Communicate Influence

From accidental SEO pro to director of demand generation

Gaetano DiNardi

Marketer Gaetano DiNardi shares his success story

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Marketer Gaetano DiNardi

For a podcast host, there is nothing more exciting and fulfilling that interviewing someone who is accomplished and truly interesting. My interview with marketer Gaetano DiNardi was just that. He is Director of Demand Generation for Nextiva, a business VoIP phone system & customer management software company based in Phoenix, Arizona.

In this episode, Gaetano explains how he studied marketing, but left college feeling lost, not knowing what to do. A passionate musician, he entered the music industry and with his writing accidentally taught himself SEO. From there, he got his first job in marketing, eventually making his way to Nextiva.

We also discuss demand generation and its best practices. In my next episode, Gaetano and I continue the conversation, discussing remote working – he’s based in Florida – and the skills and talents he looks for when hiring content writers.

Like the show so far? Please let your friends know and add a review to Apple Podcasts! Thank you.

Podcast Transcript

Hey, it’s Sheelagh was the communicate influence podcast some brief housekeeping notes. If you enjoyed this podcast, please let your colleagues and friends know and add a review to Apple podcasts. Thanks. Today, I have a fascinating guest for listeners who are marketers are working in demand generation.

It’s Gaetano Denardi a successful marketer and brand Builder based in Florida Gaetano finished college with no idea what he wanted to do because he was a musician and music producer. He threw himself into the music industry in doing so he became a self-taught expert in SEO. This happened in part because Gaetano wrote prolifically Posing lots of music production scams that exploited young people who were trying to make it in the Cutthroat world of music after a few years with some success behind him Eternal never looked back today Gaetano is director of demand generation with Nextiva a phone system and customer management software company with superpowers. Yes a super powers because it says so on their website in our next interview Gaetano and I will talk about remote working his management style.

And what makes a great content marketing writer. Hey guitar low, welcome to the podcast. Hey, thank you so much for having me. It’s awesome to be here.

And I’m looking forward to chopping it up with you gonna be that’s great. Yeah, it should be fun. Thanks so much for taking the time, especially on the weekend. Anyway, let’s kind of jump in and Gaetano.

Why don’t you tell us? Tell us a little bit about yourself and Nextiva the company that you work for and what they do. All right. Yeah, cool. Nextiva is an awesome company.

We are we’re transforming the way that businesses communicate and what we’re aiming to do is help businesses. No, remember and understand their customers better and what it is that exactly we do is we have voice over IP business phone service software. So that’s kind of the flagship product. We’re we’re kind of known as a disruptor in the space because what we’re doing is we’re helping businesses move away from these on-premise PBX clunky phone systems and moving it to the cloud.

So that gives businesses mobility and flexibility and freedom to run their businesses on the road. We have a soft a soft phone application to You don’t even need a desk phone anymore. If you wanted to just transform your laptop into your Communication System. That’s exactly what we would do and our goal is ultimately ultimately to help, you know, remember and understand your customers better and what it is exactly that we offer is a voice over IP phone service software bundled together with sales CRM and pipeline management software as well as a help desk ticket management software and we combine that together all so with a customer serving capability and analytics dashboard and tool that kind of gives you this one Consolidated view of your customer all your customer Data customer info history sentiment score as well.

Basically giving you an idea of when they call you can see is this a was the last interaction with this customer positive or negative. What is the overall sort of status of the account? Is it in good health. Is it a bad health and all these sorts of things? That are that are kind of captured with sentiment analysis and Ai and long story short. What we’re looking to do is democratizing innovation.

Usually this type of package would be very very expensive. But you know, we’re starting off at $20 a a seat. So we’re looking to make this kind of Technology available to all sorts of businesses that could benefit from it and we’re looking to disrupt the market in a big way. So that’s nextiva.

That sounds really interesting and it sounds like a very sophisticated software because from what you described what I gather is you’ve got the phone system, but you’ve also got the I don’t know the correct term but the the customer database where you can look in and see the status of an account immediately exactly. Right? And you know, and that’s the funny thing. Most people hear about this for the first time. They’re like, wow, this sounds really complex, but actually, you know, the way that we’ve set it up is almost kind of dummy proof like we’ve went the most basic basic Basic that you can go and everything was really easy to use.

The goal is to be able to get everything set up your number ported everything in under an hour and you should be up and running and fully good to go. What we found is that a lot of businesses had, you know voice over IP software with some other competitor and then they were using something like Salesforce to manage all their contacts and it’s like well, it doesn’t really make sense to have this really expensive separate. That form just to manage your contacts and the only reason they use Salesforce is because that’s the first thing they know and already have heard of, you know just makes so much more sense to consolidate all that into one system. That’s more simple more basic easier to use, you know, if especially if you’re under a hundred employees or even if you’re under like 250 to 500 like it doesn’t really make sense, you know to have all these separate systems.

So consolidation is another big appeal factor that we have hmm. So sophisticated. Find the scenes but really simple for the customer to use. Oh, yeah, that’s that’s the whole name of the game.

You know, we’re trying to make this super easy almost dummy-proof very clean modern style interface Simplicity Simplicity Simplicity. That’s what we’re preaching. So that’s what we hope to do and that’s what customers want exactly. Right exactly.

Right? Yeah. So that’s it. Yeah. Yeah, let’s focus on you a little bit as an individual like what an interesting story you begin a close to the top of your biography.

You read that you’re a lost you were a lost college graduate and you started your life as a producer and a songwriter and you know, that seems so far away from what you’re doing now director of lead generation. I mean, how did you make that Journey tell us what was going on back then and how you you transferred into marketing? Well, you know like you said like you said is so far away what I’m doing now, and you know you like I tell this to everybody, you know, like they say how do you get into this, you know lead generation demand generation, you know profession and the reality is like you can’t go to school and major in this, you know, you can’t you can’t go to business school and say Hey, I want a degree in demand generation, you know, it just doesn’t exist. So you could in theory get a degree in marketing. But what you would probably learn about is a lot of you know, theoretical stuff strategy.

You would learn Basics like I did learn right like I went to school for marketing and I didn’t find it super valuable. In fact, like I would say over 90% of the things that I do on a daily basis are not things that I learned in school. So when I got my undergraduate degree, I graduated during a time where the economy was in a very very dark place. Was during the the depression time in 2009.

So the markets were collapsing and there was really no way that I could get a job like I tried but I just couldn’t because nobody was hiring the market was in turmoil. So what I decided to do was go to graduate school, which in hindsight was a mistake. I think like I didn’t really learn anything new like it was a little bit more Hands-On because it was a technical program. So I learned things like Photoshop and InDesign and all this stuff.

Tough but like these are things I probably could have learned on my own and while I was in graduate school. I was like, you know what I was I was always passionate about music like since I was a kid and I was already kind of just doing this kind of passion project like making beats making videos of myself making beats building a YouTube channel. I was doing cover songs of like, you know popular music that was out on the top 40 charts and I was also blogging I started a website a music website that I just shared my journey things that I was doing right like how was I kind of navigating this new thing that was happening this new kind of do-it-yourself musician thing and you know, I started reviewing music companies that I realized we’re taking advantage of upcoming people. So there’s this one company that was basically charging like five hundred dollars for you to go and perform like one song and they would promise you that, you know, big record executive from Sony Music would Be there watching you and you would have the opportunity to you know, pitch your music to these Executives and you would have a chance to you know, maybe land some kind of deal and none of that was true.

They were purely just doing it to take people’s money. So yeah, so unfortunately, you know, I’m one of the only people that had the you know the guts to write about this. So I wrote a lot of review articles about companies that were doing this and step by step. I was breaking down how they were manipulating people all the way from Like how they were doing like, you know, Miss Miss representative kind of style advertising where they would just basically lie with Facebook ads and I broke everything down and I started ranking Google for you know, Music Company XYZ scam or is Music Company XYZ legit or all these variations of it.

And what I realized was like all these random people that I never met before we’re commenting on my articles and I’m like, how is this happening? How are they even finding it? I’m not promoting it so What’s going on? And I installed like Google search console and Google analytics on my website and I was just poking around trying to figure this out and I’m like, oh man, this is SEO. This is what SEO is like they kind of told me a little bit about this in school, but they didn’t teach me anything about it or how to actually do it. All they told me was you have to you have to be a good blogger. You have to be a good writer ha ha ha and so I was like, okay, I’m on to something here.

I like this because I don’t have to promote it and people are finding it naturally this Cool. So from that point I was like wow like this kind of is clicking to me like this is something I could see myself doing. So I started writing more articles and I started getting better at like how to figure out what keywords to Target and how to build content that’s going to rank in search engines and I started reading like all these SEO books and stuff and like my curiosity with SEO just skyrocketed from that moment on and by the time I finished my graduate degree, I was pitching my my resume and my My and basically my my little story to a bunch of SEO basically SEO agencies in New York because I knew at that point. I wanted to work in SEO and there was one guy who took a chance on me, even though I didn’t have proven experience and he was like, well, if you can present the marketing strategy behind your music career, I’ll give you a shot and he he let me basically pitch my whole thing in front of the company and at the time there was only like three full-time employees because it was really small and that was my His job.

I got hired and I was there for like two years and then I moved on to another software company after that, but that’s basically how I got my start. It’s pretty amazing. So I mean in addition to doing all those things in the right way you would also writing about something that people were looking for so it was like really topical and current that will be an important ingredient. Yeah.

Oh for sure. Yeah and and you know kind of just happened by accident right like I because the reason why I wrote about it is because I almost fell for that scam. Right. Like I saw I saw those ads like I kept seeing them and I’m like what the hell is this about and like me kind of being more, you know Savvy because like that’s the thing about musicians, you know, they’re very googly-eyed.

They’re very easily sort of influence. Right? Like they’re all dying to get their music out there. They’ll do whatever it takes, you know, the lure of having, you know, a powerful and well-connected record, you know record executive from a music company is a very it’s what they all want their it’s like the Holy Grail of what Trying to do and nobody wants to do that do-it-yourself route anymore. It’s very hard mindset to flip For an upcoming musician.

So they see that as a shortcut and you know, there’s a company out there kind of luring them in with this false promise and there’s nobody out there to tell them otherwise, so I was like the only person writing about this and in fact that company had reached out to me and offered a significant amount of money. I’m talking like thousands Mega thousands to take it down and I didn’t do It so yeah, if it wasn’t for that I probably wouldn’t be working in marketing today. So clearly you’d hit a nerve with some some people who were ripping off innocent musicians. I’ll for sure but this this this thing is Mega toxic venom.

Like this is a 5,000 word like article exposing every facet of their operation. It’s it’s crazy. Yeah, but that’s that’s my style. Like when I write about something like I I’m a Go all in or nothing kind of guy.

So everything I write about is pretty lengthy and detailed and step-by-step, but that’s just the way I prefer to be those articles still out there. Someone wanted to search them and find them. Oh, yeah, and they’re still being found today. Okay.

Yeah and how just like, I’m going to digress a little bit before we continue on with the story of your career and where you are today, but I wanted to ask if you felt nervous at all about being so challenging or taking on these like big companies You know kind of like a little bit like I was one I you know, you always wonder in the back of your mind like, you know, what if these people want to come after me and in fact, like, you know, they they tried to send me a fake cease and desist so like they sent me a fake email from like a fake lawyer with like a fake document and it looks legit but then I just started noticing things like typos in it and like I looked up like the law firm that that was stamped. It on it and like it didn’t exist. Like, you know, like they tried to use Scare Tactics to kind of make me remove it at first so then I just kind of realized like, you know, what like I’ve got to just this is a free open. That’s the beauty of the internet now, like it’s a double-edged sword like Pete like just like they’re putting out fake information and fake ads and trying to like really manipulate, you know on the flip side of that.

I’ve got to fight it back with the truth. And you know, if I think of somebody that’s like taking on a giant right now that I really admire it’s like Rand fishkin is Battle to kind of Expose the Monopoly of Google for what it is, you know, he’s really kind of taking this on basically on his own. He’s got support from the marketing community, of course, but like, you know what Google is doing is totally unfair like they are a monopoly they dominate 95% of the search Market they you know, as you know, they they unfairly promote their own products and sites and services. You know, what they’ve done with YouTube, for example, you’re never going to see a wistia or what’s the other? Video platform Vimeo you’re never going to see a wistia or video result in the search engines, right? You’re only going to see YouTube so and it goes much deeper than that.

But like I kind of compare what I was doing to those music sites kind of like what Rand is doing to Google. That’s why I admire it but in short, you know, no fear you just you just got to put it out there and go. Now did this experience where you kind of reacted and you you thought well this this kind of content that I’m reading in this kind of advertising. It’s so unfair.

So misleading did it affect you as a marketer like did it make you think you know when I advertise when I put content out there it’s going to be with Integrity. I’m not going to exaggerate stuff. I’m just going to tell it as it is how exactly right exactly cuz you know one thing about being a marketer. His you don’t believe anything you see anymore, you know, whether it’s TV, whether it’s case that like I believe anything can be faked and it and I you know, I’ve seen it all fake before like, you know, that’s why I personally I won companies try to sell me for example, and they send me case studies.

I don’t believe case studies because I know some marketer, you know hyped it up wrote it. All right, like any marketer any company can write a case study, you know, they might interview a customer and just take that interpretation of the Interview spin it up to be this big glorious thing. And you know, there you go. You have this very inflated kind of document that’s only meant to close the deal.

So I kind of look between the lines if I can. You know, what I’m looking at case studies. I try to find things like screenshots of tweets screenshots of actual reviews that were left on sites like G2 and software advice on cap Tara like what are people really saying so because So skeptical of everything that’s out there. It does.

Keep me in check as a marketer like the stuff that I have to put out there and advertise has to be really legit really authentic. You know, I try to I try to not kind of do the same kind of tactics and strategies that everyone else is doing that’s great. So that would be your advice to people our listeners who are receiving case studies are looking into getting a product or service you what would you say to them when they when they get a case study or whatever to you know? Really make sure it’s legit. Yeah, you know, I just don’t believe I just don’t believe the standard case studies nowadays.

Like when you look at it at most case studies what you will see is kind of a three-part style case study where it’s like what was the problem? What was the solution? How did they overcome that problem? And what was the result and all that was probably written up by some marketer and there’s no kind of third-party validation whether as to whether or not any of that is true. So the First step in that would be actually reaching out to the customer that that that case study is about which is another problem by the way, because a lot of companies they don’t tell you who exactly you know, that case study was about like they’ll tell you maybe like, you know insurance company increases their renewal rate by 400% and you don’t know who what insurance company was it who the insurance company, you know did that did that problem get solved for right? So I just try to get as many concrete details as possible. And if you’re creating be to be case studies go to these review sites take screenshots of what people are saying put it in there go to social media take comments from Facebook and Twitter and even LinkedIn and all this stuff and put it in there like try to validate yourself as much as possible use third-party proof all that sort of stuff to try and legitimize yourself as much as you can rather than just making it seem like, you know, you had some marketer and house writing up a positive story about yourself. Mmm.

That’s It’s really good good advice for people. Let’s go back to your journey. So you got this you got a job after proving yourself as a digital marker kind of by accident. You got your first job in New York.

Yeah and you you were with them for two years. That went well for you. What did you do there? And how did you you end up moving on to next Eva? Oh, man. Yeah, so I would recommend to any marketer starting out their career or early in their career to to go to an agency because you’re gonna get just a fast track to to growth personal and professional growth.

You’re going to have to learn how to deliver. Really challenging work under tight deadlines. So you’re going to learn grit, right you’re going to have kind of a no excuses. No BS mindset when it comes to getting work done on time and being like very productive and intentional with all your time.

So that’s step one. You’re also going to learn very Advanced things because you’re not just sitting around in meetings all day and like in house is kind of slow right like things take a while to progress whereas with an agency, you know. I kind of like churn and burn to an extent, you know, you’re doing maybe a technical SEO audit to maybe a Content audit to maybe a social media strategy to maybe writing advertising copy. You might even be doing link backlink analysis.

These are all the things that I were doing keyword research. I was writing meta tags and meta descriptions and writing landing page headlines and doing landing page test learning about conversion rate optimization, all these sorts of things ever. From creative to Technical and I would have never learned all that in such a short amount of time. If I were working in house somewhere.

I probably would have got thrown into like a marketing Communications specialist type of role and you know, I might have poked around with this poked around with that. But like I feel like I got an agency you’re gonna get just such a wide variety of things and you’re going to learn how to do each of those things really well and that I think is probably the most important the most important thing for any marketer in their career is to at some point get agency experience because if you’re just one of these in-house marketers forever you there’s a good chance that you probably won’t get exposed to as much as you could and you’ll be stopping your growth at some point. I’m not saying that you couldn’t become super successful if you were only in house, but I would recommend agency at some point in your marketing career as a kind of a milestone. I think that’s really really sound advice, you know my experience when you work for an agency.

You have to figure things out. Otherwise, you don’t you just don’t get something done or you start to stagnate whereas in house when you want to do something different occasionally, you’ll find that you’re stepping on someone’s toes. So they’ll be like a kind of subtle blocks in the way exactly right and you know, my boss was Genius of sorts. He was one of these guys that could code every programming language he a master and Technical SEO.

Is an incredible copywriter still to this day. His blog articles are some of the most advanced and amazingly written like academic, you know scholarly level documents on SEO research and Technical marketing. So he was also on the road a lot as a keynote speaker and like you said, you know, I wasn’t able to hit him up and say hey, I’m stuck. Help me figure this out.

He’s like, well, I’m on the road speaking at conferences figure it out or get fired. And that was pretty much it. Yeah, that was pretty much it. So yeah, I did have to figure a lot out on my own and that that is also something that in-house marketers just don’t seem to have as much like that.

There are far more likely to say well, I’m roadblocks and I need my manager to help me rather than Say What You Know third-party resources can I’ve used to figure this out. How can I look up tutorials how to guides manuals existing deliverables that were already done in the past. How can I refer to those? So that’s why I prefer agency experience over someone that doesn’t have agency experience. I wouldn’t necessarily not hire someone that didn’t have agency experience.

But when I see candidates that come in that do have it, I’m much more excited about those candidates. But anyway, so I got tired of the churn and burn, you know, I was doing this for a while and what I ultimately realized was well damn, you know, I don’t know if any of these, you know, these deliverables are getting put into use you buy these clients. Like how long does it take to implement my recommendations? What happened? What was the outcome like a lot of that stuff? You don’t really see because you’ll do a you know, like I’ve done like 60 70 page Word document technical SEO audits for companies and I will give that to them I walk them through all the recommendations with the dev team. I’d give them a prioritized spreadsheet with every issue that needs to get fixed then in what order and how to do it, but you’ll find that, you know, this is not Like the biggest priority for that company and maybe six months go by they still didn’t even look at that thing.

It’s still sitting there. So the reason I wanted to go and house was to actually, you know, have control of the end outcome which agency you don’t really have as much yeah sonic sense, you know, you wanted to steal the boat so to speak. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Right. So I went to this company called Pipedrive sale CRM company and Iran SEO there for about a year and then I just had a bunch of good. Opportunities that are coming my way after that year like I think once you have SEO manager level experience that like a venture back software company, you kind of become highly targeted, you know LinkedIn there’s constantly like, you know recruiters hitting you up like you become more valuable in the marketplace because you’re kind of more proven and I had a great opportunity to come my way to run all of digital marketing at a company called sales hacker. That’s a media and kind of a publication about B2B sales focused on Tech and focused on teaching all types of sales people whether you’re at the beginning of your sales Journey all the way to achieve Revenue officer how to become better at your craft how to get better results Etc Iran marketing there for about two years.

The company got acquired by a bigger company called Outreach Outreach has a sales engagement on automation company based out of Seattle there now considered a unicorn company. You to over a billion dollars I decided I didn’t want to go there. I’ll kind of wanted to get out of that sales Tech space and I started talking with Nextiva and you know, we made it happen and I’ve been rocking with next even now for about a year and a half. That’s awesome.

And yeah 18 months. Okay and tell us in that time. What have you accomplished? And what are you working on at the moment? Yeah. Oh man, there’s so much that I don’t even know where to start I think.

Okay. Well, how will give us some highlights? That’s what would love cool some some of the big highlights. I think we’re kind of fighting against technical debt with the website. There’s just a lot of problems that had to had to be fixed.

I think one of the biggest ones was just like incorrectly set up URL structures for key for key pages and key content we had to do a deep dive audit on the Block. I think more than like 80 to 90% of blog articles got no traffic got no links got no engagement. So essentially just like dead weight on the blog that we had a kill so we manually audited like hundreds of articles on the blog that were just, you know, it’s completely worthless and we either deleted them redirected them to new content or refresh them and got new traffic and you know, basically updated the the stale Content and we did that across all the blog all the landing pages. We redesigned the entire website and blog so visually the user experience was just not great with the entire website and the blog that was just very stale.

We kind of did an audit of like our design style and like what one thing interesting that we did was we removed our logo and we and we removed all our competitor logo. Oohs and just put like the the site’s next to each other side by side and like we noticed like all these websites look the same. So we had to radically kind of redesign our site to look different visually and stand out so we accomplished that as well. And I think one of the final things that we did was we just we got a lot more aggressive with our kind of our thought leadership our social media are PR strategy.

One of the biggest challenges that Nextiva faces is just were We’re not as well known as some of these competitors that were up against so just significantly elevating. Our presence on LinkedIn has been a huge has been a huge kind of kind of milestone for us. We’re continuing to push that obviously and then we’re you know, we’re making a very aggressive push with with our PR our press placements Our Guest posting our our link building as well. So those were probably some of the top Up the top wins that that kind of got done in the last year and a lot of the a lot of the things that you described a quite dry and they’re really kind of methodical projects.

But there’s so important don’t they? I mean if your website isn’t right and the URL structure isn’t right. It’s Cruise so many things up. Yeah, you know exactly right that it wasn’t nothing too fancy. You know what I mean? Like the we didn’t the first thing was not like, you know, uncovering some new.

Roll advertising strategy, right like it’s we’ve obviously made a push for video content as well. We’ve made video kind of a quite a central Focus for us in the recent months. But like a lot of the stuff that we did like you said was the basics, you know blocking and tackling getting the fundamentals, right and and because Nextiva has grown so much in such a short amount of time. It’s just like growing pains that like, no one thinks about that.

They’re like, hey, we just got to get a page up. Let’s just Put it out and what they didn’t realize was. Well should this have gone in the / products subfolder or should this have gone in the / features subfolder? No one took the time to figure that out. So you would have liked things that were supposed to be in products that went into features which is wrong.

So then you have to undo that redirect chain like you have to read redo the URL you have to rewrite the that htaccess file, right like all this stuff update the XML sitemap all these things that people don’t think about About also internal linking was a huge deal. Like we noticed like a lot of our a lot of our best-performing Pages were not internally linked to the way that they should be and we saw that like all the internal link juice was going to like one or two pages and it was too concentrated. So we had a redistribute a lot of that by redoing the navigation. So like what you know, one one thing like always leads to the next like you uncover one problem and you dig deeper into go man, although A sudden I’m in a rabbit hole full of problems and it’s fascinating how they’re all sort of interconnected with each other.

But that’s what makes marketing fun. Mmm. I’ll get the impression that some organizations do struggle with the setup you that you described really early on when you started talking about your highlights and the setup. I’m referring to is that it or whatever you call your team will own the the kind of website structure architecture and you’ve got either Or a public relations or corporate Communications team trying to work with the different department on something that they really value.

You know, when I worked in organizations like that. I found it quite frustrating. What are your thoughts on that? Like who should completely own the website and the internet? Yeah, it’s with us. It’s a kind of a shared shared responsibility and I think all these that’s what makes also marketing so challenging because I think every company structures it differently even demands Generation itself.

I think every company structures differently or thinks about it in a different way. I think demand generation is still one of those cloudy areas where some people say, it’s pure lead. Gen. Some others would might say that it’s every point before the sale.

So you’re influencing every stage of the customer Journey right before they by the way that the way that we kind of do it is we are kind of the nucleus. Of the marketing organization. So we we own all website all content. We kind of run all things technical with kind of a partnership with the marketing Ops team has marketing Ops owns the tech stack.

So any technical kind of tool or software decisions, like let’s say we need to you know, add a new layer to our Tech stack, you know, we have to run that through them and they have to you know, run their process with it, but anything kind of on the Tool Tech stack management side is marketing operations and where you know, we have to partner with them on that and then front end development and design kind of sit in their own category, but they are hugely important to helping us make changes and stuff because we the demand gen seems kind of the strategy and then the design and development is kind of the implementation of that. So we partner quite heavily with them, but the other thing that demand generation Ons and and and our company is the the conversion rate optimization process. So the priorities of testing what we’re going to test why we’re going to test it what are our expected uplifts from this test managing kind of the history and the learnings of all these tests because you’ll find interestingly enough that like a year later you want to run a test that we already ran. So if you want to run it again, you gotta have a different angle to it, right? And also PR and thought leadership and social we own all that as well.

And usually there would be like a marketing Communications Department or a corporate Communications Department that runs that but we decided not to kind of separate that out just because we feel like demand and growth kind of like you should be doing PR with a growth mindset like too many companies are just doing PR for the sake of PR, but with us like there’s usually a specific goal behind it. Like we’re trying to educate a new persona or a new kind of buyer profile that we Kind of get in front of or maybe it’s part of some kind of a BM play or maybe it’s purely for link building. So that’s kind of how we do it. Hmm cool.

So you’ve got a setup that works for you, but kind of on the pr side. Do you have any instances where you have to look at reputation management and let them take the lead and work with your executive team on that? You know, it’s interesting. We have found that the SEO team is the best team to manage reputation and what yeah, exactly. So like for example the keyword Nextiva reviews.

There was a website that was basically unhappy with us because we didn’t want to pay them anymore for for affiliate leads because they’re there are review site / affiliate site that would send leads over to us. Right and what ended up happening with this one particular website was the quality of leads that they were sending us became worse quality over time and what we found eventually was That we had to stop doing business with them because the quality of leads they were sending us. We’re just so bad and the cost of acquiring these leaves were so high that it did the math just didn’t make sense. So we told them look, you know, respectfully, we’re going to have to stop doing business with you.

You know, we’re going to pull out, you know, really sorry about that, you know, if the quality of your leads becomes better in the future and maybe will reconsider, but you know at this point we’re going to just kind of end the working relationship and no hard feelings. So what they did in retaliation was they created Dated kind of this like fake negative review page about us with uh with yeah with reviews that were clearly fake like one star review one star review one star review one star review where the worst we’re horrible. We suck where the worst with the worst. Like you can even tell by the by the narrative style of this writing that it was kind of done, you know, in a made-up way like just certain things were said that clearly couldn’t be true.

Mmm and that and they were trying to rank for the keyword next. Over reviews to kind of you know Screw us over so that when people were searching that they would find the fake negative reviews instead of the real true reviews. So this is why the SEO team is best to handle this because what we ended up doing was building backlinks to the partners who are telling the truth about us so that their review Pages could rank above that bad one. So we ended up pushing that one way.

A Down by helping our allies build links to the positive pages and that’s and that’s that’s a form of reputation management. Right? But unless you unless you know, the SEO team was in charge of that like it would be really hard for like a PR team to figure out how to fix that problem because they don’t know how to build links. So that’s why you know, the reputation management portion is best handled by the SEO team for us. At least.

That’s the way I that’s my view on it. And that’s the way we prefer to run it. Well, What a what a challenging problem a g common sweetheart for you. Yeah, I mean, yeah, I mean in that instance I can totally see why why you would use SEO with with their skills to deal with that kind of reputation problem that that makes complete sense.

So in terms of you your day-to-day work at the moment, are you are your plans for like the next the upcoming years ahead you’ve done a lot of the groundwork for what you’ve described. Described on getting you know, your website sorted out the team structures who owns what who’s responsible for what in terms of your key area of responsibility demand generation. Tell us a little bit more about that and in particular some of the best practices to help some of our listeners. Yeah, for sure.

I think I think if you break it down into smaller more manageable chunks. It’s a lot easier, you know demand is a huge area. And they’re all there’s all these sorts of things happening with demand. There’s there’s the landing page optimization element of it.

There’s like the pr and top funnel brand advertising element of even top of funnel content marketing and social the retargeting all these things video and then when you look, you know further down the funnel a little bit creating things like case studies and sales enablement and working with the SDR team to help. You know, we help them. Em, you know craft a lot of their messaging as well email marketing and nurturing like it’s almost endless. So what you have to do to be successful is really just dedicate your time to one area and not bounce around back and forth all day long between these different things.

Like I try to dedicate a day of the week to each kind of specialization that I have to work on and I try to set specific goals for the week. We run a weekly Sprints of that. I think helps a lot. Well, but I would say if you’re leading a demand generation team.

The most important thing to have is people who specialize in each thing try to avoid generalists if you can so, you know, the SEO team that I have like they love SEO they breathe SEO. That’s all they do is SEO the advertising team, you know, they’re running ads they’re writing ad copy their testing different audiences like they’re on it non-stop. The pr team is just working on pitches right there. Just working on PR they’re not in the million different things, so I’m kind of like the quarterback kind of running plays and managing the field but I have specialist, you know, running each each vertical of marketing that I need them to run and I think that is gonna going to help you, you know move a lot faster than kind of trying to do it on your own or kind of mixing up, you know roles with different Specialties try to keep it specialized as much as possible and you’ll go further and how do you set a timeframe for Measuring results is it monthly you know, for example, if you put a new a new tactic in place or a new technique, how long are you going to let that run before you think? Well, that’s clearly not working.

You know, what kind of measurements you have in place? Yeah. I think it depends on what you’re doing. But you know for SEO for example, it might take six months before you start seeing significant movement for like a really hard keyword. So it depends on what we’re trying to do like we know based on based on a keyword difficulty in metric how long it might take to see a result but for other things like conversion testing or A/B Testing we’ll know once we hit our result after hitting statistical significance, so we have like kind of like an estimated time frame based on how much traffic we know a page might get over the course of Time how many visits we need to hit on each variant before we can say that this test has hit, you know statistical significance and we can validate Lady or conclude a result and then with other things you just don’t know like what the impact is and how to measure it like, you know, for example, we were thinking about you know, advertising with like a sports team like the Phoenix Suns doing ads on the Phoenix Suns arena there would be almost no way to really know what the impact of that is.

Other than just looking at did it does our monthly branded search traffic go up are more people. Searching for the next Eva brand on a month over month basis than they were before. So yeah, we kind of try to tie specific metrics and kpis to each thing depending on what it is we’re doing but in short some things are more measurable than others and we try to stick with things that are more measurable of course, but in some cases you gotta just go with gut and and you know, just just roll with it. So that’s kind of the way I think about it.

And yeah and I suppose the the sports arena example. It’s an illustration of Support isn’t it? And that that is important in terms of generating Goodwill. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely, right? Yeah.

Is there anything else that you’d like to kind of throw in there for our listeners in terms of like best practices or maybe even some of the most surprising things that you’ve learned in your in the 18 months that you’ve been with with Nextiva? Yeah, you know, I would just say got it comes back to two things at the end of the day marketing is judged on sales performance. So I I I you know, I have to get leads in the door and you know marketing just for the sake of marketing is not going to do it. You’ve gotta tie your results back to sales or at least leading indicators that will help sales. So if you’re not getting leads in the door, you should at least be getting email addresses right so that you can nurture it.

So that would be something that is like a step to getting sales. So everything really is about sales at the end of the day. So if you remember that and keep that at the top of your mind, you’ll go a lot farther than most. And I don’t know I guess the other thing is just like it’s blocking and tackling at the end of the day.

It’s really getting the fundamentals right executing better than everyone else. There’s no magical demand gen strategy that’s going to set you apart from everyone else. It’s truly about who is executing better at the end of the day that’s going to go the farthest saw. Those are the top two takeaways right there.

That’s fantastic. Well, I know Gaetano that we’ve agreed that we’re going to do a second podcast interview with you [that we’ll] release next week. To talk about the setup that you have working remotely and managing a team remotely and then particularly some of the content that you produce for the content teams out there in terms of You Know video written content. I don’t know if you’re doing any podcasting but this episode it’s been really great and I’m sure our listeners are going to look at a lot of value out of it.

Thanks so much for joining us. It’s my pleasure and thanks again for having me. It’s been so much fun. Talking about the stuff.

I feel like we could geek out over it for hours. But yeah for now fascinating is that for sure, I guess for now. We’ll call it a day, and we’ll see you on the next episode you better take care. Alright.

Thank you.

You can find Gaetano DiNardi on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Sheelagh Caygill

Sheelagh Caygill is an award-winning writer, journalist, podcaster, and poet based in Toronto, Canada.

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