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Strategy | Will AI Impact SEO, Are Sales and Marketing Converging, The Timeless Principles of Marketing (With John Short)

10 Jun 2024
Strategy | Will AI Impact SEO, Are Sales and Marketing Converging, The Timeless Principles of Marketing (With John Short)

Show Notes

Dave is joined by John Short, Founder & CEO of Compound Growth Marketing. John spent a decade as a B2B SaaS marketer at LogMeIn, Yesware, and Workable before starting his own full-funnel marketing agency in 2018. John is focused on helping companies find the right strategy in order to grow, as opposed to just blindly picking from a menu of marketing tactics. His company helps B2B marketers with everything from infrastructure (marketing ops and analytics) to customer acquisition, funnel optimization, and scaling growth.

They discuss

  • Growth by acquisitions
  • Timeless marketing principles
  • Evolving dynamic between sales and marketing
  • The impact of AI on SEO
  • Building a strong company narrative


  • () - - Intro and disclaimers
  • () - - Seeking Strategic Guidance
  • () - - Embracing Ten X Growth Mindset
  • () - - Overcoming Hurdles in Business
  • () - - Balancing Work and Family Commitments
  • () - - Evolving Search Results and AI Generative Models
  • () - - Understanding Golf Physics and AI Research
  • () - - Search Engine Trust and Accuracy
  • () - - Shifting Landscapes: SEO, Cookies, and Timeless Principles
  • () - - Strategic Approach to Social Media Advertising
  • () - - Predictive User Scores and Behavior Analysis
  • () - - Navigating Growth and Expansion
  • () - - Aligning Sales and Marketing for Success
  • () - - The Power of Company Vision: Lessons from Drift
  • () - - Strategic Alignment

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Dave Gerhardt [00:00:08]:
Good to see you, dude. Hello. First of all, I gotta do a disclaimer. I gotta do a disclaimer. John, somebody was mad that I always have you on and I recommend you. And to that I have to say sorry.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:27]:
It is what it is and I'm not sorry. In this life, in this business, in this world, you make a couple of friends along the way. And I enjoy hanging out with you. And I enjoy, like, we have families, we have shared interests. We happen to be connected in this space of b two B marketing. I like to have you regularly on the podcast. Somebody sent me a message and they said they don't like how anytime somebody is looking for a recommendation for an agency, I always recommend you and compound growth. They were really mad about that.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:57]:
And I'm not laughing to take away from that. I understand that. But I actually, I really don't feel bad about it because, like, you and me go back and I have every right to, like, you're a good person, you do a good job, you do good business. I'm going to keep recommending you and that it is what it is. Like, I can't remember every agency that, you know, under the sun. And it is unfortunate. Not everybody's going to have a fair chance to be, to be recommended. But I like talking to you, John, and you're going to keep coming back on.

Dave Gerhardt [00:01:25]:
And I just want to give that disclaimer. So now if anybody knows, like, be careful. Be careful if you do want to work with compound growth, because I am, I am friends with John and just heads up. But we go, we go back to starting your first business when you didn't even want to build an agency, when you were just going to be solo. John and I saw you at the friendly toast, which we've talked about a bunch of times. So there's the legal disclaimer. That is the, the conflict of interest statement. Now that we've put that out in the open, we can continue on with this.

John Short [00:01:51]:
Yeah. And to that person, I'd say I, I'd love to be friends.

Dave Gerhardt [00:01:57]:
Yeah. Or like, you know, tell me, if you, if you operate a great business, like, feel free to tell me about it. A hard part is just going to be like, I'm not going to be able to keep up with the, with the results. So.

John Short [00:02:06]:
Yeah. You just asked for a lot of Twitter DM's right there. Basically.

Dave Gerhardt [00:02:10]:
Don't dm me on Twitter. You got new CGI, new CGM hats. I like.

John Short [00:02:14]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:02:16]:

John Short [00:02:17]:
We got Carhartt, which was some Carhartt winter hats as well.

Dave Gerhardt [00:02:22]:

John Short [00:02:22]:
Which is an interesting mix of kind of a blue collar brand and a very remote white collar company.

Dave Gerhardt [00:02:31]:
It's like Patrick Cantlay in Dewalt. He has Goldman Sachs and DeWalt as sponsors. And that joke will not land with, you know, one 1000th of this podcast. But that's ok. I'm always just interested. Tell me about your week, what has gone on? What did you do this week at work? I'm interested as a friend. What's your work? What's your week? What's week been like?

John Short [00:02:55]:
I had a couple of lunch meetings. Uh, we just brought on a new head of client services who I'm not kind of talking about publicly yet, but uh, we just brought someone on there, so was spending a lot of time onboarding them. But it's an interesting time in the company. I've talked about it a little bit with people inside the company, but I'm kind of like relearning what my role is in the company because we brought on a chief revenue officer in November and then this client services person. And up until now, that's been a big part of my job. And so now, you know, it gives me time to focus on different things. So it's been an interesting week, a week of self reflection. And I was talking to our mutual friend Chris about, hey, you know, now I got to figure out where my focus goes next.

Dave Gerhardt [00:03:44]:
Yeah, Chris, I talked to him last week. He's great. Chris Litzer. Chris is like a CEO coach now, and he was, he ran a bunch of the business back in the day when I worked at constant contact. I was a very junior marketing person there and just took a liking to him and he took a liking to me. And I got to do skip level meetings with him like once a quarter. And I was always bummed when those got. Remember that? Like when you got to have a meeting with like a big person and like, yeah, they would like reschedule it and you're like, oh, damn.

Dave Gerhardt [00:04:12]:
But like the once a quarter I got to, I got to meet with him. It was, it was really cool. He's up in Vermont a lot now. And I had texted you a couple weeks ago because we're doing a lot of things at exit five. And I felt like we, I felt like I could use some strategic guidance and like, now that we're really doing this thing, like, you know, I value our relationship and I like to text you, but having someone who's seen a bunch of things just, it's lonely, and you get trapped in your own head. And so I called him up, and we just talked. It was like an hour therapy session, and he took great notes, and we had a bunch of good ideas come out of that. But it was much like therapy in that.

Dave Gerhardt [00:04:48]:
Like, there's not a lot that wasn't necessarily new, groundbreaking stuff, but I needed to, like, get it, say it out loud, and then, like, have somebody talk it back to me and understand, and it was. It was really valuable.

John Short [00:04:59]:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it sounds like it's a really interesting time at exit five. And I'm curious, like, more like, what were you trying to. Are you okay to talk about?

Dave Gerhardt [00:05:09]:
I'll talk about anything. Definitely. Yeah.

John Short [00:05:11]:
What were you trying to get out of the conversation with Chris? Like, what? Cause we've texted about it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:05:16]:

John Short [00:05:16]:
And I thought I knew, and I recommended, like, eos, and you're like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

Dave Gerhardt [00:05:20]:
Well, I guess for me, the biggest thing is, um, just trying to think about, like, what is the future of the business look like? And because I I see a very clear path that is just, like, keep doing what we're doing, keep the things, like, have the same structure and just do a little bit more, and it will grow a little bit every year. But that's not what I want to do. That's not that exciting to me. And so I just needed a place to put that. And what he helped me frame is something that I've been actually thinking about a lot, which is. And I have no pro exit. Five isn't going anywhere. The business is doing great.

Dave Gerhardt [00:05:56]:
It's going to continue to grow. We should quite easily double this year, which, I mean, you'd hope to do that. It was just me last year. I brought on two full time people, and, like, yeah, if we didn't double. But it's great. Things are going great. I'm happy. Everything's happy.

Dave Gerhardt [00:06:12]:
We've basically, we've doubled the business, reduced my time in the weeds, scaled and automated all of the systems, which is amazing. I mean, as recently as four or five months ago, I was managing all the podcasts, like, post podcast production, pressing upload on a new episode myself, doing all the social, making sure the newsletter goes out, working with sponsors, building more pipeline, figuring out ways to grow the community, making sure, oh, my God, I haven't logged in the community in two days. Like, I got to go in there and post this stuff. All that stuff is happening, and, you know, we have a team and people, and it's the most amazing feeling, but I just was like, I read this book, ten x is easier than two x. I don't know if you know that.

John Short [00:06:54]:
Yeah, no, I haven't read it, but okay.

Dave Gerhardt [00:06:56]:
Yeah, it could be a blog post. No disrespect. You know, my book founder brand probably could have been a blog post, too. So that's okay. But basically the concept is like, it's much easier. It's easier to grow ten x than it is to grow two x, because two x, you kind of just need to keep doing. Just do a little bit more. And that's exactly where we're at right now.

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:13]:
Like, the way we have, we grew from where we're at last year to where we're at today is a little bit more, a little bit better, a little bit more, a little bit more focus, yada, yada, yada. So we're going to keep doing that. But this is, I see such an opportunity here. Not necessarily, like, with the community business. Like, I don't, I don't see a world where I want to have a 510 thousand plus member community. That's not what I'm after. There's just a lot of. We have strong product market fit.

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:38]:
The things people talk about around exit five, like the demand from sponsors is there, new member growth, the connections and relationships and things people are getting out of the community is there every day. I'm like, man, this is amazing. And people, when they come, like Dan and Matt, who came in the business and saw that, they're like, whoa, this is, this is real. And Dan, Dan said to me, he's like, this thing has the same buzz that we had at the last two companies that we worked together. And like, this is real. This is so real.

John Short [00:08:04]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:08:05]:
And I just keep thinking, okay, so I'm obsessed with this ten X thing. Like, it's easier to grow Ten X because you need to, like, push yourself to not think of the small optimizations you want to think of, like the big. What are the big ideas? Right. And if, even if you don't grow, the goal is not to grow Ten X, right? Let's like, let's say exit five is a $2 million a year business right now. The goal is not to next year go to 20, but if you shoot for Ten X, you're going to miss. And maybe you grow six X. And it's like, so I've really been obsessed on this idea of thinking about, what am I not seeing? What's the real lever and real opportunity here? And that's kind of what I wanted to talk to Chris, about just like, hey, am I thinking about this? Right? I have a couple of ideas about what the next play should be, and really, I'll share it on this podcast. I see exit five today as a product and business that I'll continue to run.

Dave Gerhardt [00:08:55]:
But I think there's a bigger wrapper here that I'm operating, which is more of, like, a holding company, where exit five, as you see it today, is one part of that. But there might be thing two and thing three, and I'm getting much closer to doing that. And, man, I can't believe I'm going to tell you this. I think I really want to build a software product.

John Short [00:09:14]:
Okay. What type of software? Like marketing software?

Dave Gerhardt [00:09:18]:
I have no idea. I don't know yet. Marketing? No. Yeah, marketing. Yep. And I don't know. I'm being vulnerable and telling people this and sharing this publicly, but we will make a million dollars in revenue this year off of talking about other people's products.

John Short [00:09:32]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:09:34]:
We should have our own product, and we should sell that product. Right. And I don't want to do it just to make money. I want to do it because I'm passionate about it. I want to find something really interesting. And so I'm starting to think more like, okay, what are the. What are the spheres? And I wrote this book, founder brand, a couple years ago, and I kind of just forgot about it. Didn't really.

Dave Gerhardt [00:09:52]:
I got busy, did some other stuff. Didn't really care about it. I still see people talking about it, and it just. It was another thing that reminded me, like, man, there's something here I shouldn't be. I don't need to try to, like, monetize a golf podcast and build a mer. Do this thing. I just need to double down on this area. Like, I have this written on a post it note on my desk, which.

John Short [00:10:12]:
Is, rory, come on, the pod.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:14]:
Rory, come on, the pod. Which is unique ability. Like, what is your unique. What's your unique ability? And I think my unique ability is, like, one, the ability to write and communicate and content. That's. That's a thing. But then also what we've built, the audience and reputation and force that we have in this niche of b two B marketing. And so I'm like, yeah, imagine if we built an amazing tool.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:37]:
I don't know what that tool is. Imagine if we built a tool that, like, all of the people that we. That listen to this podcast could. Could use. Like, that's the opportunity. And so I don't know if it's going to happen. But that's the type of stuff that I'm, like, pushing myself to think of. And it's so funny because you and I have had many conversations where, like, two years ago, I was.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:54]:
Man. Like, I was like, screw this. I want to shut it down. No more b two B marketing. I want to go live on a farm.

John Short [00:11:00]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:01]:
But anyway, that's. Sorry to. Sorry to talk for so long that.

John Short [00:11:04]:
How many years into this were you before you started hiring?

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:08]:
Technically, four.

John Short [00:11:10]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:11]:
I started on Patreon in December of 2019. I rebranded it, repackaged it as exit five in April of 22. So two years ago. So it was like, two years into the real business part of it before I decided to hire.

John Short [00:11:28]:
Yeah. I mean, it's funny because I started my thing the same way. It was like, I wanted to get out of the city. I wanted to spend more time with family. I wanted to work on intellectually simulating projects. And then three years in, it was like, okay, it's time to start hiring. And it was a similar kind of inflection point or piece of advice I had gotten. I forget who it was from.

John Short [00:11:52]:
I think it was, like, probably somebody on VC Twitter who is essentially the same thing. It's just as easy to try to ten x as it is to try to maintain the same. And one of the people who's been a close advisor to our company, one of the first things he ever said to me, and I. It kind of fell on dull ears because I wasn't ready to start hiring at that point, was, if you're not growing, you're dying. And I didn't really understand what that was because I think I was probably still in my first year of business. But if you're not growing, you're dying. Like, there's a lot of truth to that saying. It's not completely true.

John Short [00:12:32]:
There are a ton of people who have great careers as consultants or running a lifestyle business that produces enough cash flow for them to live very comfortably. But to me, through my experiences, it's kind of rung true of, you're spending just as much energy trying to just stay afloat as you are trying to grow and become a much bigger company.

Dave Gerhardt [00:12:58]:
So, yeah, and I think I see how it's so easy to just get caught up in the whack a mole of, like, all of those little fires, and you never actually, like, take the next step. And I think hiring was a huge piece in me taking the next step. Also, I was so hesitant to build a real business because my kids are, you know, our kids are similar age. I had the opportunity to, like, work, work from home and be around a lot. And so I was like, I didn't want to, like, sacrifice that life. And I've just realized, like, no, I'm in charge. Like, we can build the business the way that I want, and we can build it around those things, and I can have both. And also, I'm creative and competitive.

Dave Gerhardt [00:13:39]:
Like, I need those. I need those things. I need this. And so I need those pockets of work to give me structure and provide some clarity for, like, oh, I love, like, I can't wait. It's. You and I are recording this at, like, 230 on a Friday. After this podcast, I'm done. I'm shutting this stuff down, and I'm done.

Dave Gerhardt [00:13:56]:
I'm done for the afternoon, and we're gonna go hang out, and my kids will be home, and, like, I can just be home and still be excited about business. I think I was caught up in this binary. I either have to be at a 500 person company, in an office, or doing this, and I think I've gotten a lot of clarity on that. So I don't know for sure if we're going to do that, but that's the stuff that I'm starting to think about, and I don't want people listening to think that that's going to mean not investing in exit five. I don't see exit five going anywhere. In fact, I think exit five is like the moat where the community, the podcast, the content, that's actually the strategic piece of that that needs to keep growing. Right. I just see it as, like, man, so many other startup, like, a new company could come in this space, and they would kill to have the audience that we have and the engagement that we have.

Dave Gerhardt [00:14:45]:
We just got to figure out what the right thing is to do. And turns out, like, we're also pretty good at marketing, and so if we can find the right product, you know, and people have told me not to do this in the past. They're like, you have no idea what you're doing. You don't know how to build a software product. And you're. You're right, I don't. But we have a budget. We have team people.

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:03]:
We have people like, yeah, yeah. I've seen much, much, much worse people find their way.

John Short [00:15:09]:
Have you thought about acquisition, entrepreneurship?

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:12]:
Yes. Yes. So I think it's build or buy. Yeah. Uh huh.

John Short [00:15:15]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:16]:
And you and I should talk a lot about that, but, yeah, it's tough. I see a lot of stuff out there, and I'm like, I just don't know. I don't know how good this is. There's definitely a play, though, and I know how you think. There's definitely a play of, like, buying a business, making it better. That would be very strong out of the gate, for sure.

John Short [00:15:35]:
Yeah, it's scary. I mean, I go on those sites all the time. I think that's, like, the new equivalent of buying a domain, right?

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:42]:
You just.

John Short [00:15:44]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:45]:
There's no domains left.

John Short [00:15:46]:
Yeah, yeah, there are. No, no, but you just go on those sites. You browse, you send it around, and you're like, should we do this? And then you're like, what's gonna happen when I purchase this? Did somebody just, like, copy the front end Ui of some other software, rebrand it, and now they're trying to sell it to me?

Dave Gerhardt [00:16:06]:
I don't like when I don't know about something, which is. I don't know about a lot of things, and, you know, it's like, am I gonna put up $725,000 to, like, buy this thing? And then someone's like, well, actually, if you do this, you can only pay this and you only put this down. I'm like, there's just so much that I don't know. You know what I mean?

John Short [00:16:25]:
My new favorite follow on Instagram, there's a guy who kind of breaks down the business advice he sees.

Dave Gerhardt [00:16:31]:
Let me just write some tweets, and I'll be good. Like, let me write some copy, and I'll be good.

John Short [00:16:36]:
Well, I'm excited. I'm excited.

Dave Gerhardt [00:16:39]:
Well, thanks. So, yeah, so we're thinking about something about that. And when I say we, I think, like, that's. That's also what's cool about bringing, like, dan into the business.

John Short [00:16:46]:
I don't.

Dave Gerhardt [00:16:46]:
I don't see him just as, like, operating in exit five. I think we have the opportunity to build a small team that will work on these things together, and I think that's, like, it's not a team that just works on exit five. Like, I see us building a team of three to five people that work on all of our businesses together.

John Short [00:17:04]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:05]:
You know?

John Short [00:17:06]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:06]:
Also, the more that I see, it's, like, the business you need. The obstacle is the way. Like, I want. I want ultimate freedom. I want more time with my family. Like, this is going to be the way to get. To get that. Okay.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:18]:
I actually did some prep for this conversation today.

John Short [00:17:20]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:21]:
So you said there's a lot going on in the world. I'm happy to talk about all the changes happening in marketing. Google cookies, Google and Bing using AI, the farce of AI generated content. And I'm actually just going to flip over and just going to put you on the hot seat and I have a bunch of questions prepared, so. All right, here we go. I used my assistant, Mrgpt.

John Short [00:17:44]:
Have you tried Gemini yet?

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:46]:
No, what's Gemini?

John Short [00:17:47]:
That's Google's. No, I'm trying.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:50]:
Terrible. I've heard. I've just heard Google's terrible thing is their AI is terrible. Okay, don't sue me.

John Short [00:17:58]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:59]:
Is it good? Is it, is it good?

John Short [00:18:00]:
I can't get access to it. I'm trying to get access. I'm. It's been a two day challenge of me going through it, but I'm interested because if we look at what's happening in the world right now, Google is like, obviously going to, the changes to Google is obviously going to have a big impact on me. And I've started playing around with Google's beta of putting generative.

Dave Gerhardt [00:18:24]:
Before you say that, can you clarify what you mean by that? Google's changes are going to have a big impact.

John Short [00:18:29]:
Yeah, so Google. Sorry, I was getting to that. Google is starting to show more generative AI at the top of the search results, which is pushing a lot of the organic search results down. People are concerned about what impact that's going to have on their business and all the work that they've done from an SEO perspective.

Dave Gerhardt [00:18:48]:
Wait, so, so, so showing more generative AI, meaning like they're just, they're using their AI, just answer questions, right?

John Short [00:18:54]:
Yeah. So it's because some could see it as Google trying to become more of a destination rather than the kind of bowtie model where somebody has come in, they've done a search, and then Google has sent them off another way. Google is looking to provide more of the answers in the search results and the way that Google's search results, generative AI search results look and the way that chat, GPT's generative AI search result looks are very different and a time of change the Internet has, and the products that are built on the Internet have continued to innovate in favor of the user. So when you're looking at any kind of business competition, generally, if you look at what's best for the customer, you can start to predict who is going to win and who is going to lose out when you pay attention to that. And so what I'm trying to understand is why people really like chat, GPT and form my own opinions as people start to adopt Google Gemini and Google generative AI or SGE in the search results. My opinion is that Google is providing a better experience because in chat GPT, you ask it a question, it gives you an answer. I don't know. 70% of the time it's right.

John Short [00:20:17]:
30% of the time it's way wrong, but there's no way to check to understand whether or not it's right or wrong. Whereas Google is surfacing, still citing sources, still linking out to results under the information that they provide so that you can dive in deeper, you can go to a site and fact check some of the information that you're getting. And so I tend to think that over time, like, chat GPT is going to start to evolve their results so that they have more data to back up. And I think we've already seen this. They have some quotations or.

Dave Gerhardt [00:20:56]:
I don't always see them. For some reason, though, somebody showed me that and I'm doing it right now. So I'm just like, what are the most popular rides at Disney? I don't always see the quotations. I was just on 3.5, now I'm on four. And so I'm like, is that true? What is your experience been? You don't do see sources?

John Short [00:21:14]:
I see that. Yeah, I see those sources from time to time. I. They don't, they don't always time to time.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:21]:
From time to time.

John Short [00:21:22]:
Yes. So you're not seeing them right now on four?

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:24]:
No, I just switched. No, I'm not seeing them. And, yeah, this is really interesting. So. And also, like, you run an agency and you do a lot of se, like, you do SEO services, right? And so, like, that whole world is going to change. Yeah, I use chat GPT all the time now. Like, I would say. I don't.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:41]:
I don't know the math, but I would guess that it's eaten into my Google search. Like 20 or 30% of the time. 20 or 30%, no, no doubt.

John Short [00:21:49]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:49]:
Now, not for something like, you know, I guess, like I would define as transactional, like more transactional things. I'm going to go to Google. Like a restaurant.

John Short [00:21:59]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:59]:
Yeah. Looking for a restaurant. I'm going to go to Google.

John Short [00:22:02]:
Oh, okay. Like chat to b, two for a restaurant.

Dave Gerhardt [00:22:05]:
Like, no, no. But, um, chat GBT. Like I will use to answer questions. So give you an example. One of my hobbies is golf. You, you know this, right? But I'm just saying this for people. I'm obsessed with it and I like to ask a lot of questions. Maybe you're curious about fishing or boating or whatever.

Dave Gerhardt [00:22:23]:
Golf. Whatever you do crossfit. So I am learning a lot about the golf swing, right. And there's a difference between the way that you're supposed to hit an iron. On an iron, you're supposed to hit down on the ball, and on a driver, you're supposed to hit up on the ball. I wanted to know why. Why is that? That's the perfect thing to go to chat GBT and ask. And so I said, hey, I'm trying to learn more about the golf swing.

Dave Gerhardt [00:22:47]:
It's common knowledge that with an iron, you want to hit down on the golf ball with the driver, you want to hit up. Why would that. Why is that? Explain that to me in simple terms and explains the physics. So, like, there's. There's a certain type of effect that when you hit down on the ball, you actually, with an iron, the way the club is, you trying to launch it up in the ground and create spin so it goes high, and you're trying to create the force into the ground. First driver you want to hit up. There's a cat in front of the camera versus a driver you want to hit up on the ball and have no spin. And so, like, it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:13]:
I use it to answer questions, not like a who did x? But I ask it to answer questions like that, or I'll ask it, like, why, you know, why did this thing happen? And are there other things. Are there others examples of this in the past? And so it's made. Jesus Christ. It's made me a much better. I live in an animal house. It's insane. Two children, two cats. There's two dogs.

John Short [00:23:35]:
Really breaking the stereotype of Vermont here.

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:39]:
Absolutely not.

John Short [00:23:39]:
Some chickens in the background.

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:41]:
Absolutely not.

John Short [00:23:42]:
You'll just break the stereotype completely.

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:44]:
I keep this spray bottle here just in case anyone tries to get smart. Bop, bop. So I use it for stuff like that. John, that's more thorough stuff because there's so much nonsense that you get from Google. You know, you got. These high authority sites have been ranking forever with listicles and nonsense on the first page. Half of the first page is ads, and then they're starting to show this stuff in search. So I'm using it more for research like that.

Dave Gerhardt [00:24:10]:
But, yeah, that is, they're getting this information from somewhere, and they're not. They're not. So showing me the sources in that. And so it sucks if that's your business, and, like, they're just sucking that information and not giving you any of the traffic. But I could imagine that's not going to last forever. But I totally, I'm not an SEO geek, but I see how, like, wait a second, if these AI tools are answering your questions now, like, what does that mean for search? And search has so long been a humongous channel in marketing. There's something big happening.

John Short [00:24:40]:
Yeah, 100%. And there are a couple of thoughts there. One is, is there going to be regulatory pressure for like, a lot of the content providers went through this kind of situation from 2000 to 2008 as search engines became more popular. And I think they regret their decision of how they handled it. And they probably would have tried to sue the pants off of Google sooner. I don't know. I don't want to, I don't want to discuss that as much because I'm not as much of an expert there, but like, I think that could be a blocker at some point that Google would have an advantage on because it's already citing its sources, it's already sharing where it's getting this information from. I've lost trust with chat GPT because, sorry, a lot of my answers haven't been great.

John Short [00:25:25]:
Like, I asked it, where should I go vote in my town for local elections? And it said many small towns, or it told me to like, go to a. And I asked it specifically for my town, which I'm not going to share here, but it told me to go to the police station and it was just like dead on confident, go to the police station to vote. And it didn't like that.

Dave Gerhardt [00:25:48]:
That's why I said, like, that's a local search result. I wouldn't use it for something like that. Now, if you wanted to understand like the history of voting and why voting, or, you know, why vote, like, like, how long has voting, then that would be a better use for no.

John Short [00:26:03]:
So, I mean, I don't want to go down the rat hole, but for that, from that search and other searches, I'm like, okay, this thing doesn't always know what it's talking about. I'd rather go to Google, go to something else where I can see the source and understand the information and where it's coming from. It's then interesting to kind of bounce ideas off of with chat GPT and kind of get its feedback and have some of the internal dialogues that I have on a day to day basis with chat GPT. But I also think chat TPT will get better at that and I think we'll see a lot of improvement there, maybe with chat GPT five. But if you look at what we're talking about, though, what you're talking about is like a high funnel search, which as a marketer, you would be looking to rank for that, to start to build trust. Yeah, that's with a. With a customer. If you're Dave.

John Short [00:26:54]:
If you were, you know, let's say you're a golf coach and your name was like Dave Jankowski or something like that.

Dave Gerhardt [00:27:00]:
He's a New England PGA teacher of the year. No big deal. Yep.

John Short [00:27:03]:
And he was looking to drive more traffic to our site. Traditionally, he would have provided an answer to that on his site, driven traffic to his site, built trust with you, and ultimately had to become his customer. But if you do a search for the best golf coaches in New England, Jack, GPT's result looks pretty similar to what Google's result looks like. Um, where it's going to list out a couple of the best coaches in the area and it's going to give you the result. I don't know as much about if you search for PGA coaches, but if you look for the best software and why industry on chat GPT, it gives you a list of ten bullets of who the software providers are that you should be looking at and like, that's very similar to SEO as it is today. The ranking factors, I'm sure, are pretty similar because when you go to Google and you go to chat GPT, you see similar results up there. And with chat GBT, like that type of experience, one, I think the ranking factors are similar, but you're also going to be able to start asking it. Okay, that's great.

John Short [00:28:08]:
Thank you for the list. I'm a small business with 30 employees, and we're looking to for integrations with X, Y and Z. It can maybe narrow down the results and start to give you recommendations over time. But the big point that I have right here is upper funnel content is the most impacted right now from searches. That's where most of the searches are getting lost, is people who are looking for information, how to's, that kind of stuff, which were kind of early traffic drivers. But the downfunnel search results in chat GPT and Google are not that different in that you're showing intent, you're in market, and you're. You're actively looking to make a buying decision.

Dave Gerhardt [00:28:53]:
Yeah. What do you think about cookies? What's going on in the world of cookies? AI is a big thing. You told me about cookies. What specifically about them?

John Short [00:29:05]:
Yeah. So we're seeing Google Chrome and many of the other browsers start to block the usage of cookies on the site. So we're moving into a first party data world where the data that you own, building trust with customers, getting them to make themselves known on your site, and being able to build audiences off of that is going to change, I think with all of these things. With Google search, we've seen iterations of the search results changing ever since 2001 when Google started, where local search results have come onto the scene, they've impacted clicks. We've seen them add other features to the search results. And that's kind of an indication of what, what's going to happen when generative search results takes over the top result. With the cookie list world, we've seen indications of that through some of the mobile challenges.

Dave Gerhardt [00:30:01]:
You ever seen that meme when it's like these two, these two guys, and they're like, take the cookie. Do you want the cookie? Take the cookie. And this guy's like shoving this. They do accept the cookies. It's so good. That's what I think about every time.

John Short [00:30:13]:
But, so the iOS change was an indicator of what's going to happen. And I think what we've seen is Facebook has adapted pretty well to continuing to be able to target people pretty efficiently through advertising. Measurements going to get a little bit different, but the companies who are able to build trust and sounds so cliche, but build trust, build a direct connection with the customer, are going to be advantaged over the companies who can.

Dave Gerhardt [00:30:44]:
Yeah, I'm, I'm on this. I'm not even, I'm not in the game as a CMO or anything right now. I just think about my own business and I spend hours, I guess I am in the game. I'm spending right now, I'm sorry. Like four or 5 hours a week recording this podcast, talking to people in marketing. So I'm, I'm sharp. I'm sharp right now. I'm sharp.

Dave Gerhardt [00:31:00]:
And, um, I am more bullish than ever that, like, none of this stuff matters the most. The only thing that matters is understanding the principle, the timeless principles. Like, you could plug me back in right now. I don't know anything about cookies. I don't know that much about AI. Plug me back in and I will do good work because I understand the importance of positioning and messaging, how to craft a narrative, how to, you know, how to find the right customers, how to get people to pay attention. That stuff matters so much. You had a post about this the other day about like, Abn, like this motion or that motion.

Dave Gerhardt [00:31:30]:
Like, yeah, those things matter, but, but they don't matter more than, like, the offer and the positioning and those things are, we're just in the next cycle of this. Like, there were marketers that, like, when HubSpot came out, everybody's like, inbound marketing. There's some marketer was like, nope, doesn't matter. I know the timeless principles, and I guess I'm kind of at that. To channel some t swift. Like, I'm in my timeless principles era right now, and I feel like that is more important than ever to understand those things here.

John Short [00:31:57]:
In your timeless principles era.

Dave Gerhardt [00:31:59]:
Yeah. How's that trade? Trademark. Trademark that?

John Short [00:32:03]:
Yeah. Try trademarking that. See what you can't trade.

Dave Gerhardt [00:32:06]:
Just like, there's no domains, there's no trademarks, anything anymore. Yeah, our forefathers have all the trademarks.

John Short [00:32:12]:
Yeah. So everything's changing, but nothing's changing all at the same time.

Dave Gerhardt [00:32:15]:

John Short [00:32:16]:
Like, I go in these circles all the time. Like, when I think about what's happening with cookies, like, we've had a couple of sites, it's funny, we've worked with a couple of companies based in Germany. They've all had ctos who are, like, incredibly idealistic and followed GDPR past the letter of the law. So they have not allowed us to put any tracking pixels on the site. We've still figured out a way to understand, measure and calculate ROI on our marketing efforts. Even without that, I almost think it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:32:47]:
Would be better if nobody had access to any of those things. Like, so much of the nonsense in arguing about marketing and figuring out what's wrong with that, there was no cookies, there's no pixels, there's nothing. How are you going to find out how people found out? How are you going to know what's working?

John Short [00:33:02]:
It might be the ads you see on Facebook are on, on Facebook and on LinkedIn are bad because people are trying to get you to click and do something versus get you to see the ad, get you to start to understand who the brand is, get to see the representation of the brand. Like, everybody is like trying to ask you out on a date the first time they see you. Like, want a demo? On a demo? Want a demo. And you don't even know who these brands are. And if you can get creative and, like, take a step back and try to understand, okay, what's the impact of this on branded search on direct? When we turn on LinkedIn ads? And what happens when we ramp it up a little bit? And what happens if we're showing more ads in x location or you run different tests to kind? Or what happens when we get feedback from our sales team on how companies heard about us, or we add that to the forum, like, sometimes those methods of measuring are better and it might improve marketing overall from being so direct response driven like we've seen it since 2000, to being a little bit more creative and a little bit more helpful and better user experience.

Dave Gerhardt [00:34:19]:
How do you think about that though? Like that, asking, you know, asking the first date question. Right. Like, because I get why you do it, but it is hard to also like be patient. And it, marketing doesn't work linearly. So it's not like, okay, for, for three months we're going to show this audience this message, which is step one, and then we're going to move them to like, it just kind of is all jumbled. And so I can see why, I understand why we would want to set up a very linear buying process. But how do you, what's the right way to do this? You have different messages for different segments at different places in different times. How do you navigate all that?

John Short [00:34:55]:
I mean, right now? And this is one of the things that I think will change as we look at, I have used like predictive user scores on the site. So if we have an ad or if we drive users in organically from search or from social and we can see, okay, they went in, they navigated across x amount of pages and they spent x amount of time or y amount of time on our site, we can look at that behavior compared to other users who have done similar behavior and understand what percentage of those users ended up coming back and converting with us in the past to predict what the future is looking like. So it's like almost like a qualified visit before a qualified lead comes into place. And so you can get analytical with that data. There are view through conversions that you can use. And then I think Lyft testing is also really interesting if you have enough budget to be able to handle it. But we look at testing that out a number of different ways. I think the ebook was partially a way to meet that customer a little bit early on, earlier on in the buyers journey.

John Short [00:36:09]:
I'm a little surprised we haven't seen more people build free tools over the last couple of years or that like a snap app didn't take off and start making it easier for people to build calculators and those types of things.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:23]:
Do people use those things? That's the move Tom Wentworth loves. Op, love talking about optimizely in there. Like test, you know, web website. Like you can test the thing on your website that still seems like the move. If you have a software product. We had Natalie on from Novotic and she talked about interactive product demos. Yeah that's a perfect example of like something that you like to talk about this kind of mid funnel. Like it's not a demo, it's not a contact sales.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:48]:
We can show you more. They can be interactive and clickable. There's something there that I think is I've been a long been advocate of mainly because you go to a company's website and it's like the only options are get on the email list or contact sales.

John Short [00:37:04]:
Yeah I mean I think those product demos are interesting. It seems like a really interesting space novotic is in and I think it's really important for that kind of as DLG starts to is very popular in the enterprise sometimes. When I was at PLG companies it was challenging to get even enterprise folks to sign up for a demo because they didn't want to share their information, they didn't want to integrate any of their tools into the product. And so getting them to. So I think thats a really interesting space but I think even before that its like you dont want to pitch people on your product, you just want to help them identify the pains that are getting them to your product. Right. So you want to improve your conversion rate. Heres a conversion rate calculator from drift of how chat is going to help you improve the conversion rate on your site or something like that.

John Short [00:38:00]:
Or at workable. We did the job descriptions. We allowed you to upload your job description. Then you posted a job, you already had a job description in place. And for a long time we were building calculators in Excel for people to be able to do what they were doing, but take a template of what they were trying to do, build it in Excel and then drive users into the product that way. And that was really successful. So the next iteration will be.

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:28]:
It's hard when you have multiple motions. Eventually every company wants to scale and you move up market a little bit. And so I think marketing is easiest when it's just like, nope, all we want is this like free. We want to just get people into the free version of the product and then like let the product upgrade them to the next path. But then all of a sudden you're like actually we have this idea for enterprise and this is going really well. So we're going to staple this on and now marketing has to feed this like freemium funnel and okay, now there's five bdrs and there's eight AE's focus on enterprise and they need to be fed. Okay, we got to do that. And then we got this mid market thing.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:04]:
We want to try to go after mid market. And then actually, we really need to work on expansion. And, you know, you had, you write. You wrote something last week about marketing's role evolving over the course of your.

John Short [00:39:16]:
Career, and that was from an exit five post.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:20]:
Yeah, exactly. I know. Exit five, shout out to you. Exit five. Great job. But. But it is interesting. It's like marketing continues to own more.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:28]:
Like, the. The lines of what marketing is continue to blur because marketing's got to work with product and sales and customer success and expansion. This. It's like marketing would be so much easier if, like, the only job was to do positioning and messaging, but then this whole thing would go back and we'd be like, well, marketing doesn't have a seat at the table anymore. It's like the gift and the curse of this thing is that marketing can touch all those things, but it gets hard inside of a company to define, like, what you should go do and go focus.

John Short [00:39:54]:
Yeah. Do you think marketing has slowly been eating sales without, like, if they have, they've been doing. We've been doing the best job at eating sales. Like, sales was meant, like, early on. I mean, if you think about traditional b two B software, marketing was providing materials, like sales enablement materials and helping get booths set up and providing the list. But now, like, so much of the research is done through marketing materials online before someone even talks to a sale, to someone on the marketing team, so much of the decision has already been made before somebody even talks to a sales rep. Now that they're really more closers, not introducing the relationship, building the relationship and closing it anymore.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:41]:
Yeah, I think so. But I think of it as I see marketing and sales as the same. The goal is the same. It just different. And I think when people hear sales, they mean, like, in your example, you mean sales people like a sales team. But ultimately, like, you know, Slack grew through freemium, through a freemium product with neither marketing nor sales. They had a good product. People used it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:41:06]:
They adopted it with inside organization. It grew. They expand. They add on more stuff as you go. I think, yeah, marketing, you know, especially with the rise of content and all of these factors, content, there's more content available. There's more information available. You can try product for free. You can get recommendations and reviews.

Dave Gerhardt [00:41:24]:
Versus, like, 20 years ago, marketing's job was to just get people who are somewhat in the right industry, like, to talk to them and then convince them that their thing is right. That, yeah, that has all gone away. And so I don't see this question as like, are there going to be no more salespeople? No, I think that's a very valuable job and you're going to always need salespeople. But I think that inside of a company, like, if I was a CEO, those two things need to have one shared goal, and there's different ways of achieving that goal. I think where you get in trouble is when you pit them against each other and you're worried so much about this handoff and that handoff and who gets credit for this and who gets credit for that. I think it just reinforces, like, the company go to. Having a clear vision for how the company does go to market is more important than ever because there is so much ambiguity between marketing and sales. And then someone else out there is going to say, well, what about customer experience? Customer experience is so important.

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:20]:
Why is nobody talking about that anymore? It's like, well, that's kind of all part of this customer experience marketing. Or is it sales? It's also a very good tool for sales. It's all ambiguous. The best team, the teams that are going to win, the teams that are doing well are when you have three or four cross functional leaders who just happen to be responsible for that team at the moment. Like a marketing person, a salesperson, a Cs, and they're all working together.

John Short [00:42:43]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:43]:
To serve the business. The business has goals. Okay, cool. This is my unit. We're going to be responsible for this. Yes, this is your unit. We're going to be responsible for this stuff. That's always going to be best.

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:52]:
Back to timeless type of lessons, right.

John Short [00:42:54]:
But also going back to that, like the thing that I come across less and less, like, hardly ever. I can't think of it. I can't think of a time recently where I've come across this is like, it used to be the VP of sales or the CRO. I don't even think CRO is a title. Then SVP of sales used to push marketing around. You'd always be like, oh, don't go to that company like, the head of sales is a jerk. Oh, the head of sales understands marketing. There.

John Short [00:43:25]:
That feels like it was like ten years ago the last time I was really having those conversations all the time with, actually, no, five to seven years ago. But that has just been a constant shift throughout my career where you run into less and less of that. And it's driven by the alignment of marketing, kind of perfecting a little bit what KPI's it's going after, how it reports itself. You don't hear even the salespeople anymore saying, oh, this marketer doesn't. They're not accountable for metrics. Maybe you do, maybe you do. I just don't hear it as much. And I have a lot of conversations on a weekly basis with different people and it's never, oh, is your head of sales a jerk? Or like, are they easy to work with? That's not the conversation anymore.

John Short [00:44:14]:
It's more, you know, we need to drive more pipeline. We need to figure out how to do it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:44:19]:
Yeah. I mean, especially in this, in the sector of tech in the last two years and everybody got their budget cut and demand for nice to have products shrunk. I think the more that I've seen, it's actually sales and marketing don't matter at all.

John Short [00:44:34]:
Products eating, sales and marketing.

Dave Gerhardt [00:44:36]:
Yeah, no doubt, no doubt. And now, now marketing has to be involved in this. But like, if I just use an example that I'm familiar with, which is drift, right. And I'm sorry that I always talk about it, but all we can do is like, it's like I talk about my kids all the time, right? That moment, like the three or four years like that I was there, that the company was really growing really fast. We did great. We had a great sales team. Yes. We had a great marketing team.

Dave Gerhardt [00:44:58]:
Yes. It wasn't a specific tactic, though. That was why. It wasn't because this handoff and this worked or we started blogging or this. It was because we had an amazing, the founders, David Elias, had an amazing vision. They had a deep understanding of the market. They had a strong vision for what to build. The narrative matched.

Dave Gerhardt [00:45:17]:
We got to go and execute on that. That is the 80 20 in all of this stuff. And I look at, I've advised companies in this space, been around companies in this space. I see it all the time in questions from exit five. It's almost never a marketing tactic or sales tactic or those things happen. That's a symptom. Right.

John Short [00:45:34]:
But the root causes marketing and sales at drift out punted the coverage of the product. I think the marketing and sales, and I was on the outside, so I.

Dave Gerhardt [00:45:44]:
Don'T know, everything maybe functionality wise at the time. Sure.

John Short [00:45:48]:
Marketing and sales team did a better job of promoting, growing drift like it was chat on a website. It wasn't like, you watch your mouth.

Dave Gerhardt [00:45:59]:
You watch your mouth. Yeah, no, no, it's fine. My NDA, everything's exploded. Everything's. We're good. But no, no, what you're saying. You're making my point, though. You're making my point in that the reason the sales and marketing were good, though, is because the narrative, the strategy of the company was so good.

Dave Gerhardt [00:46:19]:
Yes, it was. Maybe it was just chat, but nobody was. It was the realization that nobody was talking about this from a sales perspective. And we're all using messaging in our personal lives. And why does b two b buying happen so slowly? Oh, my gosh. These. We can combine this into a really powerful story to tell the reason about why drift exists and why you need this product and why now.

John Short [00:46:40]:
But that sales positioning.

Dave Gerhardt [00:46:43]:
It is. It is, but it's nothing without the. That. It is but the company existence.

John Short [00:46:48]:
But you're saying the product is eating marketing and sales.

Dave Gerhardt [00:46:51]:
No, sorry. I mean, the thing that you need to go and build. Right. The narrative is like, because ultimately the point of the business is to have a product. You can't just have good marketing and good sales. You have to actually. Oh, we delivered on this thing for. So I don't mean, like, the actual, like, coding of the product.

Dave Gerhardt [00:47:09]:
And like is. It's, it's the, the positioning of the company, the product offering that we're going to create. And that doesn't just come from a product team meeting. That's not marketing. That. A strategic level. Like, you know, same way I want to have a strong conviction about what, like, I meant to, I want to build or buy a software product. Like, I want to have a strong conviction about why that product and the need for that and why it's the right fit for, for this audience.

Dave Gerhardt [00:47:35]:
Like, those things are going to matter more than, like, the, the funnel that we have and the handoff between this and that. That's the 80 20, I think.

John Short [00:47:43]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:47:44]:
Like, you know, it's, it's why somebody like April Dunford.

John Short [00:47:48]:
Okay. I mean, when I think of product leading, I think more of like a slack or a Dropbox or something like that, where it was like, this amazing product. People are sharing it all the time. It kind of drove its own growth. But I get that the narrative is really critical. And I think drift was incredible. Like, even your company meetings were unbelievably orchestrated to get everybody on the same page from sales to product to marketing, and everybody was talking about it the right ways. It was like, you guys handed out talking points every time somebody got off the elevator into the office.

John Short [00:48:23]:
And I think you all leveraged the network that you had built up from each individual employee across social and even, I'm sure when people were at dinner parties, they were really excited to talk about drift and what you were working on, and that was incredible.

Dave Gerhardt [00:48:42]:
That comes back to the thing that we're creating. If we're like. And we're coming up with a new way to water your lawn, you know, you're like, okay. Like, it just happened to work with that. All of the ingredients lined up, and I just think this goes. Marketing has to be. It's only going to work if it's strategically involved in the business. And so many of the anonymous questions that we see in exit five, I'm like, all of the hard ones are like, well, the CEO.

Dave Gerhardt [00:49:09]:
Like, we haven't had a meeting with the CEO in three months. Sales team doesn't talk to us like we're just. We're on an island. We have no clear metrics, no clear goals. Like, when everything is aligned from the beginning, when you have clear, you know, ownership and responsibility, that's where you're going to be successful, you know, cookies or not. Right?

John Short [00:49:27]:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dave Gerhardt [00:49:29]:
All right, we got to wrap up. John, thanks for hanging. Good to see you, my friend.

John Short [00:49:32]:
Yeah, good to see you.

Dave Gerhardt [00:49:33]:
Thanks for the disclaimer in the beginning. Yes, we are friends. It will continue to be friends. Let's play golf. Yeah, I'd love to. I, you know, I think. I don't think I made it down there last summer, but I'm gonna. I'm gonna try to make it your way.

John Short [00:49:46]:
It's like, come up to you.

Dave Gerhardt [00:49:48]:
Come up to me? Yes. That's. Now you're talking. Come up to me or meet in the middle? Meet in the middle. The only reason I said that is, you know, it's.

John Short [00:49:55]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:49:55]:
I'm way up in Vermont. It's like, you get another month. It's an hour. If I go. If I go 4 hours south, like, you're got golf, and you got to have something opening as soon.

John Short [00:50:03]:
All right.

Dave Gerhardt [00:50:03]:

John Short [00:50:03]:
Hey, Dave, thanks for having me on.

Dave Gerhardt [00:50:05]:
Let's play some golf. See ya, bud. All right, thank you. Go see gm. Good luck. See you later. Exit.
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