10 Things That Made Me A Better Marketer

On this episode of the Marketing Swipe File, DG is sharing the 10 things that have helped make him a better marketer (inspired by this post on LinkedIn). And he’s not talking about a better leader or hiring manager. An actual marketer. Want a sneak peek? Dave talks copywriting, the six principles of influence, empathy, learning to sell and how to be real (hint: use audio and video).

The other 5? You’ll have tune in to the full episode to catch the rest.

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Full Transcript

Dave Gerhardt: Hey everybody, it’s DG and on this episode of the Swipe File, I’m going to share with you the ten things, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, the ten things that have helped make me a better marketer.

Alright, so a little while ago I wrote this post on LinkedIn and I was just kind of like reflecting, I’ve been trying to, as I’m growing, I’ve been trying to reflect a little bit more because I think my personality is just go, go, go, go, go, go, ah, and it’s crazy, and so I’ve been trying to like be a little bit more, what’s the word, introspective, don’t correct me on my grammar. If you know anything about me, grammar is not my thing. I make it up as I go.

But I’ve been trying to reflect a little bit more and I was thinking about, what are the things that have had the biggest impact on my career and have made me a better marketer? Now this is not, I’m not talking about as a leader or hiring, or any of that stuff, I’m talking about an actual marketer. Like an actual, I’m touching things, I’m writing, I’m moving stuff around, so I wanted to do a podcast episode on that. I’m going to break down all ten for you right now, okay? Because LinkedIn, the limit is, I wrote this on LinkedIn and it was crazy. This post has, I’m looking at it right now, this post as 809 likes, 86 comments, and it’s been viewed 58,728 times. So if I could get like a tenth of those people to come and listen to this episode, it would be amazing. So I want to break down, I want to just add more value than that post and I want to A. Share all ten with you, but then go a little bit deeper on every one.

Okay, so number one is copywriting. Copywriting is hands down I think the most important skill in marketing today. It’s probably always been the most important skill in marketing, but it’s the one thing that we have kind of lost, because marketing is all about technology and tools and tunnels and spreadsheets and all that stuff which is great, but through that, we’ve really lost the art of copywriting and me, I used to like forget this too, and I never thought it was important. The reason why is because I thought that oh, I can write, like I’ve always been able to write, I’ve always been able to write good emails, papers, whatever. Although in high school I did that trick where like if the teacher said, “We need a three page, double space paper,” I would do like five spaces so like, ’cause they never really measured it, so I’d do five spaces and then really quick I could get to two, three pages.

Anyway, copywriting, I used to just throw it away because I used to think oh that’s just words, right? Now that I’ve realized, like words are everything, so it’s not just words. Words impact everything. You could have the best offer for an ad in the world, but if the copy on that ad is not good, no one’s going to see it and click on it. You could write the best blog post of your life, but if you can’t write a good headline for that, nobody is actually going to see it and look at it because there’s so much noise out there. So, number one thing is like copywriting, this is a skill that I am still working on today. I actually, this is where I spend most of my time at Drift. I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this part publicly but like most of the actual marketing doing that I’m doing today, is actually writing copy for our website, for emails, for landing pages, for everything, so copywriting.

Number two is learn the six principles of influence. This is, we could probably be like [swoosh, swoosh], one of the greatest books about marketing all time which is a book called Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini, he’s a social psychologist and it’s unbelievable how many marketers I meet and talk to that have not read this book. Every year I do a guest lecture at Harvard Business School and one of the first questions I ask people in that conversation is how many of you have read the book Influence by Robert Cialdini? We’re in the best business school in the world, Stanford people might disagree, MIT whatever, I didn’t go to business school, Harvard’s pretty good. Okay, nobody raises their hand. Maybe one person has raised their hand and read that book. This book can be a competitive advantage for you if you pick it up and read it. So Cialdini has six principles. I’m not going to go through all of them right here, but those are basically six principles that guide how humans, people like you and me, how we act and how we think.

Things like the importance of social proof. Social proof in your marketing. Social proof meaning who like me is also doing this thing? Or reciprocity, the act of reciprocity, people are more likely to give something if they get something first, even if they didn’t want that. So it’s the reason why people on the streets or in the mall are trying to give you a free sample, because they think that if they give you a free sample, you will then come in to your store.

So there’s all these elements that make people make decisions and act that you can use to help guide your marketing. In this post I said no one has had a bigger impact on my marketing than Cialdini. I really believe that, because that helped me really put social psychology first as opposed to all the tools and technology that come in marketing.

Number three is empathy. So empathy I think is the most underrated skill in marketing today. The reason why is because like I think about, the number one thing I think about, I actually don’t, don’t take this advice the wrong way, but I actually never think about our customers when I’m writing something. I think about me first. Selfishly, I think about myself and I think about, I’m a marketer who’s doing marketing to marketers. Would I go to this webinar? Would I like take an hour out of my day and go to this webinar? Hell no, okay, well that I’m not going to do that webinar, or I’m going to come up with a different hook and title for it. Would I actually listen to this podcast? Would I get value out of it? If no, then like don’t do it or make it in a way that you can. So I think a lot of times as marketers, we forgot like what stuff actually motivates and influences us, and we just kind of like come to work, or like I got to make a blog post, I got to do a webinar, how often do you actually think would I actually spend my time doing this. So I always ask myself, would I even respond to this email if somebody was trying to sell me? I try to use that to guide everything that I do in marketing.

Number four is sales. I think this is the one thing that marketers talk about all the time. Every marketer talks about, you got to have a great relationship with sales and marketing is about driving revenue, blah, blah, blah, blah. But how many marketers out there have actually sold? I’m talking about get on the phone and actually try to help take someone’s money. It’s freaking hard, but not only is it hard but there is no better way to learn if your pitch actually works or not.

So, one thing that I try to do regularly is actually get on sales calls with our sales team, not just to be a listener, but to actually participate and actually have to try to sell and close and make an ask, because it’s one thing, I think so many marketers do this. We got to go create sales collateral, whatever that means. So I make a PDF, or I make a deck, and then I kick it over to the sales team. I’m like, “Here, you asked for a messaging to verse our competitors, here it is,” but that doesn’t actually help, you don’t even know if that actually works. So the only way to ultimately test that messaging, is to get on call and actually help sell. So the thing that I said in my post is want to see if your pitch works? Try it for real. Try actually using it versus just kicking it of the wall to sales as a PDF.

Number five is being real. This is why we do so much with audio and video and real faces through out marketing at Drift, because like everybody in life, nobody in the world wants to be marketed to. Even if you’re saying yes, I don’t believe it. So we all kind of have this don’t B.S. me filter that goes up, or don’t market to me. The easiest way to get around that filter, or get through that filter is to be real and to be authentic and to be human. We’re all people. So if I can show you my face and let you know that I sometimes stutter and I sometimes pick my nose on videos and I’m a real person just like you, that’s the ultimate way to disarm somebody that you’re trying to sell something to. So always try to be real. So I really don’t care if I’m making a video and I screw up. Or I write something and I make a typo. It doesn’t mean that I do it on purpose and I’m sloppy, but I care more about letting you know that I’m a real person who’s doing marketing than try to be like this perfect brand to the world.

Number six is consistency. Consistency is the one lesson that I keep learning every time. I’ve actually learned it with this podcast in the past. So last summer I started this podcast, the Swipe File. We didn’t call in the Swipe File yet, we just called it the Marketing Podcast. I did it for a couple of episodes and the response was good but then I stopped doing it. Then it died. I’ve done this with so many channels. With video, with audio, with blogging. Everybody wants to find this magic bullet. The reason I quit was because I did five episodes and it didn’t really like blow up, but go back and look at any great thing. It always starts with consistency. If you want to build an audience, if you want to start a podcast, if you want to start a YouTube channel, if you want to start an Instagram account, you have to be consistent.

Consistency is the only hack that I found for building an audience. So you have to commit to creating regularly and stick with it. This might take months and sometimes it even takes years. One of my favorite people is a guy names Casey Neistat who’s a YouTube sensation, makes videos, he’s amazing. He made videos on YouTube forever before he really blew up, so consistency is key. You have to be in it for the long game, but also know that they payback is always worth it. Now that we have this thing and it’s real and it exists, the payback is amazing because you’ve invested. You’ve made this thing. It didn’t really cost you any money other than your time. You’re not spending on ads to do it, so consistency is one of the top things you can do to actually build an audience.

Number seven is speed. Speed is so important. I was lucky enough to meet the CMO of Facebook last year. He now left and did a bunch of other things, but in that interview, in that meeting, we asked him, we said “What are the traits of the best marketers?” He had this one line that has stuck with me since then. He said, “The best marketers in the world are able to learn faster than the competition.” That line is so good because think about it, if I can learn faster as a marketer than what my competitors are doing, then I can get to ideas faster. Oh events don’t work for us, okay great, let’s kill events and go try this thing. Speed is like one of the only secrets in marketing. Also, the creative process, like so much of marketing is creativity today. The creative process like takes a hundred bad ideas to get to that one good one. You don’t just roll out of bed and have the money, idea, and have that perfect idea. You have to create. You need reps and sets as we talk about a lot in our podcast Seeking Wisdom. You have to be able to create a lot.

So if I think about, I’ve written a hundred blog posts and maybe only two of them are very good. That’s what it takes. You have to get the bad ideas out of your system, you have to almost like expel them from your body. So write a hundred bad headlines to get that one good one. That’s why speed is so important. The faster you move, the faster you can learn.

Number eight is creating demand. I did a podcast episode on this earlier, but this whole concept of if you build it, they will come, is terrible advice. The whole concept of if we just build a product that people love, it’s going to grow, is terrible advice. The way that I try to do things is get people to come and then you can build it, because if you do it that way then you’ve basically already kind of fool proofed your marketing strategy. You already have an audience of people to actually go out and marketing to. So I’m always thinking about how can we create demand for something before it even exists.

Can I show you a T-shirt design that we haven’t even made yet, but can I share that out and say, “Would you want this T-shirt,” and get 50 people to comment on it. Then I’m going to be like, oh, let’s go actually spend the money and go make that T-shirt. So always think about creating demand versus just kind of waiting to harvest demand. I think the best marketers today can actually go out and create something from nothing. So that’s why creating demand is important.

Number nine is read everything that you can about marketing. I hated reading, I never really enjoyed reading books in school, so I didn’t do it, but then I really found out that I love marketing and marketing is what I’m good at. So I started to just soak up a ton of marketing books. Now I probably read two, three, four, five marketing books a month. No, you freaks, I don’t finish all of them, I can’t, but I kind of pick through them and pick out one or two lessons from each book. That’s just been able to compound over time. What it’s given me is this idea muscle. I feel like I can come up with a million ideas. That’s because I just kind of stuffed my head with all these marketing ideas that, you need an idea for an event? I got one. You need an idea for a podcast? I got one. You need an idea for a video? I got one.

That’s not because I have some secret or I’m like, I have some crazy memory or inspiration, but it’s because you soak in all this knowledge about marketing and then you can tap into it and you don’t even know that you’re tapping into it. So I think this is true for any topic. This is not groundbreaking, but if you wanted to go be a great golfer, you could go study everything you can about golf and you’re just kind of soak that all in. The same is true in marketing, but I don’t think enough people earlier in their career in marketing are spending enough time understanding what has worked in the past. It’s one of the reasons why one of our core values for marketers at Drift is this idea of innovate don’t invent. Go find things that have already worked for other people and other companies and then see how we can innovate on top of them versus creating something from scratch, just for us here at Drift.

Then ten. You have to realize that perfect is the enemy of good. A lot of times in marketing, good enough is usually good enough. At some point, you have to pick one and go. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been in between like five different names for something, five different dates for something, five different headlines for something. Ultimately, you just have to pick one and commit and go. For example, I used on this LinkedIn post. The limit on LinkedIn was 1300 characters, so I basically had to end this post right there. Ultimately, I really believe that sometimes there’s ten different ways to get to a solution. One of the things that paralyzes marketers is this idea that this has to be perfect. I think there’s probably, we’re making a video out of this podcast right now. I think there’s probably 20 different ways we could cut this video. Ultimately though, we can’t spend forever on it. So we can just pick one or two, feel good about it, and go. Pick one, commit, and realize that perfect is the enemy of good.

So, man I’m out of breath and I’m sweating now, but that was great. Those are ten of the things that have helped me grow my career fast in marketing. I hope it’s helpful. Look, there’s ten of them. If I got to pick, let’s pick three. Okay, if I got to pick three of them, I would focus on copywriting, understanding the six principles of influence from Robert Cialdini, and just being consistent across any channel. Consistently create, consistently publish, and I’m out of here.

Hey, thanks for listening to another episode of the Swipe File. I’m having a lot of fun doing this podcast and so because it’s fun for me, I hope it’s fun for you. It would mean the world if you could leave a review. Reviews really help and so go leave a review. Go to Apple Podcast, leave a review, let me know what you like about the show, didn’t like, want to hear more of. Also, if you’re not already subscribed, make sure you go subscribe on Apple Podcast, Spotify, the show is everywhere that you get your podcasts, probably where you’re listening right now. But, if you want more content like this, if you want to go a layer deeper, join me on Drift Insider, it’s drift.com/insider. We’re teaching courses, we’re sharing videos, and we have exclusive content for people just like you in marketing that we do not share publicly. So go and check it out, drift.com/insider.