“Good artists copy, great artists steal” by Pablo Picasso.
So, this post is all about stealing from Gong’s marketing, and their mindset to level up.
Disclaimer: This blogpost is self-initiated. I’m not associated with Gong at all, and they have not paid me to do this. I just admire them from far away. I haven’t tried their product yet so can’t comment on that. I did have a chat with their CMO (Udi Ledergor) and followed his guest appearances on several podcasts.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s give you the meat of the content.
- GONG Ranks #1 on G2’S ‘Top 100 Best Software Products’ 2021
- They have raving fans on LinkedIn.
- They have a product that speaks for itself.
- A B2B SaaS brand that has done a super bowl ad (a handful have done it before)
(This Superbowl ad seemed crazy, but Gong has created the most opportunities in that week without burning their marketing ad spend).
Okay, so let’s hop on to how to level up?
1 – Marketing Starts With Your Values
It really makes a difference if your CEO understands marketing. Well, Gong’s CEO, Amit Bendov, does understand marketing. Therefore, they follow these 8 operating principles to start a project or hire a new employee..
Here are there 8 operating principles:
- Create raving fans
- Want more
- Challenge conventional wisdom
- Win as a team
- Act now
- No sugar (state facts, don’t sugarcoat it)
- Favor long term
- Enjoy the ride
For curious people to know more, you can read these 8 principles in detail here.
But, one of the values that Udi also shared on the Everyone Hates Marketer podcast is that “Different is better than better” and “Best practices are ordinary practices’.
Because of these two values, Gong stands out from the crowd of other software companies that have similar products.
So, a question for you — Do you have values like these? If not you need such values to align the entire marketing team and the company to level up.
2 – Positioning To Stand Out
A good marketing team understands the value of messaging and how to differentiate itself from the competition.
Gong is one of the 7000+ Martech/Salestech solutions. So they need to break the clutter to stand out. But let’s talk about positioning first.
According to April Dunford:
”Positioning defines how your product is a leader at delivering something that a well-defined set of customers cares a lot about.”
Gong is in the revenue intelligence category. But they position themselves differently.
They’re fighting opinions. Their competition is bigger than other SaaS companies.
Now a lot of people care about improving the sales and sales team’s performance, and many people do it through coaching. Gong provides those coaches with data to back their feedback.
Is your positioning clear in the minds of your customers? If not, conduct research and find that out.
3 – Know Your Audience Really Well
Gong marketing team really understands their audience. A product like Gong can be applied to many industries, use-cases and personas.
But Gong chose to go for tech companies sales leaders with a big sales team in North America. Last time, when I talked to Udi (Gong’s CMO), I remember that he said companies above 50 employees or more than 10 sales folks in the team at least.
Based on Gong’s website, they focus on:
- Sales Leaders
- Frontline Sales Managers
- Sales Enablement
- Account Executives
It gets really hard to manage a sales team and improve its performance at scale.
This helps them with:
- Which channels to exploit?
- What kind of messaging resonates with them?
- What gets their attention?
- What do they really care about?
- What are they afraid of and their deepest desires?
Everything gets easier. You need to pick a niche to get raving fans. Gong didn’t focus on every sales leader in the world.
So, to level up — Niche down.
4 – Content Marketing Team That Just Gets It (this is my favorite part)
Life gets a lot easier if you are the persona who you are selling to.
Gong’s content marketer, Devin Reed, used to be an account executive in his former roles (even at Gong he started as an AE).
We know that a content marketing team’s job is to educate, inform, inspire and transform the audience and help them to do better at their jobs.
Yet, we all get stuck somewhere between content and SEO.
Udi, Devin, and Gong’s marketing team have done a stellar job in content marketing. I fell in love with Gong because of it.
So, how do they do it better?
Trustworthy Data-led Content that answers customers’ key questions
While we’re doing keyword research to rank on. Udi’s team knows the questions his audience has (I can tell – and I used to be in sales).
There are thousands of sales leaders who have different opinions on how to do sales right, and much more.
Gong came up with their data to back up what works in sales.
A few examples below:
How to close more in 2020 and beyond.
I’ve discussed for hours on this topic with my CEO and sales manager to align ourselves. This kind of content helps us do a much better job.
Another one here about negotiation in sales.
One of the graphs that simply answer questions in my head – Should I share pricing in the first call or not?
This is the kind of content that I want to pay for.
Even the tone of voice is relatable in this post to a salesperson — This is why speak like your customers matters more:
What do they think about content? I’ve watched Devin in a webinar. And, here’s what he said about different ways to think about it:
- Is this a problem that your audience cares about today?
- Is it insightful? Unique storyline, perspective or data-backed
- Immediately actionable? Such as playbooks, checklists, infographics etc. Does it help them do their job better?
- Would people pay for this?
This was so useful to me that I added it to my content marketing checklist (this is exactly where you take a screenshot)
Actionable podcast that helps you to do better at your job
Gong is winning with podcasting by bringing actionable ideas and pros. Podcasting gives you a voice, makes it more relatable and inspires you to do better at your job.
Is your podcasting strategy just to be there or inspire your audience with actionable ideas?
So, here’s how you can level up your content marketing:
- Write data-led content to answer specific questions to your audience
- Write in their tone of voice
- Understand their pains deeply
- Make it actionable, relevant, and insightful. Make it so good that they want to pay you to read it.
5 – Keeping it Human on Social Media
Gong was very early to figure out that LinkedIn is where their audience hangs out.
Have you had folks selling to you on LinkedIn? Gong does not do that. They educate and inspire. They have fun.
According to Udi on several podcasts, “we take our work seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously!”.
Gongsters are taking over LinkedIn how white walkers were taking over the north. The only difference is Gongsters are winning.
Why? Because they’re having fun on LinkedIn and being more relatable on the platform.
What’s their playbook?
Is it Udi’s Piano sessions? 🤔
Or him being funnier than all of us?
There’s no secret — Just be human, have fun, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
But some of the lessons that Udi has shared about how to gain traction on LinkedIn for your brands are:
1 – Break the pattern
Post like a person, not a Robot.
Grab attention with content that might have been on other platforms but it’s not on LinkedIn. It’s because most LinkedIn posts look the same so if yours looks more like an Instagram post, it will get more attention. LinkedIn posts are usually boring.
2 – Engage in a human way
Talk to your followers.
“Just want to touch base” is a usually salesy opener.
This is how deep they understand their audience.
3 – How to get traffic to your website?
Make it about them. Make it about people they admire. Gong made it about their guests and other brands.
Don’t talk about yourself. Give them what they want.
Always start with what your audience wants to learn about.
4 – How to drive pipeline sales?
Give value for free publicity, and drive traffic through lead magnet in that public post for more content.
Below is an example of the same data-backed free content with the premium content upgrade.
5 – How to go viral on LinkedIn?
Invite your team. But do tell them — Why is it important? What’s the big announcement? Give them two versions of the copy to post on Social media. Don’t make them think.
But only make it a few times per month. Don’t overdo it.
Give your raving fans something to talk about.
For example, a chatbot is unlike the other chatbots. Normal chatbots, “hey! how can I help you?”
Gong’s chatbot — it woofs at you. So people talk about it.
But Aazar, is it working?
Yes — Look at the blue line of organic followers on LinkedIn.
Last advice on LinkedIn social media marketing, always be testing. Algorithms change, and so you need to keep testing on social media to break the clutter.
6 – Outbound vs Inbound Channels
Everything above that I just showed you is 20% of their marketing efforts i.e. branding & 80% of their marketing delivers on performance and closing.
Email, LinkedIn, and Events are driving primary performance according to Udi in several podcasts. Gong has yet to exploit its paid marketing budget.
But Outbound is the first thing Udi figured out when starting.
Outbound does work if you know your audience and its pain well.
I don’t have full visibility on it but performance is driving Gong’s success. Not just sexy content marketing.
My takeaway is to keep driving the brand marketing but your 80% efforts should be on performance channels.
7 – Invest in A players
Marketing is a profit centre. To stand out, break the clutter of messages, create a brand that people love, and generate revenue. You need to invest in A-players.
Marketing is a team game. You need all-superstars for this.
Every Gong marketer, I have interacted with is the most professional marketer I have met or seen.
Also, A-players can be in other departments, not necessarily in marketing. Watching Udi and Gong, I am always open to more A-players coming from outside of marketing experience.
Devin is a good example of a salesman becoming a marketer (which made sense for Gong).
Here’s an example of one of its employees inviting me to their events, and see how good they are in copywriting.
What do I love about this email?
- People use the first name in the subject line, they took my last name.
- Simple choppy copy.
- Time-bound (they know it’s Monday).
- Write like you talk (CHRISS VOSS BABY!!)
- Conversational: Wait, you’re coming right?
- Clear CTA.
- Using my name twice (People love listening to their name – How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie).
- Social proof: 5329 people are coming
8 – A Coach mindset of Zagging
To have such an impactful team, a lot of credit goes to Udi (no matter how modest he is). Udi is like a coach to Gong’s superstars.
Marketers need to learn from a coach like Udi who keeps zagging instead of zigging.
Gong has a list of ideas which is called “Udi’s crazy ideas”.
You need to stand out as a marketing leader. You need to inspire them. You need to recognize their achievements and be their biggest fan. This is what I have learned from Udi (much more than that too).
This is how Gong celebrates its employees (crazy idea #1).
Crazy idea #2 – Getting attention from executives in the Dreamforce by delivering food.
Wanna know more crazy ideas from Udi?
That Superbowl ad?
Trying to place themselves on Netflix?
You know the best part– he is not even afraid that you’re going to copy or steal it. He’ll push his team to come up with even better ideas.
We need to push ourselves too.
Let me wrap it up for ya
Whatever I’ve just shared must be the tip of the iceberg. Gong must be doing a lot of things right on other topics I have not covered such as product, customer success, and their sales team, etc.
First, don’t copy their ideas, copy the mindset. Now, you have some ideas on how to be DIFFerent.
Here’s what I’ll take away from Gong’s marketing team to level up:
- I’ll lead with our company’s values and principles
- I’ll be more human on social media.
- I’ll do deeper research on my persona and audience.
- I’ll lead with data-led content.
- I’ll focus on performance while investing 20% in brand marketing.
- I’ll make more content that is actionable, relevant, useful, and inspiring.
- I’ll zig when people zag.
- I’ll have a list of crazy ideas.
- I’ll work for a CEO who understands marketing.
- I’ll keep following Gong to get inspired.
What did you learn? I’ll let you answer this question to yourself.
So, follow Gong on LinkedIn (if you are this far on my blog post).
If you have any comments, connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.
P.S. If this inspired you, I podcast about growth marketing stories 👉 You can find out more about it here