Content Flywheel: A Game-Changing Strategy | Chris Walker (CEO of Refine Labs)

Jan 26, 2024

Notes

Hey everyone, welcome back to the channel! Today, we have a special guest who is revolutionizing the B2B marketing world, Chris Walker, the CEO of Refine Labs. Chris is here to share his innovative strategy, the Dark Social Content Flywheel, and how it can transform the way we approach content creation and distribution.

Video Overview:
In this episode, we dive deep into the Dark Social Content Flywheel, a strategy that leverages live events, real-time audience interaction, and strategic content repurposing to create a continuous cycle of engagement and growth. Chris shares his insights on how to maximize the impact of your content, build a loyal audience, and drive meaningful interactions that lead to business success.

About Chris Walker:
Chris Walker is the CEO of Refine Labs, a company dedicated to helping B2B companies grow through innovative marketing strategies. With a wealth of experience in the industry, Chris is passionate about changing the way businesses approach marketing and is a strong advocate for customer-centric strategies.

Connect with Chris Walker:

- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-walker-41597028
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrisWalker
- Company Website: https://www.refinelabs.com

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Transcript

Andy Mewborn:
So we've had some awesome guests on. We've had Ryan Long, who started Attentive. He was on recently. We got Noah Kagan coming on. And then we have the biggest guest of all, Chris Walker, the LinkedIn star. me like, how do we get like the team active on LinkedIn?

Chris Walker:
And my answer is always, you get active on LinkedIn. We do no, basically no SEO at my company. And I'm ranking number one over big websites because I made a YouTube short video and they have their blog that they published four years ago. It's undeniable that there's no larger opportunity for organic reach than TikTok right now.

Andy Mewborn:
I actually had someone, we were at outreach and someone was applying for a role, I think like a manager. And I got an ad and I looked at this ad and it was like, hey, Andrew, this is why you should hire me. That was the headline. And I was like, what the most from Chris Walker is, I was talking to Adam Robinson, who was on the pod, you know, founder retention. We're going to dinner in a couple of weeks. And he, he is most interested. He, I love Adam cause he's obsessed. He's like, dude, I need to figure out what Chris did on my thing.

Chris Walker:
Cause he, he's, yeah, dude, let's talk, let's break that whole thing. Let's break that whole thing down. I haven't talked about that in a minute and like, it'll be interesting to look back cause it's, it's now been like fucking almost five years. So, Yeah, we can talk we can spend an hour or however long just on that.

Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, let's talk that because I think I think people would find the most value in that people know and then like your kind of voice on LinkedIn, which seems to be what I like is anytime I see a comment from you on LinkedIn. For all right, first off, whenever I see your stuff pop up, which is now rarely ever, we talked about this the other day, but the stuff that does pop up for for you is never your content right now. It's it's your comments, which whenever I know whenever I see a Chris comment, I'm like. Yup, it's going to be contrarian and he's going to completely disagree with whatever this person is saying. So let's break it down, then we'll get into the strategy. And then let's talk about how you started, dude. And then like the evolution, because I think that would be interesting for people. And why we should do this is because you've built a massive business just on LinkedIn, right? Everyone tries to do everything, Twitter, LinkedIn, all that. You've just stuck to LinkedIn. I think you've dabbled in other stuff. But like, let's break down how the heck you did it.

Chris Walker:
Yeah, it's cool. Yeah, just to get it started, I was talking to an investment firm yesterday. And he was asking, like some of the GTM advisor was asking me a question. About okay. So like part of it is a fit like efficiency in the marketing spend, right? So we have to be able to lower it but at some point as a executive we need to be able to put a million or two million dollars and get compounding gains out of marketing. How do we know when the right time to do that is and I said When this when you say that's the CMO and they say this is exactly how I'm gonna spend a million dollars And this is exactly how much ROI I'm gonna get but what happens in b2b companies is that they never know What is that one thing that's going to drive massive growth? So if they get a million dollars in budget They take a hundred K and split it out over ten things and get no like degrading ROI across the whole the whole million because they don't have one to two powerful channels that they know are they're gonna be their major growth levers and So let's talk about... Some people would say that's contrarian, but I truly believe to grow a business at any scale, you need 1-2 marketing channels. That's the best thing at that exact time. And you need to push it as hard as you can. Sure, you still need to be doing a couple of other things. You don't abandon your email strategy or your SEO strategy. but you're making huge investments and focus in a couple of core things. And so for me, the initial one, in my experimentation when I started my company, April 2019, I have one customer paying me $5,000 a month, no employees, less than 1,000 followers on LinkedIn, nobody knows who I am. And so I was experimenting with creating content both on Instagram organic and on LinkedIn. And was getting interesting traction sort of on both but what I noticed is on Instagram I was like attracting like the thousand dollar a month, you know small business e-commerce company that was trying to get me to run their Instagram ads that they had a thousand dollar a month budget and on LinkedIn I started to get interest from B2B companies that just raised ten million dollars in series a and had a bunch of money that they were like trying to deploy in marketing and already had an existing engine and were willing to spend a lot more and The problems are bigger, the opportunity was bigger, they're willing to invest more to address that problem or to get that opportunity. And so quickly, within the first three months of LinkedIn, and when I started on LinkedIn, I was posting like a couple times a week. And what I thought to myself was like, who cares what Chris Walker thinks? Doesn't everybody think the way that I do? I feel like this is common knowledge. And I started to go to B2B conferences, and I would see the people that would keynote at the B2B conferences, and I would listen to it. And with all respect, I was like, this stuff is trash. This is the person they have keynoting this big conference in Boston that I'm an attendee for. And I figured out three years ago that all this stuff isn't the right thing to do anymore. And so that started to give me a little bit of confidence in my voice to think about that It was different and I started posting on LinkedIn and when I was posting seven to ten likes my first post probably got three Seven to ten likes is like the range that I stayed in for a while. It was all text post at that time and And at some point over the first couple of months, I would get an inbound DM from someone, usually people that I'd worked with in the past already that then through my posting figured out that I was doing my own thing. And so I attracted a couple of people from my network that knew me that then hired me. All of a sudden now you're making 15, 20K a month and you're making more than your job within three months of leaving it and then just posting on LinkedIn inconsistently getting almost no engagement. And so the misconception of like, oh, LinkedIn takes a long time to work, it depends how you define success. To me, going from 5K a month to 15K a month within 60 days of posting on LinkedIn was a massive success. And so I think people, when they think about whether something works or not, need to be clear on what the success criteria is.

Andy Mewborn:
And then- Let's stop there real quick, because you made a major point. And then hold that thought, hold that thought. Because you said something interesting that I 100% agree with you on, which is every company that blows up has some arbitrage channel that they use, they just double down on, right? And it depends on timing, right? So if you look at like, If you look at like outreach, right, where we were, I mean, we built the system to do this, but like our arbitrage early on was cold email. Guess what? We built the system to do a crap ton of cold email faster and at scale more than anyone. And this is when no one had a system like that within B2B. So they were all doing everything manual. So we used our own system to use cold emails arbitrage. And then if you look at other companies, some used Facebook ads when they were cheap. Some used, I don't know, whatever the hell the other channels are. Some used Instagram, some used LinkedIn, some used whatever. That's super interesting because I agree with you on that. And the mistake that people make is they try and fucking do everything initially, right? When it's like, it's like, no, pick one that you know is going to work for me. Like, like, I dabble on Twitter and stuff. But no, like LinkedIn's my my holy grail, right? Like I'm just going to own LinkedIn. And I think some companies are doing well. You obviously did that. I think for B2B, LinkedIn is amazing. So it's an interesting point. Now, let me ask you, what do you think the channels are right now? Like for arbitrage, like for like B2B specifically?

Chris Walker:
Yeah. Let's just go through some examples. You mentioned a couple, but Amazon.com, a ton of their business growth was through Google paid search ads in the early 2000s. They were the largest advertiser of Google search in the 2000s. And they built the company... Obviously, they did a ton of things right. And the strategy is great. And they have great leadership. But that's a signal there. They were the biggest spender early on for the first... I think the first 7 years of Google paid search ads. And they massively took advantage of it. And they built a massive company. Then you look at a company like Salesforce. Salesforce built it off of the predictable revenue cold calling model. They got a large amount of their growth through that model in the late 2000s that took them from basically the transition from on-prem to cloud. And they took advantage of that channel, which was cold calling in the late 2000s. Then you look at a company like HubSpot in the early 2010s that built the company off of gated content, email nurtures, and SEO. And they built a very large company off of that core marketing channel. Then you look at a company like Wish.com who built a $4 billion eCommerce company on the back of Facebook ads in the mid-2000s, mid-2010s. There are several that had huge successes on Instagram during that time. A lot of B2C companies. Then you look at a company like Gong or Drift that had massive breakouts in a B2B company on LinkedIn. You look at myself and things like that. and LinkedIn and a podcast and things like that. And that will continue to happen because there are always one or two very golden marketing channels at any one time that have to match the buyer and the seller together, right? If Wish.com doing that on LinkedIn, they might have not gotten the same result. Yeah. Me doing that on Instagram, we might have not gotten the same result because it has to have like a content creator audience, very large match. Yeah. So let's talk about what the best opportunities are today. Yeah, I want to hear that. And let's talk about it in the context of B2B as well. Let's sort of narrow it down. I still believe that the move of live event, webinar, to podcast, to micro video content on LinkedIn is one of the best moves in B2B today. LinkedIn is by far the highest used channel for content consumption for B2B professionals, especially when they're in a B2B mindset and a buying mindset. Your mindset is different when you're using Instagram or TikTok versus LinkedIn. You're the same person, but the way that you approach the channel is different. I think that there is a large opportunity in short-form vertical video. And then you can look at that across... You could basically cross-post TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. The format's almost exactly the same and the algorithm's pushing those things up. But you'd use them for different reasons on... on YouTube Shorts is actually very much a modern SEO strategy. Google owns YouTube Shorts, they're trying to make that mobile move. They put in the top search results based on the search optimization of that YouTube Short video, they put it at number one in Google Search. So we do basically no SEO at my company and I'm ranking number one over big websites because I made a YouTube Short video and they have their blog that they published four years ago. So I think that's interesting. It's undeniable that there's no larger opportunity for organic reach than TikTok right now. It's undeniable. And B2B professionals consume content on the platform, and we're getting some early signals that it works, but I'm not fully there yet for a B2B environment. So I think those are some of the best opportunities. When you think about LinkedIn, people look at LinkedIn ads as expensive. I think just the way that companies use LinkedIn ads makes it expensive. And I think that LinkedIn... Like paid distribution of content is also a massive opportunity when you think about how good the targeting is.

Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, that's something that's like I haven't screwed around with with LinkedIn ads yet, but it blows my mind like Facebook ads like when you go in there and you go because I'm running some right now just doing a couple little tests. And it works off of broad targeting, right? And it's saying, hey, we're gonna give you, we're gonna automatically say, hey, broad targeting, you can't say I want CROs, I want these people. And with LinkedIn, you can boil it down to the actual company and role, right? Or person, I think you could even target the exact person that you want, which is insane. And a funny story here, I actually had someone, Uh, we were at outreach and some, uh, someone was applying for a role, I think like a manager, not even just like an AE role or something. And, um, I got an ad and I looked at this ad and it was like, Hey, Andrew, this is why you should hire me or whatever. And it was like, that was the headline. And I was like, what the heck? Or I'm applying to outreach. Basically he targeted me and I clicked on it. I was like, this is amazing. So what did I do? I sent it to my recruiting department and that got him a meeting. Right. I don't know if we ever hired that person. I don't think we did. But anyway, we should have because I mean, if you're doing that, it gets you in the door and that's what that's what it takes. Right. And so like that, I think was like super phenomenal. So I think there's a lot of creativity that you can get with that, that people aren't leveraging. I think what I when I look at LinkedIn ads right now, I see like the standard, hey, we're the number one CRM. Yeah. We're the number one CRM or whatever the hell it is, right? Get my ebook or get my white paper, which, which, you know, we don't like white papers around here, but, you know.

Chris Walker:
Yeah. Let's talk to that because I have an example yesterday. So I'm consulting with a company like hundred million plus company and the VP of revenue marketing. We're like looking at their data on LinkedIn as they spent a million dollars on LinkedIn ads last year, nine 85. And our analysis is showing a 56-month CAC payback on just the advertising spend. So not including marketing headcount, SDRs, sales. Just the ad spend. We're talking 80-100-month CAC payback on this LinkedIn execution. And then so what they say is like, we want to change the strategy on LinkedIn, but our CFO needs to have this direct tracking to show the ROI. And I said, so what do you show them right now to show them that there's ROI on LinkedIn? Because if I took the report that we just built and showed them, hey, I know that you need direct tracking on this, but here's the ROI. We're fucking wasting a million dollars a year on this strategy because you think that we need to track it this way. And so most companies are stuck in that trap. Most companies, because the finance department is going to look at it that way, or they force them into certain things so that at least 80% of the spend on LinkedIn ads, but usually closer to 95% or 100, is spent on lead generation forms, where you get $150 to $300 conversion or lead, and then they become a customer at 0.1%. Um, and so, uh, yeah, like I, there's huge power in LinkedIn ads, but companies, whether they're, whether the metrics don't allow them to, or they're just haven't figured it out yet, have not been able to figure out how to use the LinkedIn media to target those people in creative ways and drive business outcomes. Yeah.

Andy Mewborn:
And this is like, so let me ask you who's doing it well right now. Who do you, is there anyone doing it? Well, besides all your customers, of course, right.

Chris Walker:
Yeah. We believe fully that the best strategy inside of LinkedIn is a combination of paid and organic working together. And when you narrow it down to those companies, there's really not that many. I think that a company like Clary is one that is doing really well right now. You have thought leadership coming from the CEO, their CMO, I think their CFO as well. So they have organic thought leadership going. Then you can take that thought leadership and amplify it in thought leadership ads targeted at your accounts. And then you take paid distribution and you run category marketing, product marketing, social proof, things like that, all ungated content. And you can really dominate that channel. There are if you look there are almost no Maybe some companies have figured out how to run LinkedIn ads in a different way and they don't run all run all lead gen those are few and far between But there's even fewer that are all doing that like the proper 2023 LinkedIn ad strategy in combination with organic Which is how you get the yeah, the real compound, you know, I had this idea well, you know, I'm building distributing now and I had this idea like every

Andy Mewborn:
Like most employees, like I want to keep the team small and I'm, what I'm going to do is every employee, even if we have to get a guest ghostwriter, we're going to do thought leadership posts every morning. Like basically recreate the process and do that every morning from each person. And I brought this up to Adam from retention and he's, he's doing exactly that with his team right now. He's doing it with his CRO. He's doing it with his new CEO. So all the exact leaders are all posting stuff. I don't know if it's daily right now, but it's like often and it's all amazing. Like because he's, he's basically coaching them. And I think he has a ghostwriter coaching them as well, but he's got this ghostwriter coaching each of them to do thought leadership. And each one of them is getting like at least 500 likes on the post. And it's actually like legit info. And it's very valuable.

Chris Walker:
You take that existing base and you put 5 or 10k a month, you get 3k in retargeting, you have a very solid retargeting audience, and you go 7k cold. And that's how you really blend them together. We're starting to do that now. I think we spend 3 to 5k a month on LinkedIn ads, specific at like account filters and based on intent. And yeah, so we believe that is the ideal combination of how to do both, but we'll continue to share what findings we have.

Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, interesting. I think I'm going to try and mess with that. Which is like, I've always done that on an Instagram, you know, right now, just again, dabbling in Instagram. It's like looking at what it does organically, taking the top organic posts and then boosting those, which we've talked about. Right. And then seeing which one of the same thing they make it so easy to do. Like Facebook's like, give me your money. Right. There's like a big button. It's like boost post. I feel like LinkedIn, we're kind of going a little off topic here, but if they just put like a boost post button there and we're like, throw 50 bucks at this post, when it was there, it would like, they, their revenue would go insane. Right. Because it's like right in front of your face, able to do that. Because there's this barrier to entry right now. I'm using LinkedIn ads too, because they're, I would say a little behind when it comes to the experience, but.

Chris Walker:
Yeah, there's been like a crazy shift in platforms over the past two years and LinkedIn isn't fully there, but my guess is that they'll end up. But if you look at a TikTok or Instagram Reels, the distribution or the reach of the post is now much more correlated with the quality of the content and the engagement and your following. And so what that means is that when you get an organic post that works well, you've had it fully validated by the audience that people like it. And so before, a lot of people would build a bunch of content and then run paid against it without testing. And now a much better approach is to create the content, run it organic, let the metrics tell you for themselves, and then either take that post and directly boost it or edit it to make it more of a paid or performance ad, and then put that and then use that as paid content. But you're getting validation that it works before. Most people guess when they put out a commercial, they make the commercial and then they hope that it works. And in this way, you can make the content and then prove that it works and then make it in, like transform that into a commercial, which we think is a better way to like run media now.

Andy Mewborn:
Yeah. You know, it's funny. I was listening to this interview with the Liquid Death founder, Mike, who I'm obsessed with Liquid Death. And they're just there. I mean, what they've done is like they've taken the world's number one commodity and like created a media company to sell it. It's pretty phenomenal, right? They did the Red Bull move but with water, right? And this podcast with the founder, I was listening and he said, they're like, how do you come up with your ideas, right? And he said, look, we used to do a bunch of quantity, right? And he's like, we actually completely X that. And now we do quality. And he's like, well, what do you know what quality is? And he like, he goes, well, we actually look through all the comments of stuff that we've posted in the past or stuff we post. And people will leave comments like, Oh my gosh, my kid is even drinking this and thought it was beer. Or, or people leave funny comments, like, you know, stuff like that. And then they'll actually take that that market data or what people are saying would be funny that are commenting and they're taking that and they're making videos out of that. Right. So when they focus on quality, going back to your point, they're actually looking at the market data, like let's call it signals, breakout data points. Right. And they're saying like, hey, holy crap, like let's just make that would actually be a funny commercial is doing something around that. The comment on that already got thousands of likes. People already said that would be hilarious. And so they're actually using their like, let's call it UGC comments, right. User generated. ideas, let's call it UGI, right? And just making commercials and their next big, you know, gimmicky post out of that, which is, it's genius, you know, because they're not guessing. They're like, holy shit, like, let's make what works and like,

Chris Walker:
Do it. Because the genius is having the feedback loop from the audience back into the content. And look at where B2B companies produce and distribute content. They distribute it in media that gets almost no comments, on blogs that get almost no comments, in e-books that get almost no comments. And so what happens is they never get any feedback about whether people are actually liking this or not. And they go and put this on social and they don't get any feedback either because in actuality, the content isn't good. I've been using this flow from the beginning. I still use it today. Somebody will write something on a LinkedIn post, I'll make a comment about that to share my perspective with my entire followers about, hey, this person has this perspective, but just be aware of this, this, and this that you should consider here. And that comment gets 100 likes and a bunch of different comments on that, and then that becomes a new post. Or I post. And I get 100 comments in there and someone has an objection or someone has something about that. Hey, I don't understand this. Could you explain this more? And then you can take that and you can use that as an input to a post. Or I do live events. And I do live events and I talk about things and then people ask questions and then I answer those questions and that becomes posts. But I'm not guessing either because I have the insight loop from the market back. Yeah. And so I think that's the key place here. And just point blank, B2B companies and B2B marketers do not look at this shit. No, they don't, dude. They don't. They never look at it or they never, they don't have, they don't never create the machine to actually get the feedback back. Um, and so you're, you're flying blind when you go and do keyword research about how, like what blog you should write about next. Um, and you, you're missing the real tangible insights from the market right now. So yeah, that becomes a foundational part of how to build a content strategy is build content around what your audience wants. and needs help.

Andy Mewborn:
It's a product in itself. Right. And I think people forget that, like that you're just like when you build a product, you know, listen to customers, listen to that. Like every I think every piece of content that you put out is a product in itself. Right. That that you should look at and say, OK, how do I iterate this? How do I do you know, how do we change this? And this goes back to, I think, the role. My my opinion is that content is the best new way to create demand today, right? Like I think having like a founder brand or an audience is arbitrage. Now getting to that point is obviously very difficult, but if you have a person that has a brand like yourself, Chris, right? Like that in itself is arbitrage in my opinion right now. And you kind of see it with these forward thinking founders, right? Which are like, holy shit, let me invest in building this founder brand, getting my team, right? Building the audience per se, whatever, whether it's on LinkedIn or elsewhere. But with that, I think what's becoming more important there is what you said is having that, I don't know what you would call it, like a social media coordinator or social media marketer, but the person that's listening to those signals and those trying to find those breakout data points, right? Because you and I can do that. Like we'll do it on a, you know, on a day, you know, day by day basis. And we're, we're trying to manage it. Right. But like at a, at a, different level if you're getting hundreds of comments, how do you make sure you create a system around that? I see these social media marketers as becoming very undervalued in that way, right? And then seeing the role change as well from being more of like, hey, let me get out and schedule this stuff to more of like this scientific approach to what's working, what's not. And so, yeah, just a quick thought I had on that, but what do you think there, right? Like, as you mentioned, no one's looking at this shit probably because no one is, tasks of focusing on it.

Chris Walker:
I mean, uh, the first thing that I want to go to is like you, you mentioned like, Oh, we have these founders that are building personal brands and they're quote unquote forward thinking. Um, it's interesting to, it's interesting to debate whether they're actually forward thinking or they're building a business based on how the world works today versus the people that started building their business in 2013 that haven't taped, haven't moved that step. Like, the reason that people do the stuff on LinkedIn today is because it's the best opportunity to build today. It's like cold calling in 2007 and Amazon search ads in 2000. Like right now, that is the move. And so like, I don't want to discredit anyone. I did the same thing. So I'm not like talking, but it's interesting to think as people observe, are these people really forward thinking or are they just smart based on how the world works today? And then when we think about a social media manager, this is a tough one. Especially in B2B, if you look at almost every B2B social media strategy against real outcomes, there is probably less than a tenth of a percent that are getting positive ROI on these investments. Yeah, almost every b2b social media strategy is checking the box. Let's post something about our company cookout last week Oh, it's flag day. We'll post a put thing happy flag day And they're just mailing it in doing like the basic social media strategy Then you got the social media manager over there saying like hey, I should be making I should be making more money But there's really absolutely no roi in the program um And then conversely, you look at the companies that have either have invested in it fully and maybe don't don't do as much anymore or are in the current of investing in it, getting an incredible and massive ROI. We calculate our ROI on LinkedIn ads to be somewhere around twenty eight million dollars over the past two or LinkedIn, not LinkedIn ads. We don't actually separate paid and organic. Twenty eight million dollars in closed one business over the past two years. And we have a four person team that does it. So people, you can determine what you think the ROI of those activities are. But it's a small, it's a very small subset of the people that are actually getting ROI. And I think the drivers to whether you have a social strategy or a dark social content strategy really work today is that you need executives to be doing it. You need executives in the company to be showing the rest of the company that this is a priority. It's a priority for me. I'm not outsourcing it to a ghostwriter. I'm not having my assistant answer my comments. It's a priority for me because I know how the world works today, even though I have a 500-person company. I'm committed to doing this because I'm going to get my company to exit for a billion dollars. And then all of a sudden, it permeates. And then other executives in the company either start doing it or feel more comfortable to start experimenting with it. Then all of a sudden, you set up self-reported attribution and a couple of other basic measurement strategies. And you start to see people that are coming inbound at your target accounts to buy say, Oh, I listen to Kyle Komen's LinkedIn posts all the time. That's why I'm interested in buying Clary now. Or I see your CEO's posts every day. They're so insightful about how to run revenue. Like, I want to talk to you. And then you push that into Slack and the whole fucking company is now seeing, hey, target account, tier one account, CMO or CEO coming inbound to work with us based on Andy Burns content. Yeah. And then all of a sudden, you start to get the waves of it going. But if you start at the bottom with your social media manager and say, OK, we're going to outsource our LinkedIn thought leadership strategy to a social media person who's supposed to make content for CROs and CFOs, why you obviously it's not going to work and that person never gets traction there never gets expansion you don't set up the right measurement to to report on it and it never works um and so there's very simple steps and you can watch it repeat over and over at companies you can look at drift you can look at gong you can look at clary you can look at refine labs over and you can look at retention.com it's proven you can look at hockey over and over, it's the same thing. The executives start it, they believe in it, they measure it the right way, team feels, they start to see the results, team feels more comfortable, team scales. Yeah, yeah.

Andy Mewborn:
And it has to start top down. And so many people have asked me, like, how do you, you know, founders of like, you know, let's say 10 to 100 employees, you know, in that little circle where I'm like, hey, how do we get like the team active on LinkedIn? I'm like, and my answer is always you get active on LinkedIn. Like and is is cliche as it is. It's like lead by example and people will follow. Right. Like I think if you look at gong like all the reps I think they don't quote me on this. I think some people like some somewhere out there someone said they had a quota like people had to post at least once a week or something. I don't know if that's true but it's not. Yeah it's not anymore. But people were. And if you look at these companies that all have reps that are posting, they probably came from companies where the leader at the top, the CEO or one of the execs was actually posting content. Right. And it is simple as that. However, you know, it blows my mind that even CMOs of companies and no discredit to them, there's some out there and, you know, they're busy, whatever, are doing this. right? Of like, you know, that they're not posting and they're a B2B company. It's a perfect way to do it. Why do you think they're just not doing it? Like even CMOs, right?

Chris Walker:
They see it's working for you. It really depends on your buyer, right? So you need to, you need to decide as a CMO, am I the subject matter expert or am I the architect? True, true. Right? If you're a CMO and you felt a CISO is like you trying to be the host of the podcast. It's not going to work. It's not going to work. Yeah. but you being clear in how to architect that and get your executive or subject matter expert here and know who the influencers and key opinion leaders in your industry are and how they get on your podcast, how you wrap events around them, how you get that onto a long form podcast, YouTube, into LinkedIn, how you boost it with media. That's a CMO role as the architect of that. And then at a bigger company, it would go down at a VP or a director level. But at the beginning, if you're the CMO of a thousand person company, You should get that to work, not outsource it to your director of content. You should prove that that works at an executive level. And so it's just about deciding, are you the subject matter expert? Are you the architect and the CMO in the CMO seat? Why do companies and CMOs not prioritize it? Because it's not measured effectively in companies. If you really trace back everything, Every behavior in marketing and in sales and everything else is based on the goals and incentives inside of those departments and teams. If you're a CMO and you need to get 50,000 MQLs, then there's no sense in posting on LinkedIn or building a podcast or doing anything like that because it's not going to get you any trackable MQLs. And so that's why companies don't, and if you think you need MQLs and you need attribution or, and you need influence revenue, you're not going to get an influence revenue touchpoint on an organic post on social media, on a podcast, on a YouTube video, or on a million other things that people view. And so why would you do that? It doesn't help you hit your goal. And so it's really questioning inside of B2B companies, which I question all the time, is what are the right goals and KPIs that allow the team to do the things that are most effective today? The measurement systems that companies use were most appropriate in 2013 marketing, and people still are stuck in the same box inbounds about how we do marketing, which is pretty much... Look, still gating ebooks is one of the main strategies. Yeah, which is crazy. 2013 was a popular strategy. Yeah.

Andy Mewborn:
For people that listen to this, go watch it, because Chris, the way he shakes his head when he says that is hilarious. He just, he smiles and shakes his head, which is just phenomenal. Okay, so let's boil this down. Top down is what you need to freaking get this thing going. Like that is, if you want to start today, how do you do it? You get the CEO to do it. I think Adam, Adam at retention and why we talk about, we're all in Austin, we're all friends, you know, and he, he, he did it the right way. He basically, he said he first hired a ghostwriter and he's like, that wasn't me. He's like, that wasn't me. He's like, I love the kid, but that wasn't me. And so he said, I'm going to figure this out. He's like, and I'm going to do less things and I'm gonna get better at them. And that less thing for marketing for me was getting good at LinkedIn. And he brought you up. He's like, dude, I want to get on Chris's level, you know, so, uh, which is funny. So he's like, I'm going to get good at this. He's like, I got a coach. Right. And he's like, I got a coach. And now he has a coach, uh, Alec who's phenomenal. Right. And he's got a coach now he's crushing it. Right. So he has, I think that helps for two reasons. So I think maybe people that want to do this and you're scared, right. Or, or you have this imposter syndrome or fear of perfectionism or, or, you know, whatever it is, I think that holds a lot of people back from it, even at the top is, These execs, they get coaches for like, how do I handle HR? How do I handle this? How do I handle this? But one of the most impactful coaches you can do is you getting content out there that's seen by at least a thousand people. So you're on stage by in front of at least a thousand people, like you should definitely get a coach for that. If you're a little bit scared or whatever, I think that's one way to start, right? And there's multiple out there. Chris, you didn't need a coach and some people just don't need it. They kind of have a marketing sense or whatever. But I think that's one kind of takeaway here that some execs can really have. I don't know. What do you think about it?

Chris Walker:
The only reason I didn't need a coach on LinkedIn is because I've been using social media to sell stuff since 2013 when I was using Facebook ads to sell speakers and then Instagram organic. to sell towels and blankets. And then Facebook, organic and ads. And Instagram, organic and ads to sell medical devices. And then Facebook ads to sell other medical devices. And so when I started on LinkedIn, I was six years into using social media to sell stuff. That's why I didn't need a coach. But a lot of people don't want to wait six years. And so in that case, maybe you should get a coach so you can accelerate that. When I did it, I didn't have any money, so I couldn't afford a coach for a couple thousand bucks a month. But most executives or founders can't. So that's a decision that you need to make. But to me, once you see it, you can't unsee it. And so if you are a person that is not bought into this, you need to figure out how to see it, that the people are there, that they engage, that they log in five times a day, that there's huge scale, that sometimes when you post or someone that's posting about the same stuff that you want to talk about gets a million views, that that could be you. You need to see it. And then you need to commit to an outcome. It's just like if you're 300 pounds and you're trying to get to 180, you gotta commit to that outcome. And right now, if you're a founder of a 10-person company and your strategy is predictable revenue cold call with 4 BDRs and 3 AEs, and it's all your 6K HPE product that doesn't have product market fit, you're gonna lose, most likely. And so thinking about how to get committed to see it and then get committed to a new strategy for how the world works today.

Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, and it's interesting you say that. Yes, getting started today, if you think you're gonna rely on this, and this is kind of from someone on Outreach, right? To help build Outreach. If you think you're just gonna use Outreach and do the cold call, cold email thing, No, like it's, that's going to be part of it. And here's what I think the magic formula is, right? I think the magic formula is you have this, this person like you, me, Adam, some, you know, some phenomenal women out there, Sam Sales, right. That are also doing it. And you have them and they're building this kind of content engine on LinkedIn. Right. And then what you do. is when you're actually reaching out to people, whether it's via LinkedIn DMs or it's on cold email from Sam, right? Then you're not as cold on the cold meter, one to 10, right? Versus a rep that's never heard of the company. It's warm, it's not cold, right? And so, I think here, that is also the point, is that just like organic helps fuel paid, organic also helps fuel your cold and who you are, right? And what you're about, what your company does and all that. And I think people forget that, right? And so coming up with the systems to do that is a little tricky, right? But what most people don't talk about is the most important thing in a cold email is not what's in the email, It's not what the subject line is. It's who it's from. That is the most important part of a cold email. And guess what? If you email me, Chris, I'm like, oh, that's Chris. I'm going to open. I don't care what the subject line is. I don't care what the hell it says inside. Right. But that is what people forget, dude, is that the name on that email is what is most important, right? And if it's a company name and whatever, but if it's from someone I've seen their name before over and over and over again, and this is marketing one-on-one, right? What is marketing one-on-one? You're You're what, you know, what Gary Vee says is like jab, jab, punch or whatever the name of that book is. That's literally it. That's part of the process. So, um, anyways, long story short, going back to it, how you solve cold email is also being in front of people outside of cold email. Right. And I think that is what people forget. And everyone's arguing about like the cold email subject lines and, and, you know, all this stuff, the name is what really matters. It's coming from it. And I'm a true believer in that, right? So I'll give you an example. I have a cold email campaign right now. My reply rate is at 6%, right? Fully automated, no personalization, 6% reply rate, right? I can show you. Now, why do you think that is? Because it's my name showing up to people that are my first degree connections that I'm offering something to, right? Like it's, I mean, in a 6% fully automated reply rate right now, that's insane, right? I don't have to work as hard on the cold email side. I've got other tricks in there to make sure it lands in inboxes, but that's a whole technical thing. But that's what frickin' management. So anyways, hopefully, we're definitely preaching to the choir here on the, get on LinkedIn. For sure. But coming from people that have built great things off of it, right? Anyways, okay, I've got another idea for us. Here's what another arbitrage I think right now is that if everyone's doing it. it's probably not good marketing, right? It's kind of my take. So I think right now, a huge thing that people kind of toy in, but don't take seriously and don't create the right systems and processes around it is affiliates. And I think affiliates, this is what I'm actually doubling down on Distribute. So we're doing this AppSumo launch soon. We're going to get a couple hundred thousand hits and a bunch of users. But we're going to take that, we're going to turn those users into affiliates as well. Now with these affiliates, what most people do is they'll put an affiliate thing on their website and they'll say affiliates, here's our signup form, like good luck, right? But no, there needs to be like affiliate, let's call it enablement. right? And like some companies that are doing this well, that have actually grown their whole business off of this. And again, this is more PLG stuff, right? So it's a little bit, you know, if you're not PLG yet, this is a benefit, but it's these people, if you enable them to be your mini sellers, sellers, right? I think you could have huge success. And so what I'm betting on is if you have good product that people like, Right. That's the first step that you're going to need, obviously. But then if you can build out an affiliate program, these creators, all these people, because we know content is key. How do I double down on that? And I think I'm going to make that bet. Right. Especially if a product with a good brand that people like. And so I'm going to make that bet because one, these people that you can get as affiliates, they're known to be good creators. Right. If you can find the right ones. Now it's finding the right ones. And this is where we get into the systems. You can't just set it up and put a link on your site. I was talking to someone, I don't want to name them because I don't know if they want me to talk about them right now. So I won't name them, but they're like, we treat, we like recruit these affiliates off of YouTube all day long. They like they have a four person team just to recruit affiliates. Right. And they pay their salaries over and over and over and over again. And who are these affiliates? They're just content creators that they make a deal with. They have different levels of affiliates, et cetera. But this is something interesting where I'm like, holy shit, this makes sense. Right. And, you know, I think that some people will dabble in it, but again, not just like I had a distribute now has a link. It's like affiliates. I've never sent one email to these people. And that's shame on me because I haven't taken it seriously. Right. I'm like, oh, they'll just go do their thing. No, they won't. Like you need to handhold people. And so that's where I think the sales motion is changing to. Right.

Chris Walker:
Yeah. Whether it's affiliates for transactional or partners for enterprise, it's generally the same thing. Both of those things are like referral demand capture mechanisms. Whether you're a partner, maybe you have a sales team that's going to co-sell a deal. If you're an affiliate, you're just getting a link and you're referring somebody in for a freemium plan or a $7 a month plan or something like that and taking a commission in perpetuity. Like either one is generally the same thing. It's just a way to leverage External resources as a means to capture demand and then incentivize them financially So yeah, I mean you think about people that are talking about near bound all I'll really get on that train when I see like experience it really working for myself haven't haven't seen that yet, but if I if and when I do then that's when I would start like continue to pump on that and where we have some experiments running more in like the partner area than affiliates. But yeah, I see it as well.

Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, I see that's it is something interesting and we'll see where this where this goes like this is just again big experiment, right? But I think And I think just like we were talking about earlier, like you have to have your, you know, your content market fit, right? Like the right person or the right thing. I think you also have to have the right type of product. Like is a full sales led product going to work on this affiliate train? No. That might be more partner led channel partners, kind of the, you know, that, that motion. But if you do have a straight PLG product, I think that would be work super well.

Chris Walker:
Anything transactional, e-commerce, PLG, or some type of self-serve, anything transactional is the use of affiliates.

Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, yeah. And so I'm thinking on that.

Chris Walker:
The last mile. Yeah.

Andy Mewborn:
How do you do that? And again, this takes volume to really work, but then you have to recruit and all this stuff. So I'm looking for someone that's like really has done this before and really good at it, right? I'm actually working with someone now. But yeah, I think that's another kind of arbitrage channel that's going to come. But again, you need to have the right product, the right channel and all this stuff. So, you know, I think this kind of strategy wise, this is where companies that aren't currently product led growth. that want to become product-led growth, this is one benefit of it, right? People are like, well, why would you become product-led growth? And I'm thinking, well, you can probably build something like this. But here's the thing. Some of these products just are too technical to set up to be product-led growth.

Chris Walker:
It's different building product-led growth when you have two employees versus switching to a product-led growth motion when you have 400 employees. Switching to product-led growth motion with 400 employees can significantly negatively impact or even kill your company if not played the right way. It can delay pipeline and revenue for years. And so, yeah, people should take lots of caution when they think about adding PLG to an existing business. If you're building a business from the ground up and the product is simple to use and it's horizontal or wide with a very large TAM and a lower price and needs to be like the go-to-market has to be transactional at the beginning, then it makes perfect sense. But technical setups, existing companies, Hire a dollar value sales and products are all reasons to to not do it So I think it's more about understanding the situation for your own business There's people that are like pro PLG no matter what and there's people that are not pro PLG no matter what and the the real answer somewhere in the yeah, and I actually was talking to a founder that have a well-known b2b SAS company that a lot of people use and and

Andy Mewborn:
They were talking to me about PLG and their product is, as it stands, it's currently not anything PLG like that you can do. It's a technical back and set up that's required, right? Which now what I say, I said, well, how would you think about this in a PLG motion? I said, honestly, put that product that you currently have in another bucket and create an entirely new product that's PLG that is a stepping stone in your current offering. Right. What's the problem that people have before your current product offering that needs solving? Maybe there's already other products for it. So what? Build it cheaper, make it free. Right. And then basically create that engine to get that product. I would not screw with your current product offering and do that because I think it's a whole different. It is. Like you said, it's kind of like common sense marketing. It's a whole different strategy. Don't screw up your if it's if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Right. We should create a new category called common sense marketing. But, uh, so anyways, I told him, no, build this other product. Here's an idea I have for you. That's completely free, right? Make that product free. It'll probably take you a couple of engineers, a few months to do right. Like sure. You're going to. With that, you're going to, you know, the cost to build a hundred K you're going to put in there. But if that gets you to fuel, basically these people that are ideal clients using this free product offering, that's your way in the door. You're essentially building, you're going from a trust level of one now. And I always look at this like I'm a trust scale and I'm kind of like selling sales, you know, but like. If you look at the trust scale of one to 10 and getting someone in a sales led motion to go from one to 10, that's why these sales like motions take so long, right? You have to be like, will this work? Does it produce results? Is there ROI? But if you have that free product offering before some product offering, you know, PLG product offering, you can get them from a one to a three or four or five on the trust level scale. And then you just need to make the jump from five to 10. Right now, this is part marketing, part product strategy. Right. But I think this is overall go to market strategy in essence. Right. And so I think there is where we're going to start to see people make this change. And I'll tell you this for Taplio, how we got to a million in revenue in nine months. Right. On a on a B2C software product, which is very difficult to do. We did exactly that. We said, oh, here's a we did 10 different lead magnet tools. Literally, I think it was like 10. and got people into the funnel. And then we said, Hey, then what was the next step? So a free carousel generator, for example, we did a creep free carousel generator. Hey, you want to make a LinkedIn carousel, put posting your, make a Twitter thread, post the link, and we'll do a free LinkedIn carousel for you. After the generated, what do you think we asked them to do? Schedule it with TapWheel, right? So how do you do that with your product, right? That gets them a stepping stone. So I think we're going to see a lot more of that. One thing I want to invest in as we go through this, and I kind of like that we're talking here because it's like a building public-esque kind of thing, which is I'm having a head of engineering come on. And what we're going to literally do, like part of what his role is going to be is build, like half his time is not going to be building the actual product. It's going to be building actual lead magnets that we get to fuel people into the product. And he's all in for it because he knows distribution is king. So what I would say for companies that have enough resources, I know this is difficult. I come from a bootstrap. We did just raise money. But something interesting to think about is how can you have an engineer and a product person get together and build these basically stepping stone products that are highly valuable and free or cheap and get them into your thing? And I think that's going to be a whole department. I think it's going to be like the Before it used to be called, what do you call those departments that are straight experimentation, like your labs or something like that. But there's going to be an engineer in there that's full time, let's call it growth marketing, growth hacking or whatever, that they're basically making a bunch of bets on multiple products that get people to see them into their bigger platform offering. Um, that's the way if I was running a straight sales led company right now, and I was like, holy shit, we need to do PLG or we need to figure out pipeline. I would double down on that shit right now. Like I would, I would just say, do that like that and do that super well. That is your freaking arbitrage. Make good products that are exist, make them free and give them away. All right. Um, and I'm not all about like give everything away for free, but that in order to get to your main offering. Yes. Anyways, I'll stop freaking, I get passionate about this shit, so anyways. What do you think, Chris?

Chris Walker:
What do you think, man? Dude, I don't even know how to comment on that. Like, yeah, there's a bunch of arbitrages out there.

Andy Mewborn:
Anyways, I'm getting nerdy. I'm getting nerdy, man. Let's end this with asking you, okay, Something that people want to know, we talked about your LinkedIn kind of strategy overall. I think something that would be interesting, Chris, is I see you on video all the time and I'm wondering, is he actually like podcasting with people or is it a webinar where you have a bunch of people on? Or like, this is a lot, this is an interesting question. What's the form? Do people just submit questions to you and then you're answering them via video? Like what the heck is going on? And let's end on this now.

Chris Walker:
Yeah, we have the dark social content flywheel where we have a weekly live event that a live audience comes every single week. And so we do that. Those people then ask live questions and I answer those questions. So that episode creates a long-form podcast and YouTube video. Then we cut that up. It creates short-form video for TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube Shorts, and the other ones that we decide. Then we get the insights and the comments from those posts and then the insights and the comments that we get from the live event. And then we decide to do another live event and then we do a flywheel every week. And so it's a way that I spend three to four hours a week creating content and have content to publish all the time. All the time.

Andy Mewborn:
And that's your main engine right now, right? Like that is the main engine.

Chris Walker:
That's the main engine and having the live audience on the event, uh, gives you confidence that the topics you're talking about are relevant and important and that you get real time feedback about what, if what you're saying resonates with people and is valuable to them. And so just sitting back with you and someone else talking on a podcast about the things that you think people want to know, or it's, I've just found it's a lot more productive to have people live on there for me and see what's going on.

Andy Mewborn:
I like that. I might steal something like that, but we'll see. We'll see how that's done. But, dude, this has been amazing, man. We got two minutes here, so we'll wrap it up. Yeah. Let's wrap it up with there's three different offerings that you have right now that you're helping people with marketing on. What are those three? So people know what's up.

Chris Walker:
So we have an offer that we help companies of all sizes with, which is basically a B2B digital agency that combines demand generation, paid media execution, and creative and content into one offer that helps companies create and capture demand. We have what we call revenue sciences, which some people would look at as revenue operations right now, but it's a much more strategic thing than what I see happening in practice, where we get CRM data, we run it through a standardized process and data model, and then we give companies back key insights that they would never get on their own. And then we have a research and advisory product where CMOs and other executives can get access to the information that we have that we've collected over working with more than 250 companies to make smarter go-to-market decisions with confidence and clarity. There we go. So those are the three things that we help companies with and looking forward to keep building.

Andy Mewborn:
Yes, my friend. Yes, my friend. Amazing. Well, Chris, it's been a pleasure, my friend.