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Lead Generation to generating business leads the inbound way. Learn how lead generation fits into your inbound marketing strategy and easy ways that you can start generating leads for your company.
We welcome the Conquer Local Podcast’s first Producer, Brock Andony. Brock started as an intern and now is a Content Marketing Strategist at Vendasta. He brings to life what it means to write a “Big Rock” content piece and the power it holds to continue to bring value and leads for your organization. Brock brings some shocking stats with him – 61% of Marketers say lead generation is their top challenge and 55% spend half their marketing budget on obtaining leads. He shares why organizations need to develop Big Rock pieces of content, create a release strategy, continue to gain leads of a large piece of content, and share what’s next for lead generation.
Brock is basically a digital marketing Swiss Army knife. What started as a childhood passion for fine arts has blossomed into an affinity for the more imaginative parts of demand generation. His expertise spans email marketing, performance content marketing, content syndication, paid ad strategy, SEO, web design, and everything else you need to generate leads in today’s business landscape. From co-founding early-stage startups, to winning the largest cash case competition in Canada, to pioneering new content strategies at large enterprises, he is always looking for the next immovable obstacle to overcome. Oh, and he also answers to Archie—for obvious reasons.
George: Welcome to this edition of the “Conquer Local” podcast. As we move through 2021, we are looking at that funnel that organizations need to build. What does that buyer’s journey look like? What is the use case of people that are coming for your solutions? How do we craft a message? And content marketing is really the key to building top of funnel awareness and bringing in those ideal customer profiles that you want to be speaking to. And we have a young gentleman at Vendasta, who is brilliant at developing amazing content. Brock Andony, content marketing expert, is gonna join me next on the “Conquer Local” podcast.
Brock welcome to the show. And I gotta tell the folks at home, Brock has been on the “Conquer Local” podcast probably more than any other folks, well maybe outside of Brent and Colleen but you helped produce the podcast in the early days and now here you are as a guest and welcome.
Brock: Well, thank you George. Yeah, it’s my honor to be here. It’s yeah I guess about two years ago, I would have been sitting in the other side of the table from here. But back then, we were just trying to keep the lights on. It felt like, and what the “Conquer Local” community and the academy and the podcasts and everything have grown into, it’s truly amazing. So huge props to you and your team over there.
George: Well, it’s pretty cool, it’s the team. It’s pretty cool to see things grow like that. And Brock speaking of growth, you’ve been with the company for a little over three years and started as an intern, which I always admired because you were still continuing to get your degree and working more than you probably should have been, but that’s just the way that you’re built. When I look back over this history, you have your BCom in Marketing, but you won 20 grand at a marketing competition. Tell us how you did that.
Brock: Oh, easy, you see, I pretty much stole a content marketing strategy that I was building at Vendasta and gave it to somebody else. So basically the story behind that. So it was a little productivity consulting firm based out of Edmonton. And it was actually the largest cash case competition in Canada at the time. And me and one of my colleagues from school who had competed on other case competitions together, we got together and decided we’d go for it. So it was like a three round interview process and we through the first round, made it through the second round. And the final round they invited the top 10 teams. They go out to Edmonton and present to the actual company in question and fight for a $20,000 prize. And we came out on top. So yeah, it was super exciting.
George: Well congratulations, I love to see that competitive spirit. I wanna talk about you as a writer and people may not know this, but I don’t mind telling people. You actually have acted as me a number of times. So thanks for really improving me. But in ghost writing some blogs and some contents and things like that, and the reason why I bring it up and the reason why I don’t mind talking about it is, I think there is this perception for business owners and for channel partners that you have to be a content writer, you have to write some of your own things. And I wanna dispel that myth because folks like you who are experts at writing, a lot of times you can take the concepts that somebody has and turn into something that’s just magical. And we see a lot of that happening in the industry, don’t we?
Brock: We really do. And that’s a big thing with content creation too because it’s the ideation process that’s really the challenge. Like I can write all day long, but coming up with the original ideas is literally 50% of the battle. And that’s why it really helps to have experts like yourself that we can kinda glean on. And then putting ourselves in your shoes to do something like ghost writing, honestly, for me, I had a lot of fun with that. I guess impersonating George of all the people I could write as, I mean, I had a pretty good time. So it’s honestly super valuable. And the thing with content creation is that it’s really how you repurpose and remarket that content. So, the name on it, the name that’s affixed to it, that’s really elementary in the grand scheme of things.
George: We know we should do. I happen to have a Vendasta hoodie that I would like to award to the listener that can pick all of the pieces of content that Brock ghost wrote over the years. So maybe go back, look at the blog, look at the LinkedIn profile. Look at my website, georgeleith.com and then reach out inside the community on the podcast on this episode and give us the number and whoever guesses close enough will get this a hoodie from Vendasta.
Fundamental Guide to Lead Generation
George: So I wanna talk about your baby. And not that you have a baby but you do have a baby that you’ve been working on for the past couple of years and is called “The Fundamental Guide to Lead Generation”. And a few episodes back in season three, Dan McLean our Director of content talked about this concept of a big rock. And for those on the broadcast today Brock is gonna tell you all about his big rock, “The Fundamental Guide to Lead Generation”. So first off, how many pages and how long did it take you to put this thing together?
Brock: Oh man, this thing, it may as well have been my child. The amount of time I’ve been working on it, it’s been I think it was about seven months in the making from ideation to completion and launch. And it’s been like pretty much my life. It’s almost, it almost cost me my soul but I think the end result was well worth the effort.
George: Brock, I’ve always admired your ability to take a concept and then you really relish in doing the research. This thing is 300 pages long, and I’m wondering the level of research that you needed to perform to then put together the idea and the story and to write it like it just, this is a massive piece of content.
Brock: Yeah, it was by far the largest project that I’ve ever tackled in my life. It came out as a 284 page guide. I think it was just shy of 70,000 words in total. And the research process was incredibly long and strenuous. I spent, oh it would have been hundreds of hours, reading blogs, digesting other pieces of gated assets out there. Just really becoming as much of an expert on the topic of lead generation as I could. And I mean, I’m a marketer and I think a lot of people think there’s this misconception that as a marketer, you’re a master of lead generation, but those are not one and the same. And I think that that was really a part of the a big part of the research process for me was just really becoming an expert in lead generation.
The Future of Lead Generation
George: Well, let’s test and see if the research that you did… you can’t go to the guide. So I want to test you here.
When we, when I read through this novel, and it’s an amazing content and congratulations, but you talk about the future of lead generation. So what, what did you learn when you went to do your research around where this business is going around lead generation? Because the reason why I want to talk about it is I get asked this question virtually every day by either a channel partner or one of their customers or somebody in the business, like in our building. Where do you think lead generation is going in the future from your research?
Brock: I mean, that’s a great question. I believe the way that I framed it in the guide was around mass personalization. And we’re starting to see that in existing programs already. So if we look at, if we looked at even LinkedIn. So a big proponents of how we’ve been marketing this guide is through LinkedIn conversation ads and the way LinkedIn conversation ads work is pretty similar to a direct message or direct mail ad that you might’ve seen in the past. Like, I’m sure we’ve all received those sponsored messages in our inboxes. But a conversation ad is taking it one step further. So the way you wire up a conversation ad is you wire up the first notes and then the recipient has to interact with it through buttons that they press or responses that they send. And then you pre-automate answers that are auto responded based on their responses to your inputs. So basically it rolls out almost like a conversation that you’re pre-programming. So that’s just one of the ways that major social platforms are really trying to dive into that mass personalization space. And it’s really, it’s taking so many of the things that we’ve learned over the years and account based marketing strategies and just trying to build them out at scale. So there are a lot of companies out there that are they’re building ABM solutions and that’s really what it’s gonna become is ABM at scale. That’s what I see as the future of lead generation.
Generating Leads with Social Media
George: LinkedIn, we’ve had a number of folks from LinkedIn on the broadcast over the last little while. We’ve been talking about this platform, of course, I’m an expert user. I use it every single day. I’ve drank the Kool-Aid, I’m all in on this thing. In taking this massive piece of content and then parsing it out into components and using LinkedIn, you are right on the cutting edge of the latest pieces of technology to get people to interact with it. What’s the ultimate goal of that motion and using that channel? What are you trying to accomplish?
Brock: Well, the irony here, George is that we’re trying to generate leads. That’s that’s the end game. “The Lead Generation Guide” is a lead generator for Vendasta and it’s been one hell of a lead generator so far. I checked the stats yesterday and so what we did to roll it out. So the guide was actually completed before Christmas but we knew that if we published it and tried to promote it before Christmas it would just get drowned out and all the rest of the noise at that time. So we waited two weeks and we published it first thing in the new year. But what we did in the meantime is we created a teaser of the guide, which was just the first chapter. And we ran a bunch of conversation and sponsored ads on LinkedIn surrounding getting your early Christmas gift from Vendasta. And these campaigns absolutely blew up. So we started with a small budget. And once we saw the attention that these ads were getting, we ramped up the budget, and we were getting bites like crazy. And then about two weeks ago once we publish the full guide, we switched to the full guide promotion on LinkedIn. Then we rolled it out onto Facebook and rolled out organic promotion as well. And grand total we’ve generated north of 600 sponsored posts leads, over 3000 conversation ad leads, over a hundred organically leads and that’s all coming in at an average cost per lead of about $40 which is pretty much record-breaking for the demand gen teams here at Vendasta.
George: Well it’s interesting for our listeners you’ll notice that Brock was quoting different channels where they’re measuring, and then also he has a measurement based upon other programs so the idea of taking this content putting it out in the wild, it’s not as simple as just using one channel using multiple channels, multiple tactics to put in front of the right users.
Brock, I have to be a salesperson. I just can’t help myself. Just because somebody downloaded this guide. How does that, how’s that a lead? Is that really a lead? All he did was open an email. How is that a lead? Now you’re laughing. I could see that you are worked because you and I have together for a number of years and we know a lot of salespeople. What is your comment on that? Where someone says, “Wow, just because they download that guide, doesn’t make them a lead?”
Brock: So there, it’s a different type of lead. What I would call this as an informational lead. A lead that not transacted but converted on an informational asset. And the alternative to that would be a transactional type lead. So a lot of the campaigns and the promotion that we do at Vendasta is around generating transactional leads. So this would be marketing things like free signups and a demo buttons. The likes of that. So with these, obviously the intent is a lot higher. It’s a lot more bottom of the funnel in nature, as opposed to somebody that may be downloaded a lead generation guide, but the only difference is really time span. So it’s what a lead like this a informational base lead requires is a lot more nurturing. So generating the lead is really just the first step and that’s just one of many touch points. So after the lead has been generated after they’ve downloaded the guide, we have a bunch of email automation setups that are triggering campaigns sending them correspondence for weeks after the download, pushing them towards additional Vendasta and “Conquer Local” based assets. We also have remarketing campaigns that are running on social. So any of the people that converted on “The Lead Generation Guides” on social are getting remarketing messages surrounding the market use case.
George: Well, so interesting. I wanna talk about this so that the audience understands because I think what we found in, and you’ve been a part of this because you sit right on the frontline sales floor, is that setting the proper expectation with the organization as to what this lead really is, is important because sometimes you have a lead come in, they walk in, they have their checkbook and they buy. Right. They put their credit card in and they just buy.
Underneath the hood, there’s been a lot of research that has went into that before they get to that purchase phase. So we go back to a piece of content that we’ve been pushing out over the years, the modern customer journey. We have that interest in awareness stage. We have the can I find the brand, the search and the find-ability. Then we go to reputation and then we go to conversion and then advocacy. But when you look at a piece of content like this it actually has the tendency to play in a lot of those different stages, where you could place it in an ad campaign to drive top of mind awareness. You also could place it into your search. You could put it onto some of your listing sources as a piece of content that could be downloaded. You could then have components of it, because I notice in this piece of content you actually have some testimonials that goes to reputation and trust. And then when we get to the purchase point, there still is that idea of, yeah, I get the guide. Like I actually get the thing and I get to have it in my hand. So I think it’s important when you are looking at a content marketing strategy to make sure that the other stakeholders in the organization understand the purpose of the various items.
The Origin of the Fundamental Guide to Lead Generation
George: Where did this idea come from? Like, is this something that, you had in your back pocket, or you read or was it something that was mandated to you like, “Brock go out and get this, build this thing?” Like, where did the original concept come from?
Brock: That’s a bit of a story, actually, George. So the idea originated actually, I believe it was with our previous VP of demand gen, who was Devin Henig, who was also a guest on the show, I believe. And essentially it was always a pipe dream of his to create this ultimate guide idea to lead generation. And he actually created a variation of this on his own personal website but he always wanted to see a branded version for Vendasta. And when I started working on this I was actually kind of in between teams. So this is when we were kind of transitioning away from the enterprise marketing team and towards more of a core marketing group. And we were starting to build out different silos within that. So I was kind of homeless for awhile there actually. And I didn’t really have a whole lot on the go, I didn’t know who my direct report was. And I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to tackle this thing. I’m going to start writing. I’m going to make this lead gen guide.” And when I started writing, I thought, “This would be a one month process. I would put pen to paper and I just grind it out.” And the more, the more I went over it and the more I reiterated the more this outline grew into this behemoth. And the more I drafted content and started to backfill information the more it kind of blossomed into this massive massive PDF that it is today.
It was kind of it was a perfect storm of events because it wasn’t a shot in the dark. This was when Vendasta was kind of transitioning to our new use case framework. And one of those key use case is that we’d identified was the market use case. And that’s a use case that was somewhat underserved with respect to contents at that time. So one of the topics that we thought was really pertinent to that group, that interest group and that need was lead generation. So what we did is we now we started packing together this piece, and yeah it’s a, it probably should have been a 30 page PDF but if you’re gonna do it, you may as well do it, right. So it became 300 .
George: Brock you don’t do anything half-ass, that’s why you and I get along. I’m glad that you gave that color because I think it’s important for our listeners the folks that serve businesses to understand that you probably won’t write a 300 page guide for those businesses, but having the content strategy align with what the company is trying to accomplish.
So when you’re in the needs analysis motion with your client, tryna understand where they’re going as an organization or what the vision is, and then aligning the content strategy of the organization to that. And I’ve been doing some R&D with some end user businesses. And I found, and I have one client that I’m working with right now, I found that this idea of a marketing funnel where you’re using content generation to generate leads, it is quite foreign. They don’t even understand that it might be a thing. It’s like run an ad and get me a customer. But having that content that you can utilize as the ad copy, having that content that you could send to a prospect to build trust in the brand. There’s their sales organizations that they have no clue what to put in the email that the sales teams are sending to potential prospects. They have no idea what to send while they’re in the middle of the deal negotiation process, where you send the proposal out.
Let’s say I’m on plumbing company, and I send out a proposal to a business that I’m doing work on. What do I do in the meantime when I’m doing followup with that customer? And having some of these pieces of content you can then take components of it. And it, again, leads to that level of trust. Not to mention you just put it as a PDF in the footer of your email and they can download it.
So this content strategy has to stop start at the very top of the organization, align to the strategy of the organization and then you need a Brock; someone who can write an amazing story and do the research and give some sizzle to the steak and then get it in the hands of the parts of the organization that are going to get the eyeballs on it. So it really needs to be this cross-functional group that is making sure that the content is, it’s the right story. It aligns with the strategy. It then has the ability to be broken up into components so it can be used in various places. And then you’ve gotta have the discipline and the accountability to make sure the frontline teams are using it as part of crafting the message or the overall brand of the company.
Using Social to Amplify
George: Well I want to talk a little bit about how you utilize these items on social because inside “The Lead Generation Guide” it talks about all the different social programs but you’re not just running ads on LinkedIn with this. It’s building out blogs and it’s building out social posting calendars. What where are you going with this Brock? What’s the plan?
Brock: Oh, George, we, we have all kinds of plans. So yeah, you, you absolutely nailed it with what you’re getting at like really content is the backbone for all of these other programs. So when you create an asset like this that’s literally less than 50% of the battle. It’s what you do with it after. All the syndication tactics that you deploy that really give it legs and give it the potential to generate those leads that you’re trying to generate in the first place.
So surrounding social PPC was obviously the first motion that we deployed, ’cause it’s the quickest and the fastest, and we had that stop gap to fill. So we started generating leads as quick as we could on PPC. So we’ve also deployed an organic posting schedule. So we’re gonna be, you’re gonna be seeing Vendasta talking about the lead gen guide for weeks and months to come. But then the next component of this is as I created this I actually parsed it out into about 45 different blogs as well as the core guide itself. So you may have seen these as well but there are about 35 blogs in addition to the ones that have already been published that are all queued up to be published over the next 35 weeks. So you’re going to see blogs coming out on a blog marketing, on newsletter marketing on all of these different topics within the guide right into August of this year. And it’s gonna be social work surrounding that. There’s going to be email campaigns drafted supporting. There’s a lot of work to be done still. And yeah, we have a lot motions in place.
George: So when, when you look at the time and effort that you put into this, this isn’t just to get the release date, January 10th, you’ve got the pretty much this next year sorted for this line of content by using that. And we’re going to use the big rock. The definitive guide is the big rock and then you take components of it. And it goes across all of the different strategies that you’re using. And I will tell our listeners, I’ve been noticing and talking to organizations. They’re really struggling with what do I put into an email campaign? What are the hooks that I put in there? What is the messaging that I want to deliver? And when you have one of these big rocks that has been written properly that it can be parsed out into components. It really starts to solve some of that challenge that you have around. What am I going to do with my social campaign in February? What am I going to do in my email campaign to this customer group? It’s a long lived solution. Brock always great having you on the show. And thank you for sharing with us the journey that you’ve been on in building this definitive guide to lead generation. Any chance I could get you to unveil what you’re working on next?
Brock: Oh, sure thing. So actually you’ll love this one George. The next big guide is gonna be “The Comprehensive Guide to Sales Enablement”. So with “The Lead Generation Guide”, we aim to tackle the market use case. And next on our hit list is the sale use case. So stay tuned for “The Comprehensive Guide to Sales Enablement”.
George: Good. So that will be done next week.
Brock: Yeah, sure thing. Be on your desk.
George Excellent. Brock thank you for joining us. And we look forward to continuing to conquer with you.
Brock: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me, George.
George: Well, as you can tell Brock and I’ve worked together for quite some time and I love interviewing him because he just hit the enthusiasm of this gentleman and the way that he loves creating content and telling the story is just infectious.
But let’s unpack what this is all about because content is such an important component to the brand that you are representing in a marketplace. And as I continue to work with channel partners and then work with their customer base, I find that it just is something that people don’t get the power and what it might mean to their organization. Now, I don’t think that you need to go and write a 300 page definitive guide. You’ve got to kind of grow your way into that. But when we look at the idea of maybe even a 10 page PDF, that could be your big rock and then it could be your social campaign for the next six months. And it could be a number of blogs on your website. So it solves a larger problem.
But when you go to find a writer or you reach out to an organization that says that they do content you wanna very clearly set that expectation that you’re looking for one of these big rocks. And, but you’re also looking for the ability to build out a social calendar and build out a blog calendar, and then even go as far as this becomes some of the content in your emails. Again, I do a lot of work with small businesses to have some stories to tell and to see what’s going on on the, on the street. And when I talk to salespeople in organizations I don’t care what it is, agricultural businesses, maybe it’s in plumbing company, anybody that has a sales motion. Those sales reps are trying figure out what to put in emails. They’re trying to figure out a way to engage the prospect and they don’t have research teams and they don’t have folks that just do that all day long like a ‘Brock’.
So what we’re hoping to accomplish in these episodes in the first six months of 2021 and season four is to give you some of these components. And we’re going to give you big ones because we just, I love doing big stuff but you need to take it now down to how it could work for you and your organization, then how you could position it for your client base. Because what we’re talking about here isn’t just for tech companies. And it isn’t just for large companies. It is for every company, that ability to have that content to position you as the trusted expert in whatever field you’re in, and then to take that content and amplify it and put it in front of the right eyeballs so that you can build your brand and move people into that lead motion, and then eventually across the finish line.
I think there’s two very telling stats when it comes to lead gen and marketing that we’ve found. And I wanna leave you at these two stats. 61% of marketers say lead gen is their number one challenge. Not even that, it’s their number one job. It is the number one challenge of their job. And then 55% say that they spend half of their marketing budget on obtaining leads. So this is a very big business and we have found that this concept of big rock and then utilizing the components of it and putting it out through various channels to amplify that information and build your brand is the way to generate those very very valuable leads that you need for your clients and that you need for your business.
And what about this guide that we keep talking about? We have the link right inside the notes for the podcast. You can download your own copy of the 300 page definitive guide on lead gen from the one and only Brock Andony. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.