Welcome to the latest episode of “3-Minute Marketing”, the show where we ask the greatest marketers of our time to reach into their treasure chests and reveal their best marketing gold.
Today, I’m thrilled and honored to be speaking with legendary growth marketing genius Udi Ledergor, CMO at Gong. For those that don’t know yet, Udi is the marketing mastermind that helped Gong become the de facto leader in the revenue intelligence category and grow to a $1B+ valuation.
My question for Udi is, “What are your top 5 secrets for marketing success?”
- Secret #1: Strategy before tactics. Ignore the “shiny objects”
- Secret #2: Don’t produce anything you wouldn’t want to consume.
- Secret #3: Start outbound on day 1.
- Secret #4: Never compromise on the people you hire.
- Secret #5: Don’t obsess about measurement. Instead, do what feels right for the brand.
- Bonus Tip #1: Learn how your CRO “takes their coffee.”
- Bonus Tip #2: Use a conversation intelligence tool to get insight from your sales team, customers & competitors.
- Bonus Tip #3: To build your strategy, first define your goals. Then reverse engineer your success.
- Bonus Tip #4: Humanize your marketing to connect with your customers.
- Bonus Tip #5: Set aside 10-20% of your budget to place “bets” on intuitive plays that are harder to measure.
– [Chris] Hey, welcome back, everybody to another episode of Three Minute Marketing, the world’s shortest and highest value per minute marketing podcast. We love to interview growth, marketing leaders and unicorns. We love cross-channel, cross-disciplinary, just kind of growth-minded individuals. So I’m super excited today to have Udi Ledergor on the show today. Udi is a very, very impressive individual. I’ll let you say a couple of things about yourself, but currently he’s heading up marketing at Gong, which is a very hot brand, very sexy brand. I know you guys are in the billions in terms of valuation at this point, and you’ve been there since very early on. So I have so much to talk to you about. It’s unfortunate that this is Three Minute Marketing, but welcome to the show, Udi.
– [Udi] Hey, thanks for having me. Super excited to be here. Yes, I’ve been with Gong for, coming up to five years now. Gong is the fifth company where I was the first marketer and built in marketing team. And this one is definitely the greatest, and growing the company to new heights. So super, super excited to see where we go next.
– [Chris] A hundred percent. So you are so knowledgeable on a variety of topics, I wanted to give you something a little open-ended, so that you could talk about whatever it is that you think is relevant. But my question for you today, is what are your top three or your top five secrets for marketing success?
– [Udi] All right, let’s get going. Top five secrets for marketing success. Number one is strategy before tactics. On the day that you get your email as the new head of marketing, you will start getting emails from every agency, tech vendor and partner who wants to work with you. Ignore them all, figure out your strategy before you send out your first email or do your first social posts, because the easiest thing to do in marketing is get busy with activities and campaigns. And they’re usually going to be a huge waste of your time and money, unless you have a clear strategy behind them. So strategy before tactics, that’s number one. Number two, don’t produce anything that you wouldn’t want to consume. If you were to receive this email, if you were to show up to this webinar, would you leave a raving fan? If not, mix it and start over, create something that you would be excited to consume. Just like the Netflix series that you’re binging on, that’s the level of excitement you want to create. Number three, don’t wait for inbound to come in. You need to start outbound on your first day on the job. Hire that SDR, give them a script, sit over their shoulder, or install something on Gong to listen to their calls, and start outbound. That’s the only way you’re going to make it to your next round without running out of money first. Inbound, you should start building, but don’t expect it to bring in fruits before, I don’t know, 12 months or 18 months. Number four, never on the people you hire. Never compromise on the people you hire. Every person you add can either give you 10x more value or suck up 10x of your energy. Never compromise on the people you hire. And last and not least, number five, don’t obsess about measurement. Do what seems right for the brand. Even if you’ve got a great gut feeling, go for it. If it works, you will know, even if it doesn’t show up on the dashboard.
– [Chris] Love that. Well, that was very good and very succinct, resonates heavily. So I particularly loved the content piece. Your first piece was kind of like about noise. I am interested ’cause I’ve heard other executives talk about focus. You know, how do you evaluate different ideas, different options. There’s so many of them. How do you separate the signal from the noise and determine what to do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?
– [Udi] Well, you need a clear objective of, “What am I trying to achieve this quarter?” I have four very specific goals for this quarter, and almost every single thing I do ties up into one of those four goals. If I see something in my inbox or someone shoots me an idea… I mean, just today, I had to reject someone on LinkedIn who had an amazing idea that I told him I would love to do that, it’s just not in the four goals for me this year. Let’s talk next to year. It might be the right time. So once you have those priorities, keep them in front of you. It gives you the focus that you need.
– [Chris] 100%, and it’s interesting, oh, well, we’re out of time now, but, hey, let’s end right here. We can continue. So if you’re listening to this right now and you want to hear the rest of Udi’s and I’s conversation, you’ll find a link somewhere within the show notes for more. UDI, where can folks learn more about you or Gong?
– [Udi] Go Gong, you would find it Gong.io. That’s the best place to go. Subscribe to our blog, even if you’re not ready to buy revenue intelligence yet. You don’t want to miss Devin Reed and the content team’s blog. We come out every week with amazing content that really helps salespeople and sales leaders everywhere. The best place to follow me and connect with me as on LinkedIn. So there’s only one Udi Ledergor. So I should be pretty easy to find, and I don’t post every day, but hopefully when I do post, it’s helpful.
– [Chris] Perfect. Yes. And I can attest to that. Gong is an awesome product, kind of a category creator in my view, and you very much practice what you preach in terms of only content that you would want to consume yourself, even the free content is next level. So thank you very much, Udi, and stay on the line.
– [Udi] My pleasure.
– [Chris] All right, we’ll see you. Gong strikes me as an organization that is particularly close knit when it comes to the sales and the marketing orgs respectively.
– [Udi] Absolutely, I’ve mentioned that I’ve headed marketing for five companies, and none of them were sales and marketing as closely knit as we are here at Gong. And it’s a big, big part of our secret. I’ve written about it, and I’ve presented extensively about it. If you’re a marketer somewhere out there that is not closely connected with your CRO, or as I like to say, if you don’t know how they take their coffee, you’re doing it wrong. And my advice would be, number one, try and create that relationship, that you know how they take their coffee, and wham, and be there at least once a week when they take their coffee, to work together on challenges and needs and what’s working, what’s not working. If you cannot create that relationship, if your sales leader is not open to that relationship, you should move on and go somewhere else. Because I don’t know of a way to be a successful marketer at a B2B company when you’re not like the two-headed machine that is sales and marketing.
– [Chris] So how does that look? How does that play out in real life?
– [Udi] In real life, it looks like this. My team is deeply embedded within the sales organization. When I say deeply embedded, while we were still at the office, my head of demand gen used to sit more often within the SDR open space than he did within the marketing team. I used to go find him there if I needed something from him. Today, my marketing team members are in all of the sales Slack channels, all of the internal channels. My ABM manager’s in the upmarket sales channel, the other marketers are in the internal sales Slack channels, where people ask questions that we can jump and help them with, right? Just today, someone was asking about some esoteric competitor that we hardly heard about. So my competitive intelligence product marketer jumps in with an answer, because he’s there, we are present. We solve their problems, so they come to us for more of that. And we know exactly what they’re dealing with right now, so we can stay ahead of the curve and solve that for them. If you’re not there, if you build on what your sales team is struggling with this week, you can’t be there to help, they won’t rely on you to help them in the future, and that’s how you start drifting apart. And from there, it’s really, really hard to repair.
– [Chris] How does the marketing org use Gong, the product, ’cause I know it it’ll tell you a lot of interesting things, like this is the most important objective, or like the top performers focus on this topic more so than others. Are your marketers in there using Gong?
– [Udi] Of course, we could talk about this a lot, but one of the reasons we love working for Gong is that we get to use our own tools, so we drink our own champagne, as we like to say. And one of the many ways we use Gong is, A, to see how our own marketing materials and messaging and pricing are landing, how are the sales team delivering them, who is delivering them, ’cause it’s not going to be equal across the board. So we can tap on the shoulder, folks that we see are struggling with delivering the latest messaging and decks. If someone’s using an old version, is it because they missed the training? Is it because they didn’t like what they saw? So that’s one thing we do. And the other thing is we listen to the voice of the customer. So we hear how customers are responding to our messaging. What aha moments are they having. When they go like, “Whoa, dude, that’s sick,” we know, okay, we’ve nailed something. Let’s this replicate this. And we have those sound snippets. Sometimes with customer’s consent, we even publish them. And it’s really cool to listen to. So you can really get those aha moments in a very unfiltered way. Other things that we hear about are which competitors are coming up, what are we getting compared to? What is happening in the market? Last year when COVID hit, we heard from a lot of customers their sales team were having to go through their buyer’s CFO to get approvals for deals that were way below the threshold that they previously had to. So we quickly created content for our customers, how to get through the CFO, and created a template for that. That became our number two or three most downloaded piece of content within a few weeks of launching. Because we had ears in the market, we heard what the market was struggling with, we could put out content to address that immediately. And I honestly don’t know how other teams do it these days.
– [Chris] Yeah, so we talk here internally a lot about strategy, and we oftentimes almost joke, because the word strategy is so broad. It means a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s difficult to define or pin down. Your number one thing was, “Hey, figure out the strategy.” Like what in your mind are the essential, the core elements of strategy. Like if you have a blank page with 10 slots where you need to fill the strategy, and what are those slots?
– [Udi] We’re talking about marketing strategy, right?
– [Chris] Marketing strategy, yeah.
– [Udi] So we start with the end goal, what does success look like? Okay, depending on the time span of your strategy, hopefully it’s a long-term thing, so maybe short-term strategy would be for one year, or longer term for three to five years. What does success look like? Just imagine, like, what is the next Wall Street Journal headline mentioning your company? What are they talking about? About a certain success in the market, about certain revenue, about an acquisition, about an IPO, what do you want to be known for? Start from that and then work back, okay, where am I right now? What do I need to do to get to get there? And you re-engineer that saying, okay, let’s say I want to be… I remember one of the first strategy meetings we have, I think five years ago, was, within a year, we want to have double the social media mentions of all of our competitors combined. In other words, if you take 100% of the social media mentions of what we then called conversation intelligence, we want two out of three of those to be about Gong. That seems like a really tall order, but we said, okay, that’s what success looks like, so we know that we’re dominating the market. And so what do we have to do in order to do that? And we build a whole content marketing strategy out of that. Then we set out measurement tools to measure what our competitors were doing, both on their company profiles, and then on their executive profiles. And once a month, we have people tally up all those numbers and we measure that. And within a few months, we clearly saw that we were dominating not just 67% of the social media mentions in our field, but more like 85% or 80% in some months of all the social media of conversation intelligence. So that’s what it looks like when you understand what the goal is, how are we going to reach it? How are we going to measure it? And you can do that for any big audacious business goals, as long as you know where you want to see yourself at any given point in time in the future.
– [Chris] Yeah, so what do you figure is Gong’s biggest secret, without giving too much away to any competitor, but like your five tips were like really good, but like a lot of people talk about strategy, first tactics, a lot of people talk about good content. I did really enjoy the outbound piece, but what’s really the secret sauce behind Gong’s marketing-driven growth?
– [Udi] I’d say the two things, one of them I cannot take credit for, the other I’ll take some. The first one is we started marketing, when my CEO called me, we had 12 beta customers, and they already saw amazing product market fit. It’s way easier to build an award-winning marketing strategy and team around a product that has amazing product market fit. It’s really, really hard, to the point of impossible to do that if your customers don’t really use the product or use it, but don’t like it.
– [Chris] Yeah.
– [Udi] So that is something, and that’s a career tip maybe for marketers. Look for that product market fit if you’re joining a company that already has a product, because you won’t be able to fix that, you won’t be able to fix that. And even if you’re the most brilliant marketer in the world that can do the most creative things in marketing and measure them obsessively, it won’t matter if customers hate your product and are turning left and right. And we can all think of companies where we know that happens. So one is at the company level, it’s not even a marketing thing, we have lots of raving fans of our customers. In other words, product market fit. That makes everything infinitely easier for marketing, for sales, for CS, for finance. I mean, just name it, it’s easier once you have that great product market fit. The other thing that we chose to do really, really early, that I think a lot of companies get wrong, is we decide that our marketing is going to be completely human. I know in the last couple of years, more and more companies are talking about it, and some are even implementing it, but it was pretty novel five years ago when we started doing this. You could count on one hand the number of B2B companies that were doing marketing that reads like a human being, because most companies want to be the number one authority and have all the respect and trust of everyone in their field, but they confuse that with being stuffy and boring. I’m not going to name any brands, because I don’t want to get into trouble with anyone, but think of brands that you know that you do recognize as being authoritative, but there’s nothing cool about them. You wouldn’t invite them to your next dinner party.
– [Chris] Like IBM.
– [Udi] Because they’re stuffy… And you said it, I’m not going to mention any brand names, but we all know these stuffy brands that are authoritative, but really, really boring as hell. So we decided to create this seemingly impossible thing of being recognized as the number one authority in our fields, but being the friendly guy or gal that you want to have drinks with at your next party. And that I think is what we’ve created, and everything we do, the experience we create in our events, the tone of voice and the imagery that we use on our website and our social media and in our content and in our webinars, it all derives from there. How can we be this friendly person that you come to for help and be approachable and be fun. I mean, go to our website and talk to the Bruno bot, that’s the bulldog chat. He’s scheduling hundreds of meetings a month at the leading revenue intelligence platform, right? So we’ve proven that it’s possible to be the number one authority in your field without being boring. I think that is the one thing that my team and I can take credit for, beyond the product market fit which I mentioned.
– [Chris] That’s brilliant. And my rule number one in marketing is probably anything but boring. It’s like the last thing you want to be as boring. And I think you guys are playful, even down to the name, Gong, I was just like, bong, on the sales floor, just like it was ringing.
– [Udi] There you go.
– [Chris] I absolutely love that, man. I like a lot about what you’re saying. Talk to me about the last thing on measurement. So I’m curious about what your measurement, your kind of dashboard looks like, but more so, how do you… I kind of think of it almost as similar to the difference between brand and performance. Like a lot of larger organizations, they’ll have a brand and comms team, and then they’ll have the performance marketers. I don’t think that’s the case in your guys’ world, but how do you think of the difference between brand and performance, measurable versus non-measurable, and what is your measurement system look like?
– [Udi] Yeah, so I mentioned this in my top five things. I don’t obsess about measurement. And I don’t measure your marketing, right? You won’t have a seat for long in the management room or for five minutes in the boardroom if you can’t show up with some meaningful dashboards and metrics showing how you’re contributing to business, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is… A few months ago, I had an idea of let’s do a Super Bowl commercial, and very few B2B companies have ever in the history of Super Bowl done Super Bowl commercials, but knowing my brand and my audience, I thought it would be perfect for our brand. And I thought that at the very least with the long-term impact of this, it would be impossible to measure. And at best we’ve got some short term impact that we’d see by leading indicators like website traffic, website conversion, and maybe even some opportunities created. But I wasn’t setting any high expectations for that. And I got my CEO excited, and then I got the CFO’s approval, and we even checked with a few board members, and they said, “You know, normally we would’ve said no to other companies, but at Gong we know Udi sort of knows how to do these things creatively. We trust you to do this. And I’ve got those emails from the board member. So my CEO forwards them to me with a headline that says, “Basically your neck is on the line. Good luck.” And then I went and did a Super Bowl commercial, and it felt right, because I was getting texts and messages on Superbowl Sunday from AEs saying that they’ve gotten hundreds of messages from their prospects that day. Think about it, an AE getting hundreds of messages from the prospects. “I just saw on the Super Bowl. Oh my God, that’s amazing. That’s so exciting. I want to move forward.” We had interviews with candidates that week, that wrote in an email, “The reason why I took the recruiters call is because I saw your Super Bowl commercial on Sunday.” So we’re getting all this anecdotal ROI, but, wait, I saved the best for last. At the end of the week, it turns out we broke all of our records for new business opportunities created in a single week at Gong. So we had the best week ever for new business opportunities. So even the grumpy CFO got the short term ROI that we were looking for. Tim, we love you. You’re not really grumpy, but it makes a better story. So my point is I was very comfortable charging forward with this knowing that I would likely not be able to measure a lot of the impact. I got fortunate and lucky that a lot of the impact was measurable at the end of the day. But I keep doing these things. We’ve since sponsored a bunch of other TV programs, some of them probably were complete flop. Others probably will have a longterm impact that we can’t yet measure. And I’ve done out-of-home for the same reasons. And I’m experimenting with radio and podcasts and a bunch of other things that are really hard to measure. But if you have a strong gut feeling that this could work for your brand, you should have a reserve part of your budget, 10%, 15%, maybe 20% of your budget to do these things with. And they usually pay off.
– [Chris] I love that. I love that sentiment. And in a world of data, data, data, measure everything, test everything, I just love the message of use your intuition, go with your gut sometimes.
– [Udi] Absolutely.
– [Chris] I love that.
– [Udi] Hey man, I want to be sensitive to your time. I know time is up, but I really enjoyed it. Will you come back sometime?
– [Chris] Of course, thanks for having me, and let’s stay in touch.