CEO, they see Dev and they see Sarah Brazier,...

...they see their peers doing it, they're like, oh, I could do it to it's on. It's not even a big deal, and so then you start creating this kind of like fly will effect. You know, people from outside of going see what people in going are doing and they become part of it and then the wheel just continues to spend. MMM, I like that. Even those three e's are applicable regardless of what company or and if you don't have that at scale, even just having maybe one person that you can again like a big part of leadership right is being able to see things and people. If you see that ability, they're like I would just build that into that person. Say Hey, like, can you start to really engage in a different way and equip our team in a new way to be effective over like on Linkedin or whatever, your kind of channel of choices. But having that as a as a starting places, is wonderful. All Right, I'm gonna allow you to get back on your soapbox here as we start to wrap up. If you were advocating for some sort of change in be to be marketing more as a whole, let's let's keep it within content, because that's that's the the waters that we swim in. But, like, what do you think is some of those major shifts that you hope happen over the next year to two years? I think I mean, and not just because we just talked about it, but it's it's like fostering creators in your company, because there's so much benefit to having that. And here's what's here's this funny example. I was talking to somebody. She's leading content this at this company, I won't say who, and they're essentially like they have a bunch of consultants right, like what they do is like services and consultants, and so they're supposed to be the experts in this space, this niche that they have. Their the experts, but their CEO doesn't want any of them building a personal brand and being known as experts. Wow, why? Because he's afraid that people will they'll become an expert and then they'll leave or they'll get, you know, they'll get recruited. And so I'm like, wow, what a what a kind of an old mindset, not an old per scarcity mindset. Yeah, here's mindset, and an older, like archaic mind says better. What I should use of like the other way to view it is, what if everyone was known as an expert? What do you think? What happened? Clients and other experts would flock to you because they want to be on that team. HMM. And so that's the way I view it, for kind of like where you called a personal brand, digital brand, whatever, like enable and equip and empower people to be creators. Because, you know, if you're a podcast company, right, or content agency, and Ben he's like known as the podcast guy and like wow, you got to go to learn from Benji customers and other great talent will want to work with Benjie and with that company, and so that's what I think it's like. It's so obvious. And then the other part two is those creators will if you, if you invest in those creators, they will reciprocate by sharing. You know, they'll be proud to work at that company. And that's where you get more marketing amplification, which is like, you know, for example, with going we're throwing a virtual conference right now. There's over threezero people registered and about a thousand, I think of, come from gongsters, sharing on Linkedin and inviting people. Thousand People. That's more than what most be to be companies under a thousand employees can get at an event, right, and that's just from this process we're talking about. So the reason I'm really passionate about it is because it's one of those few mutually beneficial things you can do. or it's not just all about the company, it's not just all about the individual. It's truly symbiotic and both can really benefit from it. Yep, it touches on so many of like the things we're seeing change all at once. But again, going back to most of what we've ended up talking about today, that personality of your people. Like you, you hired them because they're also a good fit in your culture and your team. So if they're sharing what they're passionate about, if you've equipped them in the right way, like it does nothing except brand amplification. It's marketing that's baked in and it's good for them personally. So it's like it is a win win. But you have to flip the mindset. It's hard for me to even go to that archaic mindset because of just like have the privilege of like joining in the sphere that I'm in and just like have living in this ecosystem. But you hear about it and you're kind of like, man MIS I'm glad I'm over here. Yeah, I'm going on where I'm at...

...and I'm glad be to be is moving in that way, taking some lessons, whether it's from B Toc or other spaces, but it's fun to be on those, those front lines and inviting more be to be companies to this way. So, Devin, thanks, man for jumping on here. I know you're working on a lot of stuff. Tell us a little bit of maybe what you're up to where people can connect. Clearly, linkedin and email is what Devin has already said are the places. But tell us a bit of what you're doing. Yeah, of course. If you want to see some of the stuff we're talking about, for Gong, you know, go over to you and go go to gon dot Ao check out the resource Shub if you want to look at some of the content. Or, you know, you can subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Linkedin. For me personally, also follow me on Linkedin if you like anything I said or if you don't like what I said, you want to argue with me on Linkedin, feel free. I don't respond to too many negative comments, but you're welcome. But not I also have a newsletter, the content strategy reader, where every week I go deep on one topic for content strategy in creation. So it's completely free. Takes less than five minutes to read. So you can check that out at the reader dot Com rbed. And then I also have a personal branding course for Linkedin for folks that are interested. So partnered with the folks over at JB sales or John Barrow sales put a course together. It's about an hour long to see how to create high quality content, build a personal brand with credibility on Linkedin. So if any that stuff sounds interesting, go check it out. For sure. Yeah, we want to invite our listeners to go do that, connect with Devin and and thanks so much for for spending some time with us today. Man here on BB growth. Of course, I really did enjoy Benjie, and you've got a skill for this thing. Keep this in the edit. Don't cut this out, Benjie, you're really good at what you do. I appreciate you. Thank you. I appreciate that. For our listeners, if you're checking this out because you saw Devan's name on the show, or maybe you're just interested in content strategy and this one stuck out to you but you haven't yet followed the podcast, do that on whatever podcast player you're listening to it on. We'd love to stay connected and have you never miss an episode and definitely find me over on Linkedin as well. I'd love to chat with you about marketing, business life. I'm active over there as well. Just Search Benjie Bock. Thanks for listening. Everybody. Will be back real soon with another episode. We're always excited to have conversations with leaders on the front lines of marketing. If there's a marketing director or a chief marketing officer that you think we need to have on the show, reach out. Email me, Benjie dot block, at Sweet Fish Mediacom. I look forward to hearing from you.

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