This week our host, Brandi Starr, is joined by Dan Dillon, Chief Marketing Officer at Reveal Mobile. Dan is responsible for all aspects of Reveal Mobile's marketing strategy, execution and measurement centered on generating qualified demand, sales...
This week our host, Brandi Starr, is joined by Dan Dillon, Chief Marketing Officer at Reveal Mobile.
Dan is responsible for all aspects of Reveal Mobile's marketing strategy, execution and measurement centered on generating qualified demand, sales pipeline and MRR. He has nearly 20 years of software marketing experience with expertise in marketing and sales alignment, revenue marketing, positioning, and messaging, influencer marketing, content marketing, and PR.
In this week’s episode of Revenue Rehab, Brandi and Dan Dillon dive into the hot topic of Influencer Marketing, with an important distinction: B2B Influencers. Join us for our first episode of 2023: Influencer Marketing: Leveraging Leaders & Advocates to Drive Demand.
Find 10 potential Influencers. Figure out your first short list of your 10 potential influencers to start, says Dan, and then curate that list as you go.
Dan’s Buzzword to Banish is the expression ‘dark social’. “I think really what it's supposed to get to, is the immeasurableness of it all”, he says. But it just ends up sounding unnecessarily sinister and scary.
Get in touch with Dan Dillon on:
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Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita, Brandi Starr.
[0:35] Brandi Starr:
Hello, hello, hello and welcome to another episode of Revenue Rehab. I am your host Brandi Starr and we have another amazing episode for you today. I am joined by Dan Dillon. Dan is responsible for all aspects of Reveal Mobile's marketing strategy, execution and measurement centered on generating qualified demand, sales pipeline and MRR. He has nearly 20 years of software marketing experience with expertise in marketing and sales alignment, revenue marketing, positioning and messaging, influencer marketing, content marketing, and PR. Welcome to Revenue Rehab Dan, your session begins now.
[01:21] Dan Dillon:
Hey Brandi, good to see you.
[01:23] Brandi Starr:
Good to see you as well. I am excited to talk to you today. And definitely a really hot topic that we're going to talk about. But before we get into that, I like to break the ice with a little woosah moment that I call buzzword. banishment. So tell me what buzzword would you like to banish forever?
[1:48] Dan Dillon:
I like this question. Forever? Oh man. That's a long time. Let's say dark social.
[1:57] Brandi Starr:
Ah, that's a good one. So why don't you like that buzzword?
[2:02] Dan Dillon:
It just sounds sinister. It just sounds ugly and scary. So I think really what it's supposed to get to is the immeasurableness of it all, like it's dark. We can't see it as a black box or hidden whatever. The fact of the matter is, that's really where conversations happen. And people recommend and take action. So the short version is I think, one day, it'll be measurable, we just need to get rid of this notion that it's dark, there's something yucky about that.
[2:35] Brandi Starr:
And I also think that there -- I mean, to a certain extent, there's always going to be the unknown social, which I think is probably a better definition is all the things that are happening that we can actually tie back to who's doing it. And I mean to a certain extent, there's always going to be that and it doesn't have to be ominous. It kind of, is what it is. And I know it is what it is, is one of the buzzwords that a previous guests banished, but it just kind of is and it's okay. And I think that's where the obsession with measuring things, and I jokingly say obsession, I believe that measurement is really important. But we're, to your point, we can't at least yet measure every single action.
[3:30] Dan Dillon:
Not Yeah, that day will come.
[3:34] Brandi Starr:
I will take your word for it. But at least for this conversation, we won't use dark social. And so now that we've gotten that off our chest, tell me what brings you to Revenue Rehab.
[3:49] Dan Dillon:
I am here to talk about a hidden -- speaking of hidden, a hidden part of the marketing value chain that often goes either ignored or is often taken for granted. And it's influencer marketing. It's the group of people, it's the group of entities that are out there either working for you and providing tailwinds or working against you despite your best efforts. So it's a really cool category of marketing that everyone benefits from.
[4:25] Brandi Starr:
I think I have more questions than I have insight on this topic. So I'm looking forward to diving into it. But before we get started, I believe in setting intentions, it gives us focus, it gives us purpose, and most importantly, it gives our audience an understanding of what they should expect from our conversation today. So tell me what is your best intention? What are your hopes that people will take away from our discussion today?
[4:55] Dan Dillon:
I appreciate you asking. That's a great way to frame it. I would say my intention is that brand is demand. So this is a conversation that bridges both of those worlds. And as marketers, we can do all those things and more. And influencer marketing really joins together this notion of the immeasurable brand aspect of our business, and the highly measurable demand aspect. So I hope that's a union that we can talk through.
[5:24] Brandi Starr:
I love it. So I'll go ahead and jump in. And I have a close friend and colleague who I've known for years, she's worked in influencer marketing for some of the biggest names in the tech industry. And I've seen the activations that she's had and how wildly successful that is. However, every company that she's worked for is b2c. And I think where I struggle is really making the connection between what I've learned of influencer marketing in a b2c environment with how that applies to b2b. And so give me some insight, like how do you define influencer marketing for b2b? And is it the same as the b2c side?
[6:19] Dan Dillon:
It's not. I'll paint the picture for you. So it's a great way to think through influencer marketing, it's very commonly used in the b2c realm. And a lot of people have heard of it and experienced it on that front. In b2b, it's quite different. So think of three concentric circles. In that center circle, the bullseye, if you will, is the buyer. Your customer, the prospect, call them whatever you want. The person who gives you money for the thing you're selling. That's the center of it all. Outside of that circle is you, the competitive set all the different ways that your customer can solve their problem. So there's two concentric circles. Sitting between those two sitting between your customer and you and your competition is all of these influencers. And these are journalists, they're analysts, they're consultants, they're bloggers, they are people on dark social, uh I think I broke the rule. All the people who are talking about you favorably and unfavorably, and influencing that decision. So the word media is a great word to use here because the media ultimately mediates our understanding of a topic or of an issue; but with influencer marketing everybody is the media, because they're all mediating perceptions, and behaviors between you and your buyer.
[7:44] Brandi Starr:
And so what I'm hearing here is on the b2b side is that, really, it's a reframing of how we think about influencer marketing, because analyst relations, for example, is definitely a hot topic and something that most b2b companies are paying attention to. But I've never really thought of analyst relations as influencer marketing, even though those are some of the biggest influencers in various industries but especially tech. So when I initially like naturally think of influencers. I'm thinking of the tick talkers and the Instagramers, and the celebrities that are considered. What you're saying is, don't think about it as a different thing, just think about it in a different way in those people that are key to those b2b brands.
[8:38] Dan Dillon:
That's right. An important distinction is that in social media or b2c influencer marketing, oftentimes those influencers are compensated. They're either given free product or they're given remuneration for actually talking about your brand. In b2b influencer marketing, that's a big no no, right? You can't pay off a journalist, certainly that would be unethical. You can't necessarily pay off an analyst and you can be an Analyst client. You can be a paying customer of Gartner, IDC or Forest or any of the boutique shops, but you can't pay somebody money to say something nice about you in b2b influencer marketing. So to think about it in simple terms, it's everybody who's talking about you, and it's not paying you money or receiving money for any of your stuff. Whereas in b2c influencer marketing, there's oftentimes an affiliate marketing angle to it, which of course, money changes hands there.
[9:31] Brandi Starr:
Okay. And I do I have seen a number of organizations that at least claim because I haven't worked with any of them, so I don't have any insight or knowledge but that at least claim to be able to harness that b2c see relationship on the b2b side and connect you with influencers and like I see these things being promoted. So is there a sub segment on the b2b influencer side that does mirror? That we would pay for?
[10:07] Brandi Starr:
It's a really astute question. I guess I would say there are services available or there are technologies available to you that will help you discern who your influencer set is. But they themselves are not influencers, they are a methodology for figuring stuff out. So I guess I would at risk of being totally wrong. There's really no real viable pay to play path. In b2b influencer marketing. It's really about relationship, it's about nurturing, it's about Goodwill, it's about trust and being in service. So all those things that maybe just make a good salesperson.
[10:49] Brandi Starr:
Okay, so we think about those people that are sort of operating as salespeople on our behalf. They're not customers, they're not making money from us, but they are speaking highly of us. Okay. So if we, as marketing leaders want to tap into this as a channel, what does that really look like? What are you know, we're at the beginning of the year, and we're doing plans and trying to enable things. So what does that look like for me? What am I communicating to my team? What am I expecting? Help me paint a picture for what this looks like in action.
[11:34] Dan Dillon:
So it starts with people. Oftentimes, they think of Gartner or we think of this media outlet, or we think of this organization, and those are important things to isolate and focus on. But who inside of those organizations, who at Gartner, who at the Wall Street Journal, whatever, is important for you to have on your influence or marketing radar? So the very first step is to get down to the human being, that you're ultimately going to try to win over by virtue of relationship and through good being in good service. Oftentimes, the brain says, oh well, we got to have TechCrunch. On our side, we got to have Forrester on our side. And while that may be true, there are people inside of those organizations that really should matter to you more so than the pub itself. And I have a methodology for sort of thinking that through and how important people are or how influential people are, but it starts with the human being not the organization.
[12:38] Brandi Starr:
So thinking about the people; And how do we know what makes a good influencer? If I think about Gartner, it's probably one of the biggest names that people know. And there are lots of analysts, that specialize in different things that have -- So if I'm trying to figure out who should be my person, who should I be trying to build a relationship with, getting them to love what I offer? How do I figure that out? How do I know that this is my person that I need to be targeting?
[13:15] Dan Dillon:
There are two axes. In that decision, the first one is reach. So how large of a platform does this person have? How often do they publish or how often do they speak, whatever the word? Who's listening? What geographies do they cover? What's the reach they ultimately have? That's an easy word for marketers to understand. That's not enough though. That's just how loud or how visible they are. The other axis is relevance. So that's the y axis. Think of it as an X Y, think of it as an X, Y, think of it as a Mark Magic Quadrant. Actually, you've got your reach across the x axis from very small to very large, and your relevance axis from general, squishy, vague, undetermined, to laser focused on what we focus on ourselves, what we care about ourselves. And when you've got those two axes at work, you can begin to plot people on the XY, on the Magic Quadrant, if you will. So people that are in the upper right are going to have a -- rather broad reach, or very large reach, I should say, and a very specific relevance to your area of interest. And then people in the bottom left quadrant are going to not be very visible. And they're going to be a little general in their approach. So you can imagine the other two vertices or the other two quadrants pretty easily.
[14:39] Brandi Starr:
Yeah, so I love the idea of making a Magic Quadrant for the people who make a magic quadrant that I love that visual of out-Gartnering Gartner.
[14:55] Dan Dillon:
I didn't out-Gartner them, I stole it.
[15:00] Brandi Starr:
Which I think is why they exist so that we can all emulate them. So we know that we are thinking about this. So let's take it out of the context of like the journalists and the analysts, I think are kind of the easier path, because they are highly visible and generally known in the space. But let's go a step further. I know you listed consultants, and there was a whole list beyond journalists and analysts. So what does that look like?
[15:36] Dan Dillon:
So there's a larger group of influencers, who will guide your future buyers decision, who are not actively buying from you today. And those are like you said, consultants who are in the ecosystem, and they're sitting in board meetings with large organizations, and they're speaking to the technology committee about the shortlist that the technology committee has come up with. So they're hired effectively, experts in the specialization, to help a buying organization or a buying entity or buying team hone in on the exact right solution. These are often very expensive engagements. The other cohort that we haven't really talked about yet is your reference customer. So of course, these are people who have bought from you in the past, they are not actively buying, but they are speaking on your behalf when you have a prospect in the funnel, who's thinking about it. So I want to put on the phone with that person, somebody just like that buyer, and have him or her have a positive interaction with that reference customer and hear all about their experience. So even though your customers have paid you money in the past, as an influencer, they're just happy campers.
[16:48] Brandi Starr:
So we are thinking about the people. So really framing who are influencers are, are the people who are already going to be talking about us or people like us. And we want to influence their insight about the org, who we are, what we do, why we're amazing. This all sounds great, and a lot of companies have roles that focus on analyst relations. I'd say not many b2b companies have a role dedicated to influencer marketing. So how do we justify this effort? It always comes down to measurement, proof that it's worth the effort and investment. So what does that look like in a b2b environment?
[17:48] Dan Dillon:
That's a great question. I'm really glad you asked that. Because it is measurable certainly. While it has to do a lot with brand, it does also have to do with revenue or demand and revenue in combination. So the first aspect is measuring output. How many times did you reach out to Gartner how many briefings have you done? How many emails have you sent to your shortlist of Gartner analysts who are writing next month's report, whatever, that's just a bunch of outputs. Outcomes ultimately are measured on coverage in the media, mentions, because you can be covered without being mentioned. Your space is covered favorably or unfavorably? How many mentions favorable or unfavorable neutral Are you getting? And then how many deals did that particular influencer ride Along with? So if it's an analyst, for example, and they wrote a report on your involvement in on the wave of the Magic Quadrant, and you move from, I don't know, niche to visionary or something like that, you can certainly measure that movement on that graph, but you can also measure whether or not that analyst or that influencer had an impact on the buying committee's decision at the buying organization that made their decision last month. And they're big tech buy was covered in the press. So they're oftentimes easy ways to correlate decisions that go your way or not, with a public coverage of that decision. So it's really about tying brand mentions, I guess, for lack of a better phrase, and then also deals in the door.
[19:24] Brandi Starr:
Okay. And really curious on your take, and this question is actually a little bit self-serving, because we're going through the process now of figuring out how to measure more of the brand's impact. How have you seen other companies actually track these things to be able to -- you think about so many other things. It's so easy, you look at your Google Analytics for your web visits, but this is one with mentions and things like that, that it really it happens all over the place. So how have you seen people keep track of it, in order to be able to measure it,
[20:04] Dan Dillon:
It is not neat and tidy. I will just tell you that right now. It is a inelegant and labor intensive process. But if you measure it well, then that labor is worth it because you're ultimately proving the value of your activity, tying into the outcomes the business wants to see. There are actually at I don't know of any by name today, but there are a number of software packages that allow you to track influencer engagements and influencer actions, if you will, not on the b2c side, but on the b2b side. Tik Tok let's you measure it on the b2c side, or whatever platform you're advertising or posting organically and, but on the b2b side, there are large software packages that integrate with Salesforce and HubSpot and other CRMs, where you can actually tie individual entities and the people inside of them. They're just like accounts and contacts in Salesforce, that allow you to understand whether or not that individual influenced a particular deal. So the influential activity is tracked inside of that platform. And by virtue of associating that data with your Salesforce data, you can report on deals in the door from your own activity on your team. The other thing, of course, you can do is track good old fashioned PR metrics, like we've all done, I'm sure at some point in our careers, mentions, sentiments, share a voice, all those kinds of charts and graphs that you might care about on the PR side. So those things in concert with each other, can be really powerful for measurement.
[21:39] Brandi Starr:
Okay. And I love this, because a lot of times when we introduce not necessarily new concepts, but something that our listeners are not already doing, it becomes this new thing that we have to figure out and resource for. But what I'm hearing is, this isn't necessarily really new; we're doing a lot of it, we've all tracked the PR metrics. So that applies here as well. So it really is a reframing of how we're doing certain things in order to really leverage influencer marketing to drive that demand.
[22:19] Dan Dillon:
That's right. You wouldn't want to sit out and you're one trying to become a leader in the Magic Quadrant. Maybe you're not even eligible for the report, maybe you're not even on the radar, right of the Magic Quadrant, or maybe you're not on the radar of some boutique analyst firms, best vendor report wherever the case might be. But your first year metrics could be, we want to be mentioned favorably three times in tier one trade publications. Okay, that's a manageable role, or 10 times, or pick a number. So when you set out on this path on this journey, you don't want to go from zero to... It's impossible to go from 0 - 60 in five seconds, you need to go from 0-10, in 30 seconds, and then you'll get to 20 and 30, and so on. So if you're starting to ground up, it is a process to build. But I would say after 12 months, assuming the product team is innovating your sales team is delivering is you know, executing and growing top line, you're going to end up on the radar of those organizations that you want to show up on.
[23:19] Brandi Starr:
So essentially, if we start now, then as we move into the next calendar year, we should have really established ourselves and have those relationships.
[23:33] Dan Dillon:
[23:34] Brandi Starr:
So where does this live in terms of responsibilities? So thinking about what role, what title, if I'm trying to figure out where who should own this, within my marketing org, where do you see this sit most often?
[23:50] Dan Dillon:
In a marketing organization of about 50 people, it could easily be its own team, an influencer marketing team. If you're in a marketing organization, that's 40 or fewer, it might be called something different. I'd be called PR AR, it might be called brand, it might be called Content Marketing. It sort of morphs over time into various permutations. But as you become more focused on the goal you want to achieve, we want to make it into the Magic Quadrant. We want to be in three reports that directors of IT at Fortune 500 companies, use whatever that measurable goal is. You're going to sort of up your game and bring your content team or your PR team into more of an influencer marketing habit or trajectory. So I think I've seen it in organizations that are as small as 50, and then of course, if you've got a marketing org of hundreds, then certainly you're a team of many at that point.
[24:59] Brandi Starr:
So what I'm hearing is when you're larger, it's likely going to be its own thing. When you're a bit smaller, it's going to live more in that PR brand kind of space. So even though we're going to leverage it to help to drive demand, these are not roles that sit within the demand organization.
[25:20] Dan Dillon:
You're right. It is an accelerator. It is not a pure demand generator. It's an augmentation to the demand engine.
[25:29] Brandi Starr:
Okay, yeah. And that's why I want to hit on that. Because I do know that that's a common question is, okay, this is something different that we need to focus on to have in our plan, but where should it live? Who should it sit with? Does it belong in a current role? Does it need to be its own role, all of those questions come up. And the fact that we talked about this as being something that it can help to drive demand, I'm glad you offered that clarification in that it is not a demand role. Very similar to brand, your brand efforts, definitely drive demand. But it's not measured the same there.
[26:09] Dan Dillon:
Another place it often lives or it's often born is product marketing. So with that proximity to the innovation side of the business and the delivery side of the business, you're often most equipped or best equipped to educate the market about what it is you're doing to transform whatever you're transforming. So with that proximity to product, you're the best spokesperson for educating that influencer cohort.
[26:40] Brandi Starr:
So it sounds like there's strong collaboration with your product marketing team, or product marketer, depending on your size, if you've got more than one, is a good opportunity there. Because I do know that a lot of times it is going to be some of the analysts and things like that, that do drive some of the product decisions or influence some of the product decisions, I should say. So that is a good alignment as well.
[27:10] Dan Dillon:
[27:12] Brandi Starr:
So talking about our challenges is just the first step and nothing changes if nothing changes. So in traditional therapy, the therapist would give the client some homework, but here at Revenue Rehab, we like to flip that on its head and ask you to give us some homework. And so what I like is to have that clear takeaway of if I am running a marketing org, and want to up my game, so to speak, when it comes to influencer marketing in the b2b space, what's my first step? What's that one thing that I can do to start moving the needle in the right direction?
[27:50] Dan Dillon:
Find 10 people.
[27:53] Brandi Starr:
Okay, 10 people.
[27:55] Dan Dillon:
So if you if you start reading the pods, or wherever you'd like to go and drink water to educate yourself on the market, figure out your first shortlist of just 10 potential influencers. They may not be the 10 best or the 10 most influential. But you're going to start that list and grow it maybe into the dozens into the hundreds over time, who knows, depending on the kind of market you're in. But you can't start without that first 10. So if you don't really know who is influencing decisions on your behalf, out in the ether, find those people and make that list.
[28:34] Brandi Starr:
I love that that is a great, easy win is to at least find the 10. And then going back to what we discussed earlier, this is where you can plot them on your own magic quadrant of reach versus relevancy. And if you don't have any of that 10 in your upper right, then that's a sign that keep digging some more. Or you may have some golden nuggets that you already get in your first 10. So I think that is an awesome takeaway.
[29:06] Dan Dillon:
[29:07] Brandi Starr:
Well, I have enjoyed our discussion. But that's our time for today.
[29:13] Dan Dillon:
Thanks Brandi, I appreciate it.
[29:15] Brandi Starr:
Well, thank you so much for joining me and thank everyone for listening in. I hope that you have enjoyed my conversation with Dan, I can't believe we're at the end. See you next time.
You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over but the learning has just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at revenuerehab.live. We're also on Twitter and Instagram at Revenue Rehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week.
Dan is responsible for all aspects of Reveal Mobile's marketing strategy, execution and measurement, centered on generating qualified demand, sales pipeline and MRR. He has nearly 20 years of software marketing experience, with expertise in marketing and sales alignment, revenue marketing, positioning and messaging, influencer marketing, content marketing, and PR.