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Customer research driving sales with Ryan Paul Gibson at Content Lift

Ryan Paul Gibson is the founder of content lift. Ryan explains how customer research can drive sales, how to make the case for marketing budget, and how to do customer research interviews that don't suck.

Show Description

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Show Notes

Ryan Paul Gibson is the founder of content lift. Ryan explains how customer research can drive sales, how to make the case for marketing budget, and how to do customer research interviews that don't suck.

He has worn business development hats, works alongside demand gen marketers, and really understands what it's like for organizations that are navigating uncertain times right now.

Ryan also contextualizes this type of work and shares examples like The Mom Test by entrepreneur and writer Rob Fitzpatrick.

Find Ryan Paul Gibson on LinkedIn:


[00:00:00] Intro

[00:00:00] Harris Kenny: Welcome to Pipeline Meeting where marketers come to talk about sales. I'm your host Harris, Kenny, and I'll be joined by guest every Monday and Wednesday for brief 15 minute interviews where we'll share tips that you can apply to support your sales team and help them close more deals.

[00:00:15] Harris Kenny: You don't have time to listen to this whole episode, you can skip ahead in the show notes in your podcast player, or find the transcript at All the episodes are published there.

[00:00:28] De-risking marketing

[00:00:28] Ryan Paul Gibson: How are you de-risking the choices you're gonna make in marketing?

[00:00:31] Ryan Paul Gibson: You might have seen me write about that too, because there's only so much money. in the bucket, and if you sat at a leadership table, you know the money is divided between you and every other discipline in the company. It's not just marketing. You are debating about the business decision to invest more marketing over a product.

[00:00:49] Ryan Paul Gibson: Customer success, sales, whatever. So why you?

[00:00:54] Ryan Paul Gibson: I think one of the challenges I've seen, it sort of speaks to like the mom test or jobs be done or, you know, lean canvas model is a lot of it is very dense and can take a lot of time, and I don't think research has to take that much time.

[00:01:12] Ryan Paul Gibson: I think you can actually get really good insights quickly and turn things around.

[00:01:16] Ryan Paul Gibson: It's just a matter of how, like what questions you ask and how you distill the data so you know what's realistic for a business, right? Because most can't wait four months for a giant thing like be built.

[00:01:27] Arguing for your budget

[00:01:27] Harris Kenny: Yeah. Let's start with that marketing versus other priorities for the company. what do you think marketers who are really effective at making that case, how do they do that? Do you think it's speaking in expertise where they're wowing people of like, look at everything I know about marketing, you know, trust me.

[00:01:45] Harris Kenny: Or is it trying to anchor in the, what the other people in the company are thinking about and weighing and sort of being empathetic towards what their concerns would be.

[00:01:54] Harris Kenny: How do you think a marketer could be really effective in making that case internally for why they deserve budget?

[00:01:58] Ryan Paul Gibson: I think one of the things we forget is that we always, we think the person across from us understands our discipline just as much as we do.

[00:02:08] Ryan Paul Gibson: So showing people a list of marketing tactics in a quarterly business review or your weekly syncs or whatever type of ongoing communication you have to show what you're doing. If you just show like a whole host of things look at all the stuff we did, people won't get it.

[00:02:25] Ryan Paul Gibson: The analogy I sometimes give is a developer would never just show you their code base and say, look at this. and then isn't that great?

[00:02:34] Ryan Paul Gibson: You would have no clue if you don't understand software engineering like what they're doing and you shouldn't be expected to if you're not.

[00:02:41] Ryan Paul Gibson: I think for every other discipline in a business, you have to have the same mentality. So yes, you need to show what you're doing and connect the dots, but not like a laundry list of items that have no bearing on other things a company needs to talk about.

[00:02:56] Ryan Paul Gibson: You have to tell the story and the internal story of like, we are doing this because the market has shown us this and we think this is the best chance of achieving this, which is why we're investing in this and we're gonna monitor and measure and see what happens over time.

[00:03:12] Aligning with sales

[00:03:12] Harris Kenny: You mentioned internally making the case as well, not just to maybe executives, but to the team, let's go to the sales team, classic tension or misalignment between sales and marketing.

[00:03:24] Harris Kenny: In your experience supporting sales folks, what's the way that you've found translating marketing goals to sales goals in a way where they feel like, wow, we're really being supported here.

[00:03:34] Harris Kenny: This is exciting. Can't wait to see how this campaign goes. We can't wait to see what marketing does when they roll this out versus, you know, the sort of apathetic, wow, we'll see what happens, kind of thing.

[00:03:46] Ryan Paul Gibson: I can only speak from my experience, right? A table stakes is that you need to get people in front of the sales team that they can close. That's the baseline. When I was in marketing and I, I had the benefit cause I started from like a business development sales background and moved into marketing when I first started my career. So I understood the sales process.

[00:04:09] Ryan Paul Gibson: The first thing I did within that, you know that in the first 90 days, or people talk about that all the time, talking to the sales team about like, okay, walk me through your day. Walk me through an average deal. Where are you getting stuck? What are you hearing?

[00:04:24] Ryan Paul Gibson: Before I even launched anything, I would go across the hall, talk to director of sales or just get in, go into like where the sales team's sitting and start talking to them. How's the day going? Hey, I'm thinking of this. What are you, what are your thoughts around that? And just showing them that I'm, I'm doing a lot of heavy lifting to understand everything about the person we're trying to sell to.

[00:04:49] Ryan Paul Gibson: Most marketers have ever sold anything, and I think they have a really vast under-appreciation for how hard it is. And then vice versa, sales thinks it's sometimes arts and crafts, right? And they don't often understand the nuances that go with trying to influence a market before someone's ready to buy.

[00:05:07] Ryan Paul Gibson: There's give and take there. A lot of what instigates me for doing research is actually when the sales team starts coming back and saying Something's off and we probably should learn a little more.

[00:05:18] Customer research

[00:05:18] Harris Kenny: I feel like we've covered the org, but really what you'd spend a lot of time thinking about is customer interviews and customer research. We've made the case for the executive team. We've made the case for the salespeople about why we are doing what we're doing.

[00:05:31] Harris Kenny: Tell me a little bit about content Lift and how you help people do customer research interviews that don't suck. What does that mean, to do that or to not do that? I guess.

[00:05:42] Ryan Paul Gibson: Yeah. Well, the reason I say that there's a few reason, there's a bit of a history there.

[00:05:47] Ryan Paul Gibson: I have always approached research as a pillar of how I design a go-to-market strategy. When I started, I just touched on it earlier. You know, I was an operations, business development salesperson, but I had to wear the marketing hat cuz we were a very lean organization.

[00:06:03] Ryan Paul Gibson: This is back, you know, early two thousands. I didn't have the budget for research external to. So I had to go and do it myself, and I would go and talk to people why they're doing the things they're doing. And I just carried that on.

[00:06:17] Ryan Paul Gibson: And then when I started working with more SaaS companies and you know, eight years ago, we often even just call them tech companies. But now it's, SaaS is sort of like the dominant business model in the landscape.

[00:06:29] Ryan Paul Gibson: I would talk to founders or heads of marketing and sometimes product people about, . Okay, before we get started, let's talk about what your customers are saying. And most of the time, especially if it was a technical team that founded the company, they're like, oh no, we don't really talk to them.

[00:06:45] Ryan Paul Gibson: And I was just floored cuz I thought that was the norm. But as you, I've slowly progressed, it's not, and there's a lot of reasons for that. When I did my own due diligence around Content Lift, I went and talked about 20. Marketing leads at various like seniority levels and said, how are you using customer interviews?

[00:07:06] Ryan Paul Gibson: Qualitative research is what they historically call it. Surveys would be like quantitative, right? Or like your dashboards. And they said, well, we don't do it at all. or we do it and we're really bad at, and these are all the reasons why. And there's, I have it on my LinkedIn profile, all the things people have said to me or the third question, oh no, we're good there, which is a great answer.

[00:07:28] Ryan Paul Gibson: I felt, okay, there's probably an opportunity for me to help. So there's all these reasons why they can suck, but the really reason is either they don't do them or. They don't do them well. Um, and we could get into that, but those are like the reasons why I call it that. So now content left is really about helping marketing teams for marketing research to build a go to market strategy.

[00:07:48] Ryan Paul Gibson: You know, but all the ways they can, all the things they can do to sort of influence how and why people buy.

[00:07:53] Ryan Paul Gibson: One of the things I often heard was, we've done it, but we didn't know how to use the data. And you hear that when people talk about building personas, they'll build a persona, it'll sit in a digital shelf, they never use it, or the data is just sort of what we looked at as historically things that the advertising world would use, which is demographics and firmographics, which is fine, but that doesn't really tell you how and why people would buy a B2B product.

[00:08:18] Ryan Paul Gibson: And what is the evaluation criteria they go through to decide on those products, which is things you need to know for marketing and sales.

[00:08:26] Harris Kenny: What's the alternative? What is Ryan's perspective, content lift's perspective on the alternative to the traditional persona. What's the quick pitch on this is the better way.

[00:08:39] Beyond personas

[00:08:39] Ryan Paul Gibson: For me, it's really mapping out what is every step. That a company or person takes when they move from identifying a problem to then handing over their credit card or signing, a statement of work or whatever it is, they, people don't just wake up in business of business and decide to buy something.

[00:09:06] Ryan Paul Gibson: There's a whole progression that happens in a tipping of the events that happens. Well, what are those things and why do they happen in the business and how, what are the things that influence their mindsets around choosing product Y over product X? That to me, those things are a persona and you can follow, you know, jobs be done is a really good innovation framework.

[00:09:27] Ryan Paul Gibson: We people find that out. There's the MOM test, which a lot of product people have used that over the years. there's all the business canvas model approaches. There's the buyer Persona Institute. They sort of focus on personas that way. I'm not alone in this type of work. Everyone sort of has their own flavor, but they all are grounded in that sort of mindset.

[00:09:46] Ryan Paul Gibson: Where did you start? Where did you end up? And what is everything that happened in between? Because if you can map that out, then you can map out, okay, how am I gonna, I. This Marquette with my mar team, right? So that, that's how I look at it and I, I think it's started to become more the norm.

[00:10:05] Ryan Paul Gibson: B2B is notorious for trying to sell feature sets and buzzwords and all that stuff. And I don't think that's ever gonna go away, but I'm seeing more and more appreciation for those types of thought process.

[00:10:19] Ryan Paul Gibson: As people approach this work, is you really something that's simplistic and doesn't take months and months to put together because you need results yesterday in any business. I think there's a balance between applying some rigor around your research process, but still being able to de deliver results.

[00:10:39] Research amidst uncertainty

[00:10:39] Harris Kenny: Yeah. I think that is a challenge for marketers these days, especially right now. It's cool insight. That's great, but what are we doing to move the needle? What are we doing to. be more confident about hitting our numbers next year.

[00:10:53] Harris Kenny: Are you finding, with people thinking more about budgets right now, is that accelerating your deals because people are like, I want to get these insights fast so I can apply it and get better results, or are you seeing people who maybe you were talking to say, oh, nevermind. This was a nice to have, but we don't have time to talk to our customers. We'll do it later.

[00:11:13] Ryan Paul Gibson: Most of the time I get people that are converted to a research mindset, and there's a lot of times it's either we don't have the time or we wanna audit what exists.

[00:11:25] Ryan Paul Gibson: Those are sort of the two, two reasons I get brought in.

[00:11:29] Ryan Paul Gibson: I would say right now people are concerned about what next year is going to look like and they want to have the best chance around effectively managing their marketing budget and managing the company's money.

[00:11:47] Ryan Paul Gibson: I was talking with someone I know who's in demand gen. we were just catching up this week and we were talking about the budgets around research projects. And he said, it's funny, someone will spend $400,000 in LinkedIn ads that do nothing without bating an eye. But if I come in with a research project and say it's $20,000 to do this, whoa.

[00:12:07] Ryan Paul Gibson: You know, so, but that's okay. That's how we think about these things sometimes, because the LinkedIn ads we just see as closer to a sale rather than something that, increase the, an, the odds of us getting that sale.

[00:12:19] Harris Kenny: Right. Yeah. I mean the research, the strategy is what informs that whole big campaign in the first place, right?

[00:12:26] Ryan Paul Gibson: Absolutely.

[00:12:27] Harris Kenny: Is there anything we didn't talk about that you wanted to touch on?

[00:12:32] Ryan Paul Gibson: I just wanna reiterate if anyone's thinking of doing this work, which I think they should, anything new that you're doing in business, marketing, sales development, simplicity for the first take is always the best path. If anyone ever wants to reach out to me, I'm always ha I take it a lot of dms, a lot of emails, always happy to help people walk through how they can approach this type of work because it's, it can be a little overwhelming if you've never done it before.

[00:12:56] Ryan Paul Gibson: So happy to show people what's worked for me and other clients if they're interested.

[00:13:01] Harris Kenny: For sure. Where can they find you?

[00:13:03] Ryan Paul Gibson: LinkedIn. I live there, I live there too much. My wife doesn't get it. Um, that's okay. And then, both ways, I'm always happy to help anyone if they reach out. I'll always answer.


[00:13:16] Outro

[00:13:16] Harris Kenny: That's all for now. You can find show notes at intro The theme music for Pipeline Meeting is by Neighbourhood Vandal. If you learned something, consider sharing this show with a friend. Thanks for listening.