#15. From Soundtracks to Growth Hacks: How Gaetano Dinardi Applies Music Industry Lessons to Grow SaaS Companies

Gaetano DiNardi got his start in the music business producing tracks for the likes of Fat Joe, Shaggy, and more.

His first marketing gig was with Mike King of iPullRank. From there, it was on to SEO at Pipedrive and marketing lead at Sales Hacker before they were acquired by Outreach.

Post acquisition, Gaetano left to join Nextiva as Director of Demand Generation, where he applies the same content and SEO playbook he’s perfected at each stop.

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Brad: (00:00)

Yeah. Gaetano. Thanks, man for joining me here. Uh, how’s it been going?

Gaetano: (00:05)

Yo Man. What up? All right. It’s gone while usual, usual trouble in paradise over here man. You know, leads, traffic, conversions. You know the deal.

Brad: (00:14)

Honeys on a boat from that lady music video I saw.

Gaetano: (00:17)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, that’s, thanks for bringing that up man. One thing a lot of people may or may not know is uh I definitely I got my start in marketing because of music. Um, I realize that, uh, you know, if I’m going to try and put myself out there as a music producer and songwriter, I kind of have to do all the same shit

Gaetano: (00:41)

that startup company would have to do. You know, I’ll have to figure out how I’m going to brand this and we’ll have to figure out messaging. I’m going to have to figure out what is my, uh, go to market strategy for my music. What channels am I going to use what influencer marketing, uh, relationships am I going to have to build?  I’m broke so I didn’t have money for ads, that’s for sure. Any money that I did have was spent on actually creating content, things like video production, audio production, uh, stuff like that. So yeah, I got my start in music, uh, and marketing, um, you know, one hand kind of complemented the other and, as you just mentioned, I just dropped a new banger on my youtube channel. So if you want to go peep it, uh, you can go check it out there. Um, just search Gaetano music on youtube and you’ll find it.

Brad: (01:33)

For sure. Yeah, we’ll link it up too, but I didn’t know you’re still doing that. I didn’t know you were still producing music. Did you take like a break? Cause you’ve got like, you got a little busy, so you started in music. To catch some people up.  Got into Marketing and then you’ve worked for kind of a slew of different, like start a company that we’ll talk about, but I didn’t realize you were still kind of doing music stuff on side.

Gaetano: (01:53)

Yeah. In fact, um, it’s, it’s something that like I talk a lot about, I guess you can call it a thought leadership angle or personal brand building angle, whatever you want to call it. But one thing that I think is kind of cool is that I am pretty openly spoken about things that like I am passionate about outside of the business world. Most people just kind of talk about their accomplishments and yeah, I did this amount of revenue from x to y and I grew this and I did that and we raised this much money and yeah, I’m successful, I’m great. But no one really opens the shed behind. Like, what are you actually, are you a human? Like what do you actually do? Yeah, we do some corporate robot. Um, and uh, um, um, um, one thing that’s very important to me is like letting people know that like, I’m not a corporate robot.

Gaetano: (02:38)

I’m actually this kind of like rogue outlier. Not many companies would actually want to work with me just because of how outspoken I am about certain things. And, uh, it’s still something I do to this day. Um, even last year I had a production credit on Fat Joe’s album. So, you know, um, it’s, it actually is great because when I’m feeling like damn work is killing me or like I’m, I’m working way too much. Like I just go do that and then I feel way better. So it’s kind of like this um, push and pull kind of balance thing and uh, it works for me. Great. And helps me kind of reenergize and refresh.

Brad: (03:11)

That’s cool. I mean I think it makes sense cause you get, I think you get your best ideas from outside of this echo chamber. Like we’re going to know what you’re talking about, the competition and people like obsess about the competition and then they just like rip off whatever they’re doing and then it’s like they’re surprised when it doesn’t work that well. When in reality, like you take ideas and we’ll talk about some of the campaigns you’ve run that like lately that have been super interesting that you don’t really see many other people doing it because you’re not just like reading Twitter all day and consuming that everyone else is.

Gaetano: (03:41)

Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. I consume very little Twitter nonsense, um, trying to consume fewer amounts of Linkedin nonsense, but there’s just a lot of it out there. Um, and yeah, like you said, dude, like it’s funny the best B 2B marketers don’t think like B2B marketers. They think like other things and other ideas and inspiration from other sources. So, yeah,

Brad: (04:05)

definitely. Yeah. So, uh, what was your first gig kind of when you first your first break in marketing, when you’re just getting out of, or not getting out of the music industry, I shouldn’t say that, but when you’re looking to kind of learn like these new skills and adopt some of this new mindset?

Gaetano: (04:19)

Yeah, yeah, sure. Um, so pretty much, um, I just didn’t want to live in my mom’s like, you know, basement anymore, pretty much. And, uh, and I had a music website that I was getting a lot of traction on. I’ve tried, became fascinated with like, how are there all these random comments popping up on my blogs? Like I didn’t reach out to these people, how are they finding it? And I realized, oh my gosh, they’re finding us through Google search. Let me learn about analytics. Let me learn about, um, keywords. And I realize like, damn, this is what they would call SEO. Like and all I was doing was, uh, reviews of music companies. So I would write like, you know, music company x is a scam. So then when people were searching for music company x reviews, mine would be the first thing that pops up.

Gaetano: (05:09)

Little did I know that that one music company brand was getting thousands of searches a month. And that company actually, the one that I wrote a very scathing article about back in the day, uh, still hits me up to try to get me to take that article down and I won’t do it.  Yeah. They sent me a fake cease and desist. Um, it was fake. I knew it was fake because like the language just like didn’t look right. It was on some stolen legal letterhead from like some fake lawyer. Like it was just all bs. Um, so yeah, long story short, um, I found this guy- Michael King- who had a fascinating story that I was really inspired by. Long story short, he was, um, an international touring independent rapper. Uh, the backstory on him is he’s like this weird unicorn of a person that is like freakishly smart.

Gaetano: (06:06)

He can code every programming language known to man, but he’s also like a beast rapper. And, uh, I found that really intriguing and he’s a fantastic like well known marketer. Um, but yeah, he was just tired of doing the whole touring thing, you know, that’s kind of takes a toll on your body and stuff. So he decided to open an agency. He ran many agencies before that and he was starting up his own agency, uh, called I Pull Rank and I was, uh, his second hire there. Um, my story was kind of compelling for him as well because like we had a lot of things in common with a musical background and yeah, I was just like, look man, I’m gonna keep it funky with you.  I got a college degree that’s probably not worth that much to you, um, I got this website that I’m getting some traffic to that might be interesting to you.

Gaetano: (06:57)

Um, I have this whole music thing going on that might be interesting to you, but I’m just trying to really like, I’m not in this for money. Like I’m in this for like actually learning how to do something cool and something valuable. Like a skill. Like I wanted to learn a skill that I couldn’t learn in school and um, he was like, cool, here’s what we’ll do man. You have to present the marketing strategy behind your music and if you do a good job I’ll hire you. Uh, so I did a good job, got hired and that was my break.

Brad: (07:24)

That’s cool. I like that approach. Do you think like having your own website already up and running played like a huge part of that obviously?

Gaetano: (07:32)

Yeah, it was important, man. Just like having my shit together. You know, I had all my social media channels, um, secured, like I had music out that like I was like promoting, uh, I was doing shows, I had my sight, you know what I mean? And it just showed like what it showed even beyond a college degree is just like initiative.  You know, in his mind he’s like this person is a go-getter. Like he’s going to be the kind of guy that I’ll give a task to and he’s going to go to town on it. He’s not gonna you know, be flustered or say that it’s too much work or whatever the case may be. Like I think that confidence and my self-starting sort of initiative like made him think like, okay, this is probably somebody worth taking the chance on

Brad: (08:14)

For sure. I mean, how do you hire now? Like that’s how we hire, we hire for initiative. Like they need to know something. They need to have like the basic understanding. But that’s ultimately like we’re throwing all these hoops and people’s way so they just quit and then we’re like, okay, they’re going to quit or they’re going to complain or they’re going to miss deadlines. You’re really, that’s all word. That’s literally all we’re testing initially.

Gaetano: (08:32)

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. I’m for the same thing. The things I want to know her like do you have a passion project, some kind of creative thing that like you’ve done, have you built up your own? Like one thing I really love is like if somebody say has a food blog and they’ve built their own email list and like they have their own social channel and it’s growing in followership like that. I love if could if I find somebody who has done any sort of thing like that, like I really give a lot of a preference to those kinds of people. Um, I also give a lot of preference to people that I can just sense like are emotionally self-aware and just get it. Like chemistry and vibe is like a really big thing too. Um, and not just with me but with the team as well.

Gaetano: (09:17)

Um, and then I guess the final thing that I really look for is like, um, they’ve got to be passionate about like a specialization. I don’t want generalists, you know, I don’t want to talk to somebody that’s like, yeah, you know, I’m like good with ads and like I’m good with like content and like, you know, I really like video. It’s like, all right, oh Whoa. Like you should have adjacent knowledge of all these other things. But like one thing like I always ask on interviews, what is the one thing that you are great at? Like you are the best at this one thing. What is that? That if I don’t have a clear answer of what that is, I’m probably not going to hire that person.

Brad: (09:56)

Yup. Yeah, I like that a lot. It’s almost becoming more important because look at  SEO, like anyone who says they do SEO, you’re like, okay, whatever. Like there’s so many, there’s so many multiple facets of it. Like you have to specialize in, in technical, on page, content, link building, influencer, you have to pick subsets now, like underneath all these signs.

Gaetano: (10:17)

Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Like I would rather have somebody who is like really good in one of those areas that rather than, it’s just like kind of good and like all of them. Right?

Brad: (10:28)

Yeah, for sure. I think you went from I Pull Rank. Did you go directly to Pipe Drive?

Gaetano: (10:35)

Yeah, exactly. So that’s another thing, you know, I’d definitely recommend any marketers that like want to fast track their growth, fast, track their career trajectory to start at an agency, or at least have experience at an agency. Cause you’re gonna have big clients, small clients, Saas clients, ecommerce clients. You’re going to get the, you know, the full kind of ringer. They’re gonna run you through the ringer. Um, and then from there, yeah. So I, I did start in an agency. Went right in house to Saas. Um, and the reason why I went to Saas was because I liked a lot of things about the SAS business. I like subscription. I like predictability. Um, I like B2B. Um, and I also had a lot of experience doing SAS websites and B2B clients at the agency. And I always felt like, you know what, like, I can pick apart these websites now pretty fast.

Gaetano: (11:27)

Like, a website to maybe a survey software website, whatever the case is. Like all you have to do is understand that this SMB or as an enterprise, what are the, what are the funnels, what are the, what are the flows for discovery to check out. Um, ideally there is a self-checkout. If not, then you know, you’ve got to figure that out. But like it was Kinda like, yeah, like I just get it. Like I just get Saas and I really love Saas and, that’s why I went to Pipe Drive. Um, did really good work there, had a great time there, met great people, uh, left definitely a good stamp on the company. I think the one thing I left there that I felt really good about was just like making people think about SEO as they’re doing stuff.

Gaetano: (12:12)

Like before I was there, the SEO was just like, yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s do it at the end. You know, it’s just slap some messy on, you know, just boom, got the SEO salt shaker and by, you know, and it’s like, yeah guys, listen, you know, this, it’s not really how it works. Right. And then, uh, you know, when I left, I think they were taking that into the, into the baking ingredient process. When you know you’re creating the, that cookie dough matter, that’s when you want to get SEO in there. Um, so yeah, I did that and uh, from there went to sales hacker, um, as you know, there I really flourished. Was able to, you know, work with a guy, Maxalt Shuler, uh, gave me a really big opportunity to run that media brand as I wanted to. And that was like the big thing that I want and like for once I want creative control, you know, at the agency it was like, no, I had to do the shit to the clients wanted. Pipe Drive, pretty controlled environment.

Gaetano: (13:02)

You know, VC funded high growth a lot at stake. It’s like I couldn’t really flex my creativity muscle. And then sales hacker, I was like, listen Max, I’ll run this shit for you, but I got to run it my way man. And he was like, you know what, I’m cool with that. Let’s see what you can do, let’s see what you’ve got. And um, yeah, it took it from where it was to getting acquired by outreach io. – a unicorn tech company that has over a billion dollar valuation at this point. Uh, decided not to join them. And now I’m a running Demand Gen at Nextiva, uh, a business communications solutions. So here I am.

Brad: (13:37)

Awesome. Yeah. So I know when you were just beginning to join next to you, but I think we were talking and you were like about the run about to start with like a big audit and I know that’s something you’ve done it kind of like the previous places too. Are there, what are, I mean I feel like that comes out of the agency world, right? Cause that’s what you start with like without client. What um, what are you looking for though? Like when you’re auditing something, especially when we’re talking about progressively bigger brands and like Nextiva now, which we’ll kind of dive into a little bit like what, what are you looking for in terms of, um, like resources on your team, opportunities, what you’re doing well, what’s not going so well? Like what are you, how are you trying to prioritize the workload? If thhat makes sense.

Gaetano: (14:17)

Yeah. Uh, dude solid question right there, dude. Um, all right. So usually like with Saas, right? Like you get in there, you do a website audit, you uncover what’s happening under the hood and you look at technical content, you look at links, the keywords, you also, when you’re in house, one thing you pay a lot of attention to is branded search because these are the things that are like immediately, you know, um, controllable and you can make a big impact with that. Um, so when I actually started, when I had to do differently though at Nextiva, just because it’s a, it’s a new industry, you know, they’re in this space called UCAST, which is unified communications as a service. There’s a lot that goes into it. I actually had to spend like my first month dude just learning the ins and outs of the business and the industry. For once I was not able to just like CRM.

Gaetano: (15:09)

Yeah, I get it. Survey software. Yeah, I get it. Like all this other stuff that’s kind of one dimensional, you get it. With this, it’s like there’s a voiceover IP, their CRM, there’s um, cloud security, there’s business intelligence, there’s dashboards, power bi, there’s all these things happening, business text messaging, um, all the sort of stuff. And uh, the industry is weird because it’s like the audience is hard to define. Um, so that’s another thing about it. Whereas like with sales hacker it was very clear like, yeah, B2B tech, these are the profiles. Boom. Um, whereas this at like spans much wider. So I haven’t just learned a lot about the industry. I had a really spent that, first of all, the company is huge- over a thousand team members. I had to spend a lot of time getting to know people in the marketing department, outside the marketing department, sales, um, channel, which is our partners and reseller network.

Gaetano: (16:03)

Um, so before I even like did any real website shit, it was like a month of just like learning the business, learning the product, uh, to, with Pipe Drive. Yeah. I mean I could learn that product in a day. You know, it’s a sales CRM. It’s so easy. It’s like boom, two seconds you’re done. With this, it’s like there’s a voice component, there’s a CRM component, there’s a survey component. Like I had to spend a lot of time learning about the product. Uh, I don’t believe you can be a great marketer if you don’t really know that much about what you’re trying to market.   So I had to spend a lot of time doing that. And then finally I was like, all right, now let’s start to get into some, you know, teams, team structure stuff and figure out how are we actually gonna start moving the ship forward. So it’s a little bit different. But that was the approach. Yeah.

Brad: (16:47)

Is it different too cause like if you’re at an agency and if you’re at pipe drive, you’re the guy doing it all. You’re like the technician, the craftsperson and you’re like hands on. Where I know it’s like when you work with enterprise companies it’s the opposite where like you don’t touch anything but an enterprise company, 

Brad: (17:02)

a lot of times you’re working through other people when it comes to the skillset like evolves completely. 

Gaetano: (17:09) 

Yeah  It’s, it’s tough man. So I mean you as a business owner would probably know this too cause like as your team grows you are getting less in the weeds, you’re working, you’re working more on the business than in the business. And with me kind of running the eight person Demand Gen team now it, you know, I still get my hands in there. Yeah. But not like I used to like, you know, I used to have to do everything for Pipe Drive at the agency. I used to have to do everything. It’s even got sales hacker, you know, 20 person startup. Like I had to do a lot of manual work. Yeah. I’m really in there and now it’s like I have to scale myself through others.

Gaetano: (17:46)

I’ve got to spend time with people. I’ve got to, uh, figure out what motivates them. I have, I’ve got to figure out what turns them off. I’ve got to figure, I’ve gotta be able to sense when they’re unhappy. I’ve gotta be able to sense when things are just not right. Um, I’ve got to be able to also like help them feel like their voice is being heard. So I’ve got to be able to like take what they give me an amplify, like, and I’ve also got to protect them from a lot of bullshit. So there’s that whole aspect to, to everything. Um, but yeah, it’s just weird, you know, being so used to training that do it muscle and now you’re not doing as much, you’re more delegating and trying to be, I guess, executive, if you want to call it that. It’s such a weird feeling because I’m so not  an executive. Uh, but yeah, man, and that’s just how it is. I mean, the, the one thing that like I, I always think about more than anything else, it’s like, yeah, of course I got to perform numbers, I got to help sales at quota, but the real thing I measure myself on is like, what would my team say about me when I’m not there? You know what I mean? And if like that’s not like 10 out of 10 gold stars, then I’m fucking up.

Brad: (18:55)

Yeah. It’s weird too because it’s almost like, um, you know, like force yourself to continually confront what you suck at as you’re evolving because I think it’s very easy to be, to just get stuck in your little box and like, I’m just gonna like for us it’s like, oh, I’m just going to write all day. And it’s like actually me writing is going to like hurt our company because I’m not doing all the other stuff. I shouldn’t be doing that, but I need to get better at, want to make sure like  the momentum continues to take off.

Gaetano: (19:22)

Right. And it’s the same with me, like me doing, spending two weeks on a big, you know, 70, 80 page, you know, technical audit deliverable is actually going to hurt the company because while that’s happening, everything else is going to be like on fire.

Brad: (19:37)

Yup. How would you describe your role now? Are you like, is your role though essentially set like big goalposts and then empower people and kind of like motivate them to move towards them?

Gaetano: (19:48)

Yeah, it’s a, it’s a lot of that. It’s also, um, a lot of cross-departmental, um, educating. So one the Demand Gen department is the most sought after group in the company because to so many people, it’s foreign. Like no one knows really. Like, how do I run this campaign? How do I run ads? How do I get traffic? How do we get leads for this new thing? How do we build demand for these products? Everybody has ideas on like what tactics, like they should do. But like a lot of times there’s just like a, a misalignment of like tactic to desired outcome. So a lot of it is telling people. Um, and all of this is a very bad idea and for xyz reasons, this is a very good idea for xyz reasons. Here’s how we’re going to approach this. Setting expectations, timelines on campaigns.

Gaetano: (20:44)

That’s a big thing too. Um, and then just like the day to day stuff. So I know what’s happening in the world of creative. I know what our ad spends are. I’m tracking returns on those keywords. SEO traffic performance, daily lead gen numbers. I’m looking at all that. One thing I’m also doing a lot more now than I’ve ever done before is listen to sales calls, talk to sales, um, constant feedback, what’s hitting, what’s not hitting, what lead sources are hitting, what’s what leaders are not working. And then I’m also determining like, you know, damn, like working with sales is really hard because they start to create certain, like judgements in their mind about lead sources. So automatically they think paid lead sources or are bad. No, I shouldn’t work those. They’re not going to close right away.

Gaetano: (21:31)

I don’t even want them. Oh, the, the organic ones. The ones that fill out a, a website quote. Yeah. I want to nail those because you know, historically those are the easier ones to close. So it’s like, hey sales rep, listen man, you got to fight for that, for that deal baby. You got to fight for that close. Don’t just look for the layovers. Yeah, you’re going to have, you know, out of a hundred interactions you’re going to have those few unicorn interactions where they’re just ready to buy. You know? And yes, we want to get you as many of those as we can, but don’t just think that, you know, because it’s, it came from ad words or whatever and you can see the lead source that they’re not as interested as somebody that came from another source. So it’s a lot of that kind of shit, man.

Brad: (22:13)

Yeah. How does, I wrote this, I think I wrote an article. If not, I was thinking about it a while back. About something how like salespeople are your best marketers. And the idea was like, marketers talk about what customers want, but like none of them, no, because we don’t actually talk to any of them and uh, and but salespeople are like doing it every day. So how does that change your perspective on marketing and lead gen and add sources and whatever, like interface, listening to sales calls? Like how does that change your perspective on actually figuring out how to, how do I better serve these people?

Gaetano: (22:46)

Yeah. Yeah. I mean there’s so many obvious ones like. You hear all I really care about is the practice, you know, like that kind of accent like Todd Todd’s tow truck company in like Kansas, right? Like Todd Todd, the tow truck guy doesn’t really care much about like, you know, fancy analytics and all this stuff. He wants to know how fast can I get to the point where like, this just works. And how much money am I going to save against what I’m currently paying? Because, you know, my business kind of fluctuates with seasonality.

Brad: (23:31)

Mhmm.

Gaetano: (23:32)

Oh, payroll, uh, may increase or decrease depending on how seasonality hits my business. Uh, there could be influxes of storms that caused major accidents and then like that creates a surge of business for them. But like the reality of like a lot of these small businesses that we serve is like some may last, some may not. And like price sensitivity is a high thing. So when you hear sales call after sales call after sales call, oh, what’s my, what’s my final monthly bill going to be? Oh, uh, yeah, features. Yeah, whatever. What’s my price going to be? What’s, how much is that like if I have five seats, how much is it going to be? If I have 10, how much is it going to be with tax and everything included? So this is the final amount, what’s the amount that’s going to get charged to my card? Like when there’s so much of the discussion around price and so little of it like call after call after call after call and other things. It’s just like, all right, like we get that price has to be highly positioned in the landing pages. Like, it’s what they care about the most and we’ve got to make pricing like super, super easy and clear and simple. If we don’t do that, you know, we’re going to fail. So like that’s just one example. There’s many, many others. But like that’s one.

Brad: (24:39)

Sure. I’ve seen that even influence the sale channels, lead gen channels you’re using or even like keywords you’re bidding on or whatever where you’re setting expectations based on the type of people that are looking for those things or finding you in those places, uh, that needed to be kind of revamped or  rethought. So if you’re using like, I dunno, anything with like we do, I think we talked about, there’s actually a couple of weeks ago on a phone call, like using anything around like “free” for example. Um, you’re attracting the wrong people right out of the gate and it has a huge impact on sales and it’s not something that most marketers don’t, don’t really like think through that.

Gaetano: (25:15)

Yeah, exactly. There’s like a, you know, perception of value thing going on. Like it’s the same reason why when people go to CVS, why do they buy the Listerine brand mouthwash for like $4 more where they could buy the CVS brand mouthwash for like $4 less? because there’s some kind of like, oh, I don’t know if I like this CVS brand. It just seems like, I dunno, it’s like generic. It’s like low quality. Like it even looks a little lighter color. Like there’s less cleansing juice in there. Like my mouth may not feel as fresh after. Whereas, like  that Listerine brand is just, Oh man, look at that. Like, yeah, I know it’s a little more, but like I just know it’s going to be good and like our products and stuff, like it’s kind of like the same thing.

Gaetano: (26:13)

The only thing, the only challenge that we really face is, um, obviously communicating that value on the sales calls. That’s a given. But the other thing is like end of the month offer frenzies from competitors. So end of the months become a real squeeze because you know it happens three free, for all those leads that are like in limbo, they’re looking to close them. Hey, if you close by the end, if you close by Friday, if you sign by Friday you’ll get this and it’s like two months free, three, three months or unlimited free phone hardware for life, like just all sorts of crazy shit. And it’s just like at what point do you say, yeah, I’m not going to do that. You know, and that and that area is actually not my expertise. Like when it comes to figuring out how to manipulate offers and stuff like that, like we have, you know, pretty smart people that, that are best suited to solve that problem. That’s not a problem. I’m great at solving but my take on it all is just never discount. That’s me.

Brad: (27:13)

Yeah, for sure. I think you, like you said, you thought you set a dangerous precedent depending on how you do it, your road, like the value proposition. So you spend 50 minutes of an hour sales call talking about like the benefits and the value and the the end outcome that they’re going to get a and then you kind of like a road all that with a discount at the very end.

Gaetano: (27:32)

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. You, you pick up so much on sales calls man, like even just like, like I’ll give you a good example. There was a call that I listened to the other day where  a sales rep spent like an hour on the phone with like a non-decision maker.

Brad: (27:50)

Yeah

Gaetano: (27:52)

I get it. But at the end of the day it’s like why would you show a non-decision maker every feature that we have?  That persons not going to even use every feature. They don’t even know what a lot of these features are. They’re just, they’re just relaying information to a decision maker person. So it’s just like, yeah, this person needs to be coached. Like if you’re like you don’t want to shrug off a non-decision maker, they can certainly influence a deal. But you don’t want to spend an hour on the phone with somebody that’s not going to be signing a contract at the end of that hour. You understand. So it’s this shit like that man? It’s just you just learn something new every day. It’s cool.

Brad: (28:28)

For sure. Even like your point about going into depth on all these features, I feel like sometimes you’re going to overplay it. Uh, where like a lot of people don’t really care about that or even like, like Hubspot and this relates back to your, your CVS example. We’re HubSpot is really expensive. Right? But it’s good. So it’s like  I want to use Hubspot and so the sales rep is like, it doesn’t even matter. I’m just going there because of the brand and because of the value that I think is going to come to me from the product. I don’t care. I don’t care about like how the lead scoring mechanism works per se.

Gaetano: (29:00)

Yeah, no, exactly. The cause. The reality is that like they all kind of work pretty similarly. You know, there’s not really the only thing that’s gonna make me true. Like imagine two products A and B, they do more or less the exact same thing. They’re more or less priced exactly the same. Why would I choose one over the other? It’s really just brand experience and trustworthiness at the end of the day. Um, that’s why you see like the battle of drift versus intercom who’s, uh going to be perceived as more trustworthy. And that’s why you just see like a lot of social activity, a lot of brand. There’s a lot of brand marketing with them, you know? Um, yeah, it’s, it’s just like the Hubspot point you just mentioned like their brand is so significant now. It’s like, yeah, like do you want it or not pretty much.

Brad: (29:49)

For sure. Um, I think it’s interesting too, you mentioned branded search a little while ago. I feel like if we look relate this back to like content and Seo, most especially agencies I feel like are tasked with growing like non branded traffic or unbranded traffic. Yeah. So long tail stuff, which is important for growing

Gaetano: (30:08)

Mhmm.

Brad: (30:09)

For growing like the top of the funnel. But the issue is you really do want to grow the branded traffic cause that’s, that’s the people at the bottom of the funnel. We’re going to like buy from you. Oh for sure. For sure. Growth in branded search, that actually is a better indicator of like brand visibility or awareness, which ultimately is a bigger indicator of conversions than like

Gaetano: (30:28)

then almost anything else that yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. I mean if you just search your like if your brand is like pretty big, right? Um, and let’s say you’re at least in the state, like I guess I would say like not raw startup, but let’s say you’re an SMB company. That’s high growth. Let’s say you’re like what Pipe Drive was when they were like, I don’t know, 300 employees. They’re probably a lot more than that now because when I left they were about 300. Um, but let’s say you’re something like that where your VC funded, right? Your brand is definitely starting to pick up steam. The trend for brand notoriety has gone up like that. Um, if you use that, people also ask box on Google, you just do your brand name search and just go to that people also ask box you click than another one opens up. All day long in there you’re going to find all sorts of shit and you should have answers for every single one of those questions. And then you should do that same kind of thing in like Quora.

Gaetano: (31:26)

Like you’d be shocked and even Reddit, like you’d be shocked at how many questions there are about brand in these forums and like you gotta be all over that. And that’s part of like reputation management, PR, I guess you can call it, but traditional PR, they don’t know how to do this. They’re just thinking about how can we position an interesting brand story. Like somewhere like, yeah, that’s all fun and good. But at the end of the day, like when you’re talking about like how much does a Nextiva voip costs versus Nextiva pricing, those are actually two separate things. So the next have a pricing query that just goes right to our pricing page as it should. But then like how much does Nextiva voip costs? That’s a very specific question about a very specific product. We have a blog on that, you know what I mean? Because we realized that that was a big opportunity and now we have something to satisfy that search and there are many, many others that we are, we’re still tackling. So you gotta be on top of branded search for sure.

Brad: (32:26)

Yeah. Especially in B2B where volumes are way less. And there are a lot less on branded or non branded queries to target and go after, it’s usually a lot more crowded. You usually have a lot bigger competition with a lot more money, like all competing after the same view. Like you know, a hundred search volume a month, uh, query that kind of thing.

Gaetano: (32:50)

Yeah. Well did you, it’s a good point. Um, cause you know what will happen if you, if you ignore a branded search and if you don’t solidify yourself as the answer to that question, others are going to do that. So, uh, these aggregator sites, they’re gonna look into it. They’re looking to snipe traffic from you off your brand and they’re going to do it because they have a lot of these aggregator sites now are monster strong domains like you, you know, the space. So like, you know that these aggregator sites can do, but they’ll write about your pricing and a lot of times it could be wrong where your pricing could change and then they won’t change it. And guess what? An aggregator could actually get the Google snippet for when people search, how much is this product? They have the snippet. It’s wrong info. People are seeing higher prices than what’s actually true and they’re not buying you because you left your destiny and control, uh, in someone else’s hands. So that’s why you got to do it.

Brad: (33:50)

Yeah, for sure. I think you can learn a lot from looking at like affiliate style content or like these aggregators and rankings and marketplaces and directories. Um, a lot of people even told me like, especially in B2B they’ll do a lot of advertising and other like whatever they can essentially on those, those platforms because you are getting so many people looking for comparisons before they start looking at the brand. So before when they try transitioning through that buyer, you know, the classic buyer’s journey from like, like kind of aware of the problem to okay, let me actually look at like how does Nextiva compared to x, y, z. So before they even hit your site, they’re already like looking at pricing, they’re looking at all this stuff that you’re trying to be clever and like not show on your website. That’s like always kills me as people try to do the opposite, mostly B2B. They hold stuff back and it’s like, okay, I’ll just go to like, I’ll just go to this competition site or one of the other ones that they’ll tell me what your pricing is. 

Gaetano: (34:44)

Exactly. Yeah. Like, so the, for those sites that want to hide their pricing, it’s going to come out like, yeah. You know, that’s why I’m not a fan of hiding it, but I know a lot of enterprise companies do it just cause the sticker shock is so astronomical. And then even when you do ask about pricing, uh, on a phone call, you never get an answer from a rep to that. Well, we want to get more information from you so that we can offer you the best-customized solution for your needs. You know, it’s like, just give me a freaking ballpark here. What the hell are we talking about? I want, cause I need to know if like we’re in the, you know, a range here. That’s, that’s doable. Are we talking 10 g’s? Are we talking 50? Like, you know, what’s, what are we talking here? So, um, but yeah, all it takes is for some guy to go on Quora and tell him how much your product costs. And there you go.

Brad: (35:33)

Yeah. Or give them the wrong price and likescrew that up.

Gaetano: (35:37)

Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Brad: (35:38)

Exactly. Uh, one of the things I think you guys do really well and you have a mix of like long term and short term stuff. You have a mix of like referral and viral stuff versus like ongoing consistent stops. So you do a lot of like you’ll do a lot of advertising for kind of like the classic big, you know, um, good key words that you’re just going to like consistently spend on and worked till I tried to optimize a, you’re doing a lot of like classic Seo stuff or a lot of classic SEO content. Uh, like glossaries I think, I think I’ve seen those on like three other sites that you’ve worked on.  So targeting everything from long tail stuff to branded stuff, webinars, but then you also do like the most recent or maybe the most recent, um, video you did, but it’s a little more like social kind of viral content with, uh, you, you were asking, you’re asking people at a mall if they would like want it to, to check out, like your sales deck and all that kind of stuff. So can you just like explain a little bit of back story of like how that kind of came up and where the idea of like the initial kind of concept came from?

Gaetano: (36:40)

Yeah, yeah. Thanks dude. I mean, uh, really, uh, the idea was like, let’s just do something different and just, let’s just get the brand more well known because at the end of the day, back to the branded search thing where the less known than competitors, like if you look at our top competitors, like Vonage for example, Vonage is a household name man, they, they’ve done TV ads, they’ve done big classic style billboard ads. They’ve sponsored major sports teams. Like they’ve, they’ve got the, the, the cash, you know what I mean? Like they can, they can do that. You ask most. And they also have a residential and business service. We just have business service. So their total addressable market is automatically doubled and, um, they’re just more well known. So, uh, the idea was like, how do we just like get ourselves more well known? How do we just do shit that is not even directly tied back to any sort of product at all.

Gaetano: (37:36)

That’s just like interesting. You know, like even before awareness and that sort of classic AIDA awareness, interest decision action funnel. Even before that is like stranger, like I don’t even know what this brand is or what it is or what it does that it even exists. So the idea was just like, let’s just do something on social that’s gonna, you know, hopefully hit a big spark. And that was it, man. So it was pure brand play, pure fun, jokey, hey, we’re different kind of thing. Um, of course showcasing my kind of goofy personality as well. But the thing is like, those kinds of things lead to more stuff. It leads to podcast interviews. It leads to me being able to write a guest post about it on Harvard Business Review, which turns into a backlink for Nextiva, which turns into referral traffic, which may turn into a customer you don’t know.

Gaetano: (38:33)

Um, and then just, you know, kind of that effect and one domino effect after the next. So it’s like, yeah, it’s tough to draw a direct line back to like say monthly recurring revenue. So like, you know, a CFO would hate the idea of us spending money to produce a social media viral video, but at the end of the day it’s like it’s all part of the equation and um, I don’t think you can afford to ignore any of these areas of your funnel or a business that much longer and um, you know, as we are gearing up to go into 2020, um, and yeah, I guess to close on that, you know, we noticed that like a lot of our competitors, they don’t care about that stuff anymore. Like they do the big brand ads. Um, but no one’s doing anything cool on social media. No one’s doing anything different or funny or interesting. It’s just all the same kind of boring craps. So it was also to kind of differentiate as well.

Brad: (39:26)

For sure. I mean I think it ties into what we talked about the very beginning where you’re taking this and this never happens to B2B. It happens more in B2C because in B2C marketing, it’s done promotions. I’ll just like fuzzy. You know what I mean? Like it just doesn’t matter. Like everyone just, you could just do or say anything and it’s, people kind of understand that that’s what you need to do to further like the ultimate goal. But with B2B, no one really does that. And so if you’re looking at like, if you’re just benchmarking off the competition and if you’re just like looking at what pages they’re ranking for and like creating, let’s just create something like that, you know, uh, you never hit those breakthroughs. So that’s the whole, the whole reason it did kind of blow up a little bit was because no one does it.

Gaetano: (40:06)

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And dude, like you said, you know, you could easily go to a third party tool, hey, Vonage is, you know, getting search traffic for these terms were not, so we should be doing that. Yeah, that is part of it. But the other part of it is like let’s go to some whacky tool like answerthepublic.com where you put um, you know, uh, kind of a head word are beefy keyword in there are some short tail and then it spits back all of these question-based keywords back at you and you realize like these don’t really have that much search mine but damn the intent is high and you do a search for it, you know, no one’s publishing anything about that. So yeah, I could spend a lot of time just trying to like go after the same terms as everyone else or I could just do blue ocean strategy where like everyone’s over there. I’m going to go over here. Um, let me, let me, let me try this. And you know, it’s just a time versus life priorities then like what do you want to do? Like do you want to fight an uphill battle and maybe get there in six months or do you want to just go for things you can win right now? You got to figure that out.

Brad: (41:16)

Yeah, it’s hard cause it’s a little boat, like marketing is a catch 22 where you’re trying to both increase conversions but also grow like the total market too. And you can’t do one without the other. Like if you want to get more conversions, you can only increase your conversion rates so much. If you’re closing 25% of your sales then that’s pretty good. That’s not bad. So it’s like okay well we need to grow the top then. And then when we grow the top we had to come back and address the bottom and there  is like this constant kind of like leveling up where, it’s tricky.

Gaetano: (41:46)

Yeah. And at the end of the day it’s just not going to be able to slow down either. Like it happens, it happens all the time. You know, a CMO will hit me up, dude, we haven’t had any major tier one stories placed in and legit, you know, publications in a while what is going on? And I’ll be like, damn, we’ve been focusing on bottom of funnel keywords like crazy for the last month and a half. We’ve totally ignored PR. We do have a person on it, but they need help. Um, Shit. Now I’ve got to go over there and it’s a thing. Um, but yeah, like you said, you know, you, you got to kind of balance it all and um, it’s a catch 22- no other way to put it.

Brad: (42:28)

for sure. Uh, well thanks again for joining me. It’s been fun catching up.

Gaetano: (42:32)

Yeah, Dude. For sure. Um, it’s all, you’re always somebody I enjoy bouncing ideas off of just talking about shit in the industry with um, you know, doing work with as well. Of course. So it’s always great to have you in my corner. Appreciate you bro.

Brad: (42:47)

Thanks dude. Uh, anywhere we should send people after of this.

Gaetano: (42:51)

Yeah. Um, you could, uh, just hit me up on LinkedIn. That’s pretty easy. Just a search me there. Gaetano DiNardi it or um, yeah, that’s, that’s the best way to do it.

Brad: (43:03)

Dude, you’re a monster on LinkedIn. Or one time we were at uh, that one conference and you were just doing this all day. Like slanging people all day. And I like people here we had just talked to like down the hall and you were like, Oh yeah, let me just talk to this guy real quick over here on LinkedIn.

Gaetano: (43:18)

Exactly. Exactly. Because at the end of the day like, uh, you know, your digital clout is just so powerful. Um, my goal is to just be able to like blow a little air on something and it goes viral, like I just want that.  You know that guy Oleg Vishnepolsky? He’s like this, he’s the chief technology officer of some newspaper in the UK, but he’s got an insanely huge LinkedIn following like millions or something like that. Like it’s not, he has this like formula of things that he posts that are very soft and fluffy and like there’s business like is tied back to them. But you know, an example would be like two lions running in the jungle and it’s like, what kind of company do you work for? You know, or something like that. But like it go huge. But yeah, I want to get to like that kind of level to where I can be so influential that  If I need to promote something or if I need something that like I could just snap my finger and my network will like help me do it.

Brad: (44:19)

Yeah. Well it sounds like you just need to dumb down your shit and do more like bullshit motivational, uh, animal quotes.

Gaetano: (44:26)

Yeah. Oh Man. Yeah. You know, maybe I’ll throw it in there for the final just to see how it goes. But people are going to know that that aint me. But I think a guy like that, you know, I think he’s been on that LinkedIn wave for so long. Like he’s beat everyone to the punch. Like even me, yeah, I’ve been going hard at it for like the last like year or two. But like I don’t know like I feel like it could also die soon as well. Cause like you’re also starting to see like engagement go down. Um, they got us, you know, LinkedIn got us real good where they sparked up the newsfeed algorithm, juice real high. Um, now engagement is like really high. Everybody’s all about Linkedin, but now they’re going to quietly just turn the notches down and then what? Guess what companies are going to say? Hmm. LinkedIn’s real great. We should start advertising on LinkedIn now because we know everyone’s there. 

Brad: (45:22)

How bad are LinkedIn ads?

Gaetano: (45:24)

I would not recommend it. I would not man. Very, very, very, very high investment because think about, think about it. Most people on LinkedIn are trying to sell shit. Yeah. So you’re trying to sell shit to other people trying to sell shit. It’s just like, it’s so tough, man. It’s so tough. Um, yeah, I haven’t cracked it. Um, maybe some have but not me. Yeah.

Brad: (45:49)

Uh, well anyway, thanks again for joining us. Um, we’ll link to a bunch of stuff as well to heople understand it. We’ll leave. We’ll also link,  maybe we’ll throw in like the banger here at the very young, just a quick clip of it.

Gaetano: (45:58)

 Oh yeah. You should, you should, you should you share, please do.

Brad: (46:05)

Do you have any other songs coming up?

Gaetano: (46:07)

Oh yeah. I got, um, uh, Italian trap songs coming out. Yeah. So you know that new kind of like mumble rap genre. I’m taking that, but it’s all in Italian. It’s blowing up dude.  The Italian version of it. I mean the Italian version of it is blowing up. Totally. So, and that’s actually something I can

Gaetano: (46:33)

plan something nice for and put like Italian trap 2019 in like a lot of the like titles and like it can probably go cause like it’s getting searched it now, but like nobody is searching for like, you know, pop music or like they kind of are, but it’s just like so hard, you know, I can’t really get in.

Brad: (46:49)

Yeah, for sure. Oh, that’s cool man. Well, we look forward to hear it. Uh, maybe we’ll, maybe we’ll work out some licensing deal where I can play, I can play these beats that are like an intro and outro.

Gaetano: (47:00)

Sure, sure.

Brad: (47:02)

All right. Thanks dude. Appreciate it.

Gaetano: (47:04)

All right, man. Later.

Highlights

The best marketers get outside the business world for inspiration 3:54 like it’s funny the best B2B marketers don’t think like B2B marketers. They think like other things and other ideas and inspiration from other sources. 

What Gaetano, as an executive, looks for when interviewing candidates 9:46 One thing like I always ask on interviews, what is the one thing that you are great at? Like you are the best at this one thing. What is that? That if I don’t have a clear answer of what that is, I’m probably not going to hire that person.

How to grow as a marketer and gain skills quickly 10:37 I’d definitely recommend any marketers that like want to fast track their growth, fast, track their career trajectory to start at an agency, or at least have experience at an agency. Cause you’re gonna have big clients, small clients, SAS clients, ecommerce clients. You’re going to get the, you know, the full kind of ringer. 

Learning this about your employees makes you a more successful manager 17:46 I got to spend time with people. I got, uh, figure out what motivates them. I have, I’ve got to figure out what turns them off. I’ve got to figure, I’ve gotta be able to sense when they’re unhappy. I’ve gotta be able to sense when things are just not right. Um, I’ve got to be able to also like help them feel like their voice is being heard. 

The reason building brand trust and reputation is so crucial 29:13 Like imagine two products A and B, they do more or less the exact same thing. They’re more or less priced exactly the same. Why would I choose one over the other? It’s really just brand experience and trustworthiness at the end of the day. 

Why you need to be on top of branded search  31:03 If you use that, people also ask box on Google, you just do your brand name search and just go to that people also ask box you click than another one opens up. All day long in there you’re going to find all sorts of shit and you should have answers for every single one of those questions.

32: 51 Cause you know what will happen if you, if you ignore a branded search and if you don’t solidify yourself as the answer to that question, others are going to do that. So, uh, these aggregator sites, they’re gonna look into it. 

How out of the box viral content can benefit company in the long term 38:15 But the thing is like, those kinds of things lead to more stuff. It leads to podcast interviews. It leads to me being able to write a guest post about it on Harvard Business Review, which turns into a back link for Nextiva, which turns into referral traffic, which may turn into a customer you don’t know.

Gaetano’s strategy to move against the grain and create impact 40:48  So yeah, I could spend a lot of time just trying to like go after the same terms as everyone else or I could just do blue ocean strategy where like everyone’s over there. I’m going to go over here. Um, let me, let me, let me try this.