Goldenhour Live Broadcast 13 min

Goldenhour Live: Dave Gerhardt


Owned media is all about deepening relationships with your audience and a huge part of that is building community. In this session, Dave Gerhardt talks about how he built Exit Five, one of the most successful communities in B2B.



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He's an OG when it comes to modern B2B content creation and is the founder of

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one of the most successful communities in B2B.

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The former CMO at Drift and Privy, please join me in welcoming the one and only

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Dave Gerhart.

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What's up everybody, thank you for having me.

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How are you?

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I'm sitting next to the worst marker in the world.

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This is being live streamed to my LinkedIn.

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What could possibly go wrong?

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It's gonna be iconic.

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It'll be great.

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Polar opposites.

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My name is Paying Poises, I'm going right now.

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It's all good.

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So Dave, community is a huge part of building an own media strategy and you've

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done this better than anyone.

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Right, so how can SaaS companies leverage communities in 2024?

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Well, I think so what I've done is build, I think there's a difference between

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building A community and building community.

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And I think a lot of people get that definition mixed up or they think like, I

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'm at a company and that means we need to build a private slack group or we need

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to like,

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X to five we use a product called Circle, I need to have it on Circle.

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I think what most companies that focus on more is building A community as

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opposed to like, or building community as opposed to having somebody behind the

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paywall or a closed door.

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And so community really is just a group of like-minded people, people with

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shared interests.

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And we talked about this a lot earlier, I was on with Alex and Devin and we

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talked about in B2B,

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you are trying to help someone most of the time do their job better.

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And so that could be HR, finance, sales, marketing.

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In my case, it's been B2B marketing, right?

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So the opportunity is to not really, I think too many companies focus on the

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product and service that they offer as opposed to focusing on their persona

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that they're trying to sell to.

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Take the selling completely out of it and say like, okay, this is Brianna, here

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's what she does.

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She works in finance.

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She cares about these three things.

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We want to become the go-to resource for her.

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And then that can play out on different channels.

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It could be LinkedIn, it could be YouTube, it could be a community, it could be

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a newsletter, it could be a blog.

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There are lots of ways to do it, but I think it's about rallying around that

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shared interest and trying to become the go-to resource for your ideal customer

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before they're ready to buy.

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The trick is the way to do it is to not ever talk about your product, not sell

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your product.

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You have to do it with the genuine interest of like, how do I help this

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customer?

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I love this mission of owned media.

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I think it's more important than ever to own your audience.

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I think community fits right in there.

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So where does the paywall come in?

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For companies that are looking to monetize it as well?

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Well, I think the paywall can be different things.

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It could mean like, if you sell a product or service, I don't sell a product or

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service, we have a community.

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The product is a paid community.

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In our case, you're going to pay to get access to the community.

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But if I was doing this at a software company, for example, it could just mean

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that the product is a paid community. It could just mean there's a login page.

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It's just content that's not accessible for everybody.

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We're building a community of 100 finance pros in this particular niche.

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I don't think it has to be a part of it.

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But I also think you can build community across multiple channels.

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A company that I think is doing a really good job with this today is Apollo.

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I don't know if you've seen them here today.

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They had the paparazzi boys or something like that.

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It's like some crazy TikTok account. They're chasing everybody around filming

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videos.

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But they've done a great job building community.

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And the way they've done that has been through LinkedIn.

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Or Gong is a good example of a couple years ago.

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They really own LinkedIn focusing on sales.

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People are on LinkedIn.

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Let's become the go-to resource for them.

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Where do they hang out that's on LinkedIn?

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That's where we're going to have our content.

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Awesome.

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Dave, I got a question for you.

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Community is very close to my heart.

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And Exit 5 just turned two recently.

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So I got to know, what is your biggest learning two years into doing this?

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My biggest learning is just the power of focus.

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You have to focus.

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I have multiple times in my career.

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And again, in building Exit 5, I think with content and own media and trying to

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build an audience.

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It's very easy to, we're going to do a little bit of TikTok.

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We're going to do a little bit of YouTube.

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We're going to do a little bit of email.

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We're going to do a little bit of LinkedIn.

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And every time I've done that, and I see lots of companies in this space do it,

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it's like

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post a video on YouTube.

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That YouTube video has 17 views.

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And you're like, why is this not working?

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What we've done is, and look, I've wasted a bunch of my own money doing this.

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I'm going to hire this agency for three months.

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We're going to make a bunch of TikTok videos.

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And I'm not committed to that strategy.

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And it goes nowhere.

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In the next set, I'm in, LinkedIn is the most important channel.

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I need to remind myself to just keep doubling down on that channel until it

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doesn't work anymore.

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And so it's really focusing on, like, we're focusing on LinkedIn and our

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newsletter as an

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example.

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When you try to be in too many places at once and you split that, I don't think

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that's where you're going to be successful.

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I like focusing on one or two channels from an audience building standpoint.

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Absolutely.

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I do just want to repeat the line that you said to me off the record before,

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because I thought it was a great joke, and I just want people to know.

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Todd said to me, I'm from Pittsburgh, so I'm Mr. Rogers up top, and I'm

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Brooklyn on the bottom.

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Thank you, sir.

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I love that.

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We had to put that on the record.

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They are some very flashy dunks on my say-tong.

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That's a pretty iconic one thing.

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I think a lot of brand marketers are finding is that to stand out, you have to

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have some

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level of personality.

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Like the brand has to have a voice of something that's different from everyone

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else.

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You gave a couple of good examples earlier.

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How can marketers start thinking about how they can do that to stand out

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competitively?

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Isn't your LinkedIn picture upside down?

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No, I think that was Chelsea Castle's.

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I see the purple background.

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I see the purple and I'm like, "Are you getting confused with Will Ora?"

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No, do that hurt.

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No, it's time to get tagged in Will Ora.

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Now, he's the email guy out of stand out.

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I'm the guy who makes fun of marketers and gets put on a marketing panel.

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That's what you get.

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I'm feeling snanger towards me today at this event.

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I don't know why.

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I think it's when I said that.

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Now I didn't help your clients.

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Yeah, no.

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Will Aiken, alright, it's confusing.

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So my question, how can marketers get that personality in the context?

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We know how we yield show up, right?

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I know your personality from your concept.

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Well, I think there's like, you can have your individual personality, but I

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think it comes down to having the brand.

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Like the brand has to have a clear point of view and the brand can have a

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personality.

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I think what people do is they try to over index on like being funny or trying

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to make

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cute content, but if that doesn't match to the overall company strategy, it's

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not going to land.

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So I'd rather see the company strategy have a clear point of view and have a

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personality than just like,

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everybody loves memes.

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I love memes too, right?

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Like memes can work, but that can't be your only social media strategy.

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Like, you have to fit in with what the brand's doing.

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So more than trying to inject personality and try to be witty and try to be

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funny,

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I'd rather see somebody try to be like the go-to resource for somebody and how

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you deliver that the way you write.

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I do know who you are and I have seen your writing.

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Like you inject personality in the way that you write and so you deliver on the

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content and the way that each one of us is going to write might be a little bit

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different, but we're all like aligned to achieving the same brand mission.

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I think it comes back to like that.

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That is the most important marketing strategy overall is let's get aligned on

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what we're doing.

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Like, I think what AK and JK and the team here and now Todd, like the team at

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Audience Plus is doing and really owning this idea of owned media.

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I think that goes further than like, and we're really funny.

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Like, I don't think you need to be that.

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I think you have to have a clear point of view.

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Like, we believe owned media is the way.

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Here's how to do it and then within that framework you inject your personality

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into that.

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Yeah.

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Are there any pitfalls you'd recommend marketers avoid while they're trying to

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figure out that personality and inject it in?

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I think you, I think there's lots of pitfalls, but I think it has to be, you

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have to be really close to the customer in the audience.

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That's what I think is so amazing about social media and content.

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I think we're lucky to be around this event with a lot of marketers who get

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social media and get content.

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The challenge is, I think you have to, you have to land with the audience.

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And that's what social media is great for is that really quick feedback loop.

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Like, I can post something on LinkedIn and really quickly.

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Like, a couple years ago I wrote this for a line, like, life is too short to

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work with first CEO who doesn't get marketing.

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I didn't sit in some room and plan out that line.

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I just like, you know, probably was just out for a walk and I just thought it

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because I was frustrated about something that day and I wrote it.

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And that post blew up.

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That's a signal for me that, oh, okay, the audience is interested in this topic

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Let's go create more content around that.

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Now let's double that.

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I think social media gives you that feedback loop.

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And so there are lots of pitfalls to avoid.

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But I think that you have to, you have to be out there publishing regularly to

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get that feedback loop going.

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I talked to CEOs, founders who want to be involved in content, but they might

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want to, like, write on LinkedIn once a week.

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You're just not going to get the feedback loop going quick enough to make

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meaningful progress there.

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And so a pitfall would be, like, put the imposter syndrome aside.

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Like, you've just got to start creating content and figuring out what works.

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And so you can have a bunch of ideas to whittle it down to find your one or two

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lanes.

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Like, you know, I'm sure maybe right out of the gate, Anthony, wasn't super

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clear on, like, calling it owned media.

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But after being out there talking to companies, talking to customers, writing

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about it online, you're like, oh, yeah, maybe this is the niche that we're

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going to go after. And that's how we get there.

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Such an advantage.

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You don't have to spend a dollar to do it.

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That's why I love this idea of audience building.

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Love it.

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I think you said something really interesting there about, like, whittling it

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down into, like, the main things that you want to say and then just figuring

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out how to repeat that versus a lot of people when they create content, it's

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like, all right, I either have to hop on every latest

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trend that there is or I'll say something once, but, like, I got to, I got to

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figure out something new to say the next day.

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Yeah, I think you need to have, like, two or three, and I don't know if the

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number is two or three or six.

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And so don't take it literally.

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It's like somebody says the best time of day a post on LinkedIn is one o'clock

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and then everyone does that.

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But I think it's picking, like, two or three storylines and having those things

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that you repeat over and over and over again.

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And so if I was out there trying to build this brand around own media, I don't

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want to have a hundred different ways to, I don't want to say that a hundred

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different ways.

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I want to have two or three kind of tracks that we're talking about over and

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over and over.

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And within there, you can mix in your personality and be personable, relatable,

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et cetera.

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That's awesome.

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Yeah, for sure.

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Any final thoughts, advice for marketers that are trying to build this brand

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personality for themselves?

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Yeah, it takes time.

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It takes time.

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And I think a lot of us, you're still figuring out, you're still figuring out

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the lane to operate in.

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I also think that it evolves over time.

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It's not just one narrative, one voice forever.

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I think it's a constant work in progress.

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I think you've got to be curious and see what other companies are doing.

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I'm obsessed with watching what other people are writing, how other people are

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talking about it.

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And I think that the greatest resource a marker has is to think of everything

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as a swipe file.

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I see all these ideas and examples.

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And so when I'm going to go right, I have plenty of ideas.

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Like, oh man, I saw this thing that Todd wrote the other day.

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That was really interesting.

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He's talking about it this way.

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We're actually doing it this way, but I saw the reaction in his post.

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The best marketers I know are curious like that and always have an idea about

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what other people are saying and doing

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and figuring out how you can apply to that.

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I also do think some of it is a volume game.

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Not just like just get out there and just spray and pray nonsense everywhere,

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but you do have to have a number of reps and posts over and over and over

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to figure out what works.

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It's like writing a good subject line or a good headline for an article or

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something.

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Like, if you think you're just going to sit there and write the very first

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headline that comes out of your fingers

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is just going to be fire.

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That's not going to happen.

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You might have to write 10.

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We were just trying to come up with a name for our event.

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We're doing an event in September of Brexit Five.

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We must have written 20 names out in Slack and we were like,

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"Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.

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That's the one.

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Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, sleep on it.

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That's the one, right?

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I think you have to be willing to go through that process and just like give it

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time,

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let things marinate, sleep on it.

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Be willing to throw out 30 bad ideas to get the one good idea.

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That's where you'll make a lot of progress.

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So you can tell us, is the event name going to be Maple Syrup?

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Rihanna has inside information.

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She has inside information from dinner last night.

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It's not going to be called Maple Syrup, but there might be Maple Syrup for the

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event. I told the story about how my wife and I were dating.

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I thought she was nuts because we would go on a date to breakfast and she would

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pull out

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her own Maple Syrup in her purse.

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Somebody asked me, "Is it true that you can't have the real Maple Syrup?

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You can't have the fake stuff."

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I always thought that was a bunch of nonsense.

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Now that I'm up there, I can confirm that it's true.

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We will have Maple Syrup.

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It's factored into the ticket price.

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So come, it'll be there.

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I can tell the event is going to be called Drive.

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That's the event that we came up with.

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Drive from Exit 5.

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It's going to be September 11th.

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Drive yet.

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Drive yet.

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No big deal.

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We do marketing here.

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We do.

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We dabble.

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So it's in September 11th and 12th in Burlington, Vermont.

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Being at this event, I'm like, "Let's have our event now.

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I'm fired up."

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Can't wait.

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It's going to be epic.

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Well, thank you so much.

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Dave, it was great chatting with you.

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Yeah, thanks for having me.

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Awesome.

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Good to see you all.

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Thank you.

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Thank you very much.

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Handshakes all around.

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I'll see you all later.

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The Maple Syrup is not Maple Syrup.

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It's good to make sure that the time it was Canada like that.

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I like that.

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It's called Table Syrup.

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That's what they call it.

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Yeah.

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Maple Flavored Syrup is their one.

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Table Syrup.

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I love that.

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Love that.

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Alright.

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