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Chris Walker Rants On Dark Social, Creating Demand & Company Building

Contents

In this episode of Confessions Of A B2B Marketer, I'm joined by the one and only, B2B demand gen master Chris Walker of Refine Labs.


Chris rants on, dark social = word of mouth, automated > self-reported attribution, lead gen is dead (long live demand gen), podcasts don’t work for b2b, demand creation > demand capture, CEOs don't need to create content, culture is optional and that all businesses need to raise money.
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Episode transcript

I'm not saying that SEO doesn't work. I'm not saying that SEO's dead. I'm illuminating two people. There is a massive human behavior shift that's been happening. I've watched it happen since 2015. It continues to accelerate and the people that are still doing SEO just basically show themselves that they are not following what customers are doing.

All right guys, we have a massive episode. It's Chris Walker, the Godfather of Demand. Jen joins this show. We cover a little bit about Refine Labs, how they're building the company, et cetera. But then also I share like a number of hot takes that I knew he was gonna rant on, such as lead gen is dead and such as the revenue process doesn't need r and d.

So it was a great interview. I hope you really enjoyed. We'll jump right into this now and the first voice you'll hear will be nine. All right, we're live. Chris, welcome to the show. Hey, Tom. Happy to be here. Let's do this. So I don't think we need to give the big intro. I think I've listened to about 150 of your episodes.

What I wanna do is for anybody that like isn't super clear about who you are, they should Chris walk on LinkedIn now or go to find revenue vitals in Apple Podcasts. Perfect. Skip right through there and get into the good stuff. You got it. So my first one is gonna be zero to roughly 20 million in revenue.

A hundred employees in roughly three. What do you think it is about you or the general environment that has enabled you guys to do this? So, I think there's a couple of things. The first thing is that I've noticed since 2016 that buyers are changing and B2B companies go to market strategies have not been.

So I started to see that happen. I started to be an employee in companies and watch customer acquisition costs going up, growth slowing down, outbound connect rates, outbound success rates going down, and no one at the company was like looking for a different solution to go to market. And then, so I went out and figured out a better way to do it, to figure out how to communicate these things to customers in advance using modern tools like social networks and other parts of the internet.

To be able to get people information to effectively run a new way to do sales, which is educating the customer independently for a long period of time, and then allowing them to opt in, whether demonstrating that they're in market through some level of assumed intent, or by declaring intent to buy from your company at your website.

And so that's one big component that like I saw this issue in the market. No one was effectively solving it. I understand why it was happening, and so I figured I'd go outta my own and try and help a lot of companies be more successful with what I know. Second thing is that when it comes to our own businesses go to market strategy, we do what we tell our customers to do.

And so leveraging dark social, being there where people are discovering, being present inside of communities, posting frequently on social media, having a clear point of view on the market. All the things that I tell people in my podcast every single week, people probably think I'm a broken record, but giving, doing all of these things has allowed our business to have tons of.

Customer acquisition add a fraction of the cost of what some venture funded companies are paying to acquire customers simply because it's a lot more effective. So I think there's a lot to it. Hiring talent, people, financing, there's a lot to it that of how we got there. But those are a couple of the key points when it comes to marketing and go to market.

Got it. So there's this shift in the market, and then at the same time, you had your own experience. Something between like five and a years, like as an employee and you would, and also doing entrepreneur stuff at the side. And so that shift happened at the time when you were like ready to take advantage.

Yeah. I like to think that everything sort of times up exactly how it's supposed to. And so I was basically from like 2013 to 2019 getting ready. Practicing starting my own companies working and understanding cash flow, understanding taxes, understanding how to do marketing and branding and sales. And then all of a sudden, like LinkedIn has a moment where you can really take advantage of it.

I recognize that and I really did take advantage of it. The market needed something new companies are so frustrated with the like busted agency model and getting their advice from analysts, firms and other things like that. So the market. And it was the right time for me. I was prepared as a professional and as an entrepreneur to be able to actually go out and do it.

So all those sort of things paired up well with me in 2019 and you don't get a lot of these chances, and I went for it. I'm really happy that I did. I got a bunch of super talented people that work here now. We're doing a lot of great things for companies and customers and really trying to move the market forward.

Sure. So one of the reasons we've had this, I guess, relatively cheap customer acquisition is because of you, like observing the change in the market and then having controversial different or uncommon takes. So I went to LinkedIn yesterday to run a few of these takes past the LinkedIn Demand Gen world.

So I've got a few, I wanna run past you and see if I can get your uh, hot takes on each of these. Okay. First, Is dark social is the same thing as word of mouth. So dark social is a collection of things that includes one component of word of mouth, but like you listening to 150 episodes of my podcast before interviewing me, I'm not sure that's word of mouth.

The people that are on LinkedIn live watching this, right? I don't think that that's necessarily word of mouth. The internet creates scale through content and democratized distribution that allows you to be able to distribute the information far more effectively for people. And when we look at dark social broadly, so just let's define it for everyone through the scale and maturity of the internet.

It's created tons of different word of mouth channels, content creation channels, and ways to share content that don't get tracked by attribution software and don't create intent data. And that last part is super, super important for B2B companies, and I put that in there very importantly when I defined it, because when you bucket all those things together, that's exactly how buyers are discovering today.

That's how they're researching, that's how they're validating decisions, that's how they're deciding what to prioritize and what not to. And so all the companies that aren't moving on this due to lack of attribution or just due to not being accepted and continue to wait and run their SEO programs and their gated content to email programs and their LinkedIn lead gen and other gated content syndication programs, you're literally just get like you're risking.

A competitor or a company that's gonna come and eat your lunch and be able to take that from you. I think companies, it's so weird. We always like glorify very innovative forward thinking companies, but then when we bring it back into our own business, we're so resistant of change. We're so resistant to innovation and doing new things or, and I just don't know why.

It's like that marketing is supposed to be, and I think revenue broadly is supposed to be a highly creative and innovative function. And what we've done with measurement and the constraints inside of B2B companies that basically, Put people into a box that you can only do certain things because that's the only thing the organization measures.

And so I'm looking forward to. As companies start to figure this out and the ones that have been able to figure it out, I watch them thriving on LinkedIn. I watch them being successful on a podcast. I watch their company growing, and so I'm happy for the people that take information. When you are making decisions in business, all you need is two things.

You need to figure out what is the right information. Then you actually need to make a proper decision using that information. And so you can decide for yourself, is it, am I not getting to where I wanna be? Cause I have the wrong information, or perhaps the information that I need is sitting right in front of me.

I just refuse to use it. And so those are my thoughts on dark social. Sure. If you wanna continue to say dark socials, just word of mouth and not think about the podcasts, the community, the Reddit searches, all the social networks. My TikTok posts from last weekend got 200,000 views. I don't think that's word of.

And so I just think people are really, uh, missing the boat by trying, by resisting this. So you are of course the CEO of Refined Labs. You mentioned the decisions and acting on information. The next hot take I wanna run past you is CEOs shouldn't be creating content. I believe that CEO should be creating content if it's part of your business's strategy and if your CEO is comfortable and wants to do it.

Doing something that you don't have passion for and you don't want to do, I think takes your energy away and then might take you away from the things that you like to do, which is like product development or leading the team or thinking about other things. So first you have to want to do it. It really has to be core to the.

Core to the strategy for us means that we're going out and educating an entirely new market on a new way to do things. We have our own glossary of terms. We have our own way of thinking about things. No one's gonna be searching for what we do straight away, so we have to actually go out and create it.

That's one part of it. That the way that we built the company was by bootstrapping. And so we didn't have venture funded money to go out and spend $200,000 a month in wasted in Google ads every month. So we had to be more efficient. And then when we get to this point now, and the business is relatively mature in an interesting phase, we pay back the cost to acquire a customer in 1.3 months.

Most software companies are at 24 18, 24, 36 months in terms of CAC payback. And because we had the patience and we built it the right way from the ground up, now we get to be able to take this all the way with us. And now that we are starting to install products into the company, we already have like a very strong proven go-to market motion with tons of attention, hundreds of thousands of people paying attention to all of our media properties.

And now we're gonna be able to install products that are built across the IP that my company. Has created over the past three years, so we know the market needs it. We're gonna bring these products in and we're gonna be able to effectively sell them at a much higher clip than an early stage SaaS company if it's, it's up to you.

You know what I mean? Like the options of what you can do as a ceo. There's a lot of different options. There's a lot of places where you can focus. I think a lot of progressive, innovative people that are by the mission CEOs, that are by the mission. You think about be off and Musk and other people like that, that are out there.

Driving the mission with the market. I think that if that's core to your business strategy, then you almost have to do that. But the people that want to do this don't have to be told by me to do it. They do it automatically because they feel it's intuitively right. They see other things that are happening that are being successful like myself or others, and they just go and do it.

So if you're like questioning whether this is worth your time as a CEO than probably not. Next up cold email, cold calling and lead gen is. I don't think that anything is dead. The question, is it worth, is the ROI worth that activity and the expenses that you put into those programs worth it? Or would those expenses and investments be better deployed elsewhere to drive a better roi?

And my position today is that the people that are in continue to invest in these things. I analyze enough companies, I see what the ROI is. They look at it as cost per lead, but then bubble it up and look at customer acquisition costs based on just the media spend that you do to acquire those leads based on all the marketing resources that are going into creating the content and doing all the lead gen, all the operational infrastructure that you need in order to support these types of programs.

All the sdr, head count, chasing all these people around, all the sales head count, that then has to do demos with people that don't buy as often. It just adds up and up and up. And the most clear part of it is it doesn't align with how buyers wanna buy. If you asked your customer whether they wanted to buy this flare or not, they would directly tell you no.

And they would tell you the alternative, which is what I'm trying to help people understand. And they would tell you the alternative, and then it's up to you whether you wanna do what your customer wants you to do. But I don't think that anything is quote unquote dead unless it's driving exactly zero roi.

But like if you're doing something and I watch the companies that run content syndication or other like did lead gen programs, it costs them 50, $60,000 in ad spend to get a $30,000 ACV customer. I just think is if companies actually looked at the data, Then I think, and you looked at it objectively, we serve this up to five or 10 companies a month, and they just see what's going on in their data and then they're like, wow, like this really doesn't make sense.

And they feel a lot more comfortable making changes, but it's just weird. Like B2B companies that run lead gen models have perfect attribution to those lead gen programs and then never actually scrutinize whether the programs are working or not. To me, it seems like such a massive part of the new way of BP marketing that you are, that you evangel.

It's defining the uncommon or controversial or new opinion that a company should have on the market that somehow relates to their product or service. First question is, would you agree? I think that people see my views as controversial because they're different, but like I don't view them purely as controversial.

I just think it's different than what the market has been trained to think over the past 10. Just like when moving from on premise to the cloud happened in Salesforce, it was different. People were thought it was controversial and to Benioff, it was a foregone conclusion. Everyone's gonna be doing.

That's exactly how I feel. It's a foregone. People see my views as controversial. Right now it's a foregone conclusion. Customers are moving this direction. Companies that don't follow them over time, we're gonna lose market share, are gonna get taken out by other companies and the companies that. The strongest direct relationship with customers with the best product are going to win.

So then if almost like the skill you need is to see the future. So if like a bt, like a marketer is listening, or you're working with a company, they don't really know what is gonna change in their market or what might happen in the future, how would you advise they would go about creating demand? So to me it's not really about being in the future.

It's about understanding what people are doing in the present and then being able to recognize the patterns and then be able to project out what that's gonna look like in the future. The problem with what's happening right today is that the people think that they need to be in the future, and they haven't even caught up to what's happening today.

They're actually operating in the past. If you analyze most b2b go to market strategies, They haven't fundamentally shifted since before 2016. It's all built, different tools, more technology, more head count, more specialization, but it's all about the same thing. Let's get some type of lead so that we can cold call them when they didn't ask for, to try and convince them to buy.

And by understanding what customers are actually, and then they market in these places that customers don't actually use or trust as much today. And so by being present in where, what are things happening today, then you can start to see the trajectory of where you're going. And then you can start to skate to where the puck is going.

But like the first step for every company is figure out how to operate today, right? Like today in the present day podcast. Social content on LinkedIn, TikTok, other ones like that, packaging up all of that content into like some level of event in a community. Amplifying content in your category message with paid targeted distribution on core social networks.

Having a, those are some things that are working right this second. I know that, I know they're working right this second, and most companies don't do those things cuz they're still in the past. So it's like, don't worry about getting to the future. Worry about catching up to. Next whole take influences when work for b2b.

I believe that the way that B2B companies measure the success of a program like this, I agree that it won't work. You have to define what works and what doesn't mean. Will it drive business results? Absolutely. Will companies know that it drives business results and be able to prove it in some little chart?

Definitely not in what they do today. And so it's up to a company if you're going to go and start New revenue program. Like a podcast, like influencer marketing, like marketing, doing a TikTok live every week, things like that. If you're gonna start new revenue programs and you're not going to scrutinize am like, do we have the right measurement infrastructure in place to effectively know whether these things are working or not?

And most companies that do the things that I listed just chalk it up and they're like, oh, it's a brand investment. We're not gonna be able to measure it. Let's look at clicks or branded search or other sur like less important surrogate measures. And you gotta be able. Decide, do I have the right measurement infrastructure?

And if not, I'm not going to start running these programs until I can effectively demonstrate that I have confidence they're driving impact. And so if a B2B company wanted to do influencer marketing, then they should install self-reported attribution. They should look at the responses they're getting right now.

They'll see, we got one yesterday, we get one almost every day. I got referred to your business by X, Y, and Z person. And then just watch. Watch for a week or two, who are the people out there that are referring us business? And then go and figure out how to accelerate those things. And that would be like the easiest way to get an in like quote unquote influencer marketing program going.

But put simply, B2B companies don't take any of the steps that I said. So any of the think that they want to do or can be innovative with, I think are going to lead to either not being able to be measured and then being scrutinized or killed, or the company just doesn't have enough confidence in them to keep doing them.

So it could work, but most companies, I don't think set it up to be successful people on the LinkedIn live, if you have a question dropping the comments, we'll get that into. Staying on influencers, I assume you probably do get some or have got some inbound previously from relationships with Dave Gehart, Gaetano, Dati, and one potentially from one hire that you've made, who I believe is absolutely hilarious.

Todd, he's in your marketing team. His videos are awesome. Thanks. So I assume that's all driving inbound. This leads slightly to onto a slight diversion, leadership and management. Obviously to go from zero to a hundred people in three years, you must have had to hire a lot of people and manage those and lead these people effectively.

Where would you say that you have like learnt those skills from? I don't think that you learn skills until you put yourself in a position to practice them when you don't actually know whether or not you could do it. How does an athlete know they can make the game winning shot with a hand in their face with one second left?

You'll never know until you take the shot. You know what I mean? So I think people wait so long to say, am I ready to do this? Versus saying, I have confidence I can go and figure these things out, even if I mess up or I slip up, or I am not, I can figure it out. And so I have that type of attitude. I've done a ton of things over the past three years that I've never had to do before that I wasn't sure if I was gonna be able to do that.

I struggled with making decisions. Those types of things happen when you're doing something new that's uncomfortable. And I just like, I look for those moments. I look for the places where you're on the edge of discomfort because it's where you're getting a lot of the growth. And so to bring it a little bit more like tactical on this one, I think that having like a core set of people around you, like I think the first 10 hires are super important because they basically then incubate the culture, right?

I start, it moves to a leadership team or my business partners. It moves to the core set of 10 people that we had at the company, and then it's able to spread from there, and then it spreads into who other, which other people are we hiring? What are the values of the company? If we have two people there, similar in skills, how are we gonna decide which person to hire?

How are we gonna decide how to promote people? These are all things that I didn't know how to do, but I've been able to surround myself with a strong leadership team, people that have way different skills and experiences than I do, so that I'm able to focus on the places where I can really have a big lever to drive the business for, and then other people can handle things that are outside of my core area of ex expertise.

Yep. Makes total. Moving. So you have shifted the focus of your share previously. Stay at demand gen, now revenue, vitals to a more holistic view of revenue. So I've got a hot take on this one. The revenue process doesn't need r and d. Love the take. So if you think about what companies do and how they structure and decide, how am I gonna run marketing programs, smart people look at it and say, I'm doing portfolio management.

I got some long term bets, I got some short term bets. Not every bet is gonna play. I know that there's certain things that need to start 12 months from now if we're gonna have them make the impact that we need in next year. When we launch our category and people are starting to plan and figure out what are the elements that I'm gonna put in place, people are already doing some level of revenue r and d subconsciously, because it makes total sense.

And they're just doing it without a structure, without a proper way to measure, without a proper way to track programs, without a proper way to understand exactly when programs move or how to categorize them. We've provided all that infrastructure of the stages and how they work. We provided all the infrastructure on how do you measure certain programs, how do you set your data up in a standardized way so that when you compare your data against someone else's, you can know that you're both comparing apples to apples.

Point blank, like there's nothing more that a revenue team needs than doing this. If you think about what boards are looking for and what CMOs are trying and CROs are trying to show to boards, one of the biggest things is they're trying to show the board that they're ahead of the curve, that they're innovating, that they're trying new things.

But then the infrastructure that they put inside of their company directly prevents people from being creative, from trying new things and innovating. And so when a company wants to do some level of r and d, typically on the product, like you got your entire company right here, your machine, and you're like, okay, we're gonna go and build a new product.

They put the r and d function outside of the company in a different office with a small team for a. Because when you bring the r and d into the operational complexities of the business, that the short term is gonna prevail over the long term and that the current fires are gonna prevail over the other, like forward looking things.

And so companies don't have this function. They put, they try, they say, okay, we're gonna spend 10% of our experimentation budget. They put it inside of opex, they track it as working dollars. It's not an experimentation budget if you're tracking the results against working dollars because then you push people to do things that they think are going to work or at least think are gonna impede the measurement, not the things that are gonna be most innovative or impactful for the company.

So I think our organization sits in a really interesting seat where we can actually be that r and d function outside, not constrained or bogged down by all the stuff that's happening in the day to day and actually think about what's gonna impact the business in nine months, in 18 months. How are you?

Thinking about way longer term in the future. And the reality is that just like a majority of companies don't think that way, and when you think about how your business is going to scale and grow over the next 10 years, it's gonna be driven through product and marketing. So like if you're not having these level of investments to figure things out and you think that you're gonna scale your company, just like how Salesforce scaled their company with a reverse sales headcount model, I think that you have just completely missed the boat on how people buy and discover products today.

So we'll see. I love when people sort of like, I get the same amount of pushback on. Self-reported attribution on standardizing pipelines so that it makes sense, not just arbitrarily saying, cuz we booked a meeting. That's what we call pipeline. I take pushback on whether companies should run lead gen or not.

I take pushback on all my ideas initially, so like I'm not concerned by this. Companies resist basically anything that's new or different. And so I actually treat it as a good side. If people aren't pushing back on a concept, that means that we're not pushing it enough. Yeah, you're too late. First they ignore you, then they shout at you and then they accept what you're saying.

Question. I assume someone within Refine Labs is responsible for all your revenue programs, like moving them through the process. Um, is that you or is that someone else? That is someone else. Kayley. Edmondson. What's the job? VP revenue r and d. Got it. Okay. So that person wouldn't be, were like in a, I don't wanna say normal organization, but no traditional B2 SaaS organization.

Do you think that would be like the VP of Revenue cro? No. So I question the definition of marketing today. I think that companies write, like some companies will run it where marketing is basically short term pipeline production, a like a comp for an outsourced SDR firm. Sometimes they'll put product marketing in it.

Sometimes they'll put product management in it, and it just becomes this one thing. And so as I think about the future forward structure of my business, we're actually separating it where we don't have a marketing function. We have a product management function that also includes product marketing. We have a revenue r and d function that's focused on how we're gonna drive revenue.

And then we have a revenue function, which is sales and account management. And so the revenue r and d function is always focused on delivery, on the targets, and setting ourselves up to hit pipeline target. And not then product marketing and customer research and all those things are housed in a different organization that we call product management, product marketing.

We'll see how it turns out, but it's really interesting to think about. I think that the way that companies divide the responsibilities between sales and marketing is quite flawed. I think that the things that sit inside of marketing and how it gets measured are quite flawed, and so I'm just out here as I build my company, challenging the way that companies have structured their revenue organizations up until.

So we're like, I've done the same people said I was dumb for marketing on LinkedIn in 2019. People will say, I'm dumb for not having a marketing function and having a VP of revenue r and d instead. But I prove things out for myself. I don't listen to what other people say and their opinions for people that haven't done it, haven't aren't doing the things that I'm thinking that we should do.

And I go out and do them for myself and some things work and some things don't. But then I've done them and I. I think a lot of people, because they wanna be so perfect with their decisions, they never want to get anything wrong. They don't actually try anything new. All right. I wanna thank Tatiana Beverly and ARD for questions on LinkedIn.

First one, Tatiana. Chris, what is the surest way David can take down Goliath in B2B in 2023? By be understanding your customers far better than they. By focusing your target customer to a term called super consumers. So if you take your TAM and you actually break it down to like the, the top 10%, not based on acv, but based on the top 10% of people that are gonna be evangelists that are going to promote the category, they're gonna drive tons of word of mouth and are gonna be most successful.

You find that target and you go right in on that target. And you do all the things related to dark social marketing that a big Goliath won't do because they still think that the MQL model is the way to measure the success. Those three things. And then obviously you have to have a great team. You have to have a great product.

I think those are kind of like table stakes if we're taught having this conversation and so, Dark social, targeting super consumers, understanding your, the super consumers far better than anybody else. I think those are the three things that, uh, drive the most growth. So I got a couple of messages from friends in the SEO world, and they were like, you have to ask Chris, like, what's the beef with seo?

What's the beef with seo? I loved seo. I was like, I argue one of the strongest SEO marketers. From 2013 to 2015, I built my first company off of Amazon Search ads and Amazon seo. I thought s I was the biggest proponent of seo. And then in 2015, I saw. That it wasn't, that SEO wasn't working, but hey, all these people are using Facebook and I can deliver them content or ads for a half a cent per person.

I can get customers for way cheaper by using Facebook and Instagram organic or paid than I am paying $7 a click for an Amazon search ad and. Then I just continued to follow that track. And then it was Facebook ads, and then it was Instagram ads, and then it was LinkedIn, and then it was a podcast, and then it was events, and then it's community, and then it's TikTok and all these things out here that I just said I've been doing for the past seven years with far better ROI than SEO and scm.

It literally comes down to if you are a small, if you're a, it doesn't matter what size of the company, if you're a company with limited resources, every company is, what are the things that you're gonna prioritize to do that are gonna drive the highest ROI and the longest term competitive advantage? And it's just not seo.

SEO's not even in the top five anymore. I don't know what to say. If you're selling a commodity product inside of an existing category and you wanna fight over that demand, If you're selling sneakers and you want to go and compete and search against Nike and all the other brands, then be my guests. If you're competing in the CRM category and you got a new CRM and you're a half a million ARR and you wanna go compete in SEO against all those companies for, for the term CRM and pay $880 a click and things like that, Be my guest.

It's a losing game. And so I'm not saying that SEO doesn't work. I'm not saying that SEO's dead. I'm illuminating two people. There is a massive human behavior shift that's been happening. I've watched it happen since 2015. It continues to accelerate and the people that are still doing SEO just basically show themselves that they are not following what customers are.

They're a search marketer. They're not a customer focused marketer, because if you were and you talked to customers and you surveyed them, and you researched them and you understood what their preferences were, you would be deprioritizing search. So let's say you're starting refined Labs again today.

Just you offering the same kind of thing. The market is exactly the same. Would it be TikTok podcast community events? It would be, uh, community events, podcast, LinkedIn and TikTok would be the experiment. So still LinkedIn, even though like, I guess you guys have been, I don't wanna say milking, but you've been really running that for like three years.

Yeah, that's what you're supposed to do when you find something in marketing that works, right? Like it's so crazy. Find something that works and then instead of doing, I'm gonna pay 50 K on seo, I'm gonna hire three people to do customer marketing, and I'm gonna do, no. All that stuff is out. Put all of the resources and energy into the thing that's working and make it work really hard.

It's like there's almost no company ever achieves a marketing channel like what we have on the podcast in LinkedIn. They've never achieved it. Most executives have never experienced. So many people listen to it. The message is resonating. We have attention of like basically the entire B2B sales and marketing market.

If you add LinkedIn to that, there's more scale. It's driving content, sharing slack conversations, internal conversations, people trying what we're doing, people talking about it. It's just an undeniably powerful asset, and so that's what we would. That's literally what I sit on this podcast that I recommend.

I get the q and A every time and people ask what I recommend and I'm like, just do what I'm doing. It's what I would recommend. Do you think there's par, like someone in the world of b2b. I think there a skill that maybe is underdeveloped is that talent spotting, finding the person in the business who can be the talent that can host the show or that can go on other shows or that can be on video, on LinkedIn, and then building the infrastructure around them.

Like you have like multiple of these people, like yo one, Todd's one. There are other people in your team that do this really well. But would you say that's gonna be an important skill for B Tob marketers in the near future? Do you know why? Like you perceive that it's lacking? Do you know why? Nah. The reason is because the people that are trying to evaluate the talent have never done it before themselves.

I know how to set up my organization to be successful because I did this for three years when I was a marketing manager and I ended up get the medical director and our best customer and the PhD science person in our company and all those people to put together the podcast. Cause I wasn't the. So I understand all the operational needs, I understand the strategy, I understand what I need to do from a culture standpoint to make people feel comfortable to post things and be creative.

So, and this is a marketing leadership or executive B2B leadership issue across the board, is that the people that are deciding who's gonna be my VP of demand gen, or who's gonna be my, that type of person, They've never actually done any of the things for themselves. So they're literally just looking at a resume and trying to find someone that's been at a good company and can talk.

And so the way that you get good at evaluating talent is that you understand the function well enough to judge whether someone's good at it or not. And the reality is that most B2B companies don't have that level of expertise in their business today, especially early stage startups. And so they swing and miss on a marketing leader because they don't know how to judge the.

They hire a marketing leader who then hires five people. And those five people aren't, that don't perform because the marketing leader doesn't know how to, hasn't run that type of operation before. And so what happens is that marketing leaders come in and they install the exact same thing that they did in 2016, and they bring it into your startup in 2022 with the lead gen model and their email, automated email marketing and their gated PDFs because they feel safe and comfortable because they've already done it.

Yeah, if you want to be good at judging talent, you gotta do the job yourself. Next hot take, starting with services before moving into products is a waste of time. We'll see how it plays out. I think that it wasn't a waste of time for a variety of reasons, and I'll sort of go through them. So for people that don't know, my strategy from the beginning has been to build a professional services organization to accumulate a great set of customer.

To be able to un get in those customers data, do deep consulting understand what their challenges. To be able to then get those insights and build products around the continued patterns that we see in companies so that our product development engine is super efficient and we have a lot of confidence in the products.

And then to make the switch where you go from a services company to a product company that also sells professional services, add on services. We're in the midst of this transition right now. We have a product that does about 50 K a month with 40 50 customers in beta. We have a Salesforce app that's coming.

Some of the best things that we've been able to do here so far. We built the company the right way from the ground up because we bootstrapped it, which means we had to be smart and have, we had limited resource. We had to be smart about how we built the company. A lot of companies would've just raised money, then they would have a big cat payback or things like that, and slowly give away their company to somebody else.

We retain 100% ownership of our company. We can make whatever decisions that we. We can be able to do anything without a VC blocking our sale or saying that we can't have a certain expense or not approving our plan. I don't need any of that shit in my life, so I not maintaining control. Controlling interest in the company was a big factor of this.

And being able to do the right things along the way, I think is something that's super undervalued because companies raise money. The goals get very big and great, really big challenges in culture, which I've experienced as an employee myself. And so it's not that it's a waste of time or it was a good use of time or anything like that.

It's about what's right for you. Like I just listed why this was the right path for me. And so it's not about one thing is wrong or right. It's about is it the right way for. If you are trying to get rich quickly or you don't wanna build services or things like that, do whatever you want. I mean, do whatever you think is best for you.

But this is the path that I've taken and I'm going to basically, I think that they'll have a Harvard Business Review case study or, or document about what we did here. When we look back, people will criticize it the whole way through. But I think when we're, when it's all said and done, people will write up about this and say, this is a really creative, interesting way.

To build a company the right way. Well, the 1.3 month CG payback should be featured in that article or will be. Question from LinkedIn. What is the most effective way to specifically use LinkedIn to achieve B2B sales from Beverly? So to craft and to talk to your customers, step one, to use those insights to craft a unique point of view on the market and how it fits into where you think that it's going.

And then to communicate that perspective every day through content on LinkedIn, which could be recorded videos, screenshots, text posts, whatever you think is the best to communicate. I think like those are the three steps at a very high level. I can go deeper if you wanna go deeper on certain things, but a lot of people out on LinkedIn shouting, They're not shouting about anything important, and that's not gonna give you a big business growth to get net new sales.

So you have to have the message, you have to have the target. Who are we targeting? You have to have the message. What are the message or messages that are gonna resonate with this audience? I know that because I've tested it with them in person and validated that it works, and then how am I going to package and communicate that appropriately for the LinkedIn channel?

Which images and videos have been what I'm gravitating to a lot of other people. Raw text, like a mini blog on LinkedIn cuz it gets better engagement metrics and so you can decide how to approach it from there. The distribution of the content is like basically a commodity. All that information is out there and you could figure that out or people miss is that I don't understand who my target customer is and I don't talk to them or I don't understand them enough to craft a point of view that resonates with the market.

All right, Beverly, I hope that helped. Next one, from LinkedIn from Wead. I'd love to hear Chris's thoughts on how B2B should approach going international. So I have a lot of thoughts on this one. I think that for the most part, B2B companies go international too soon. I think it creates a lot of operational complexity, specifically in marketing that causes a lot of challenges.

Fred's resources thin and then creates like almost like nothing. Instead of having one thing that works in the US market, they're trying to do the US market, apac six different languages in amea. And then they're spending all this money on translation and trying to figure out how they're gonna run the ads in Germany and things like that, when they should really be focused on how do we fucking destroy the mid-market segment in the us?

And so I feel like most companies should, if you took a revenue r and d approach, figure it out with a specific target in one market. Figure out what's the channel, what's the content, what's the mix that's gonna work, and then just go and replicate that in other high priority markets and then tweak it from there.

But I think that because companies basically start with, we don't have anything that's really working and we're gonna go out and try and tackle a lot of different markets at once, I think typically leads to spreading resources thin. And then your resources are focused on lower priority things instead of the core priorities of the business.

That's not to say that you can't start to. Channel partners, direct sales, other things like that in these new markets. But I think that you should really, if you're gonna do that, sort of leverage it, start it with that and not, don't distract a, an isolated marketing department that's in the US to go and market to APAC as well.

There are obviously nuances to that. Some companies are mature enough and are ready to go, but my take and what I observe is that companies typically do it too soon and spread out resources prematurely. Makes sense. Final question. Which is the revenue program in the pipeline that, for refund labs that you are most excited about?

My personal TikTok I'm most excited about. I had my best performing video happened on Saturday. It's got more than 200,000 views. Talking about dark social and the impact of that. I think that from a. Just platform dynamic standpoint. The algorithm, the content, mediums, the creativity, the ability to create.

I think that just has a ton of things that are far superior to other things in the market. You can watch as people continue to migrate there. A couple, three, four years ago, it was only Gen Z. Now basically everybody uses the platform. B2B companies are like, oh, that's not how B2B companies are gonna buy.

And maybe that's not how they buy today, but come talk to me in six to 12 months when that stuff's happening. I literally have cro. Chief Revenue officers at mature companies coming to my TikTok live on Tuesday afternoons. So to say that B2B buyers aren't making decisions that way, I think is incredibly tone deaf to what's actually happening in the world.

And I'm most excited about that because just like every other pattern you recognize, like Instagram, I know this is gonna work. Facebook ads, I know this is gonna work. And I feel the same way about TikTok. It's just a matter of time. All right. So anybody listening, search Chris Walker on LinkedIn. Search Revenue Vitals in Apple Podcast, Spotify.

If it's just Chris Walker on TikTok, will that find you? Yeah, Chris Walker, 1 71. Cool. And then obviously refin labs.com. Chris, I wanna thank you so much for your time here, but also so much for all of the time I've spent like consuming your information that's helped, genuinely helped me and my business and my career.

So I think what's great about the model that. That you advocate is that there's so much excess value created like in the world, a from what we find out is doing, but also how you advise your customers to do that. So it's a big thank you for me. Thanks, man. Appreciate you having me on here and everyone that was on live, I wasn't able to see you or interact with you, but I appreciate you being here too.

Hello, Chris. Thanks so much.

All right, and thank you so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed that. We have to give a shout out to Chris and Refin Labs, so go to refin labs.com, check out what they do. Also, thanks so much to hfs Web Master Tools, completely free. Google that the thing I just said, and sign up that's completely free, and you can see who's linking.

For free. And then of course, I wanna thank you so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you have any feedback, please go to Apple Podcast, leave a rating and review, and then I'll also be able to get you a shout out on the show if you send me a screenshot of that. Thank you so much for listening.

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