#61: Why We Invested So Much In Our Brand From Day One

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This is a podcast episode titled, #61: Why We Invested So Much In Our Brand From Day One. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. --- Breaking down why we made the decision to invest so much in our brand at Drift early on (and why it doesn't matter that we're a B2B company). PS. Here’s how you can support Seeking Wisdom if you’re a fan of the show: 1. Subscribe. 2. Leave us a five-star review. Here's how: bit.ly/5-Stars-Only. 3. Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter. 4. Learn more about Drift at Drift.com.

David: We're back. We're on another one. I don't even want to know. Okay, so you can't smell this at home, but DC just walked into the studio with a 32 ounce Nalgene bottle filled with what looks like liquid salad.

DC: It's kale, ginger, huge piece of ginger. About the size of my thumb. Let's see what else was in here? Blueberries. Spinach.

David: Okay.

DC: What else? Chia seeds.

David: Tell the people what you're doing.

DC: Trying to go plant- based.

David: Okay.

DC: We talked about inaudible, what's up Rich?

David: What's up Rich?

DC: Great podcast. But I'm trying to go plant based because I'm trying to get into these 32s, size 32 waist. And so I'm trying to eat more and more plants.

David: I talked to you yesterday. Yesterday was Tuesday, off a long weekend. You said you only ate plant- based the whole weekend.

DC: I was feeling great.

David: And you felt great.

DC: Yeah. Tumeric also in here.

David: Oh, tumeric's supposed to be good for you.

DC: Oh yeah. Wonder drug.

David: I heard that works for sore muscles, inflammation.

DC: And a couple almonds.

David: I love it.

DC: Let's go. This is what I'm drinking at 32 ounces.

David: All right. So pardon, if you're listening, you hear some crunching.

DC: That's some bits of kale.

David: I got to tell you, the face he made wasn't really like, this is a raving review.

DC: All right. I'm charged up. I'm ready for you.

David: All right. So here's what we're going to talk about today. This is something I haven't prepped you about, haven't told you about, but we talk about it all the time. I finally want to record this.

DC: I'm scared.

David: It is why we've made the decision to invest so much in brand. And we've got books here, why we made the decision to invest so much in brand. I want to hear your take on this. I have a bunch of notes, help guide us. But basically this is something you and Elias pushed on since day one, since starting the company is whatever we build, brand is going to be such an important thing. Why?

DC: Check out the brand right there. Always be learning.

David: Always be learning. Love that. Oh, by the way, if you hear a little side commentary, all these things, it's because we're on YouTube. So if you're just listening, that's cool. When you get home, go to YouTube, you'll see all these videos here.

DC: Subscribe, hit that subscribe button. We need subs.

David: Hit subscribe, you can actually see the green juice. You'll be able to see it.

DC: Yep. On YouTube and Facebook live, follow us on Facebook.

David: What's the deal with brand and you have always done B2B, marketing companies, who cares? What does brand matter?

DC: Yeah, it didn't before. So we're in this transitionary time. Right? So we were mostly in the early days of SAS, we were dealing in the world of commodities. Right? So we were building commoditize things, but there was scarcity in the system because there weren't many alternatives, many competitors. It was novel for someone like Salesforce to be the first kind of SAS CRM. And they were able to stand alone and build a brand doing that because they were the only ones. They didn't have, like we have today, hundreds, if not thousands of CRM competitors.

David: Crazy.

DC: So brand investment didn't matter. It just mattered that they actually built the product and that they were able to deliver the product to market.

David: Yeah. Or if you go back to old school, Al Reese marketing, right? One of his laws of marketing is there's two ways to be first. You can either be first to the market, physically be first, or you can be first in somebody's mind. And so most businesses to your point, focus just let's be first. If you're first to market, then you own it.

DC: Yeah, exactly. Because there was no competition in the market. You were the only one, you were unique in terms of coming in market. That's a very different time from today where we're dealing with needing to be in that second phase as described by Al Reese, which is you come into any given market, any given niche, is probably a couple, if not tens, if not hundreds of competitors.

David: Go to product. And this is my favorite thing to say, is go to product on any given day and click on a new product that's gotten 500 up votes and a million comments and just scroll. And the second or third comment is always going to be, yeah, well this is cool, but how is this different than X, right?

DC: Exactly.

David: It's always going to be that way. It's impossible to create a new product.

DC: And that's the time that we're living in today. And so in that time, you need to invest in that secondary that Al Reese mentioned, which is developing being first in the mind of the customer. And we do that by investing a lot in brand, which wasn't a topic for most B2B companies, still isn't a topic for most B2B companies, they're pretty alone in that woods. But you see it in the B2C side, you see it in all the consumer packaged good companies. You see it in all the electronic companies, you see it in every other type of company that sells a product, a service, they focus on brand. We're missing that in the B2B side. And we think it's something that will help us stand out in the mind of the customer.

David: And I think the thing that you said is interesting, right? We're here talking about this. This is what we're doing, but I would say still 99% of the companies in the B2B space aren't doing that. And I think the reason why, I think the other thing also has to do with free.

DC: Yep.

David: So when you combine brand with free, that's one plus one equals three is when you take those things and combine them.

DC: Yeah. I think the other thing that's happened and the reason that brand is so important is the explosion of number of channels that your brand or your product needs to be on. Right? And so again, going back 10 years ago and where you could just stand out, be the only competitor or one of very few competitors in a market, and you only have to worry about basically getting traffic from Google or a search engine. So you spend a lot of time on SEO or SEM, in the form of ad words, you spend time on maybe your email campaigns or direct mail campaigns. But now you as a company, as a brand, need to stand out on Instagram, Facebook, Google, YouTube, et cetera, et cetera, Twitter, et cetera, a million different channels out there. And so you need to develop that brand that's going to stand out and be different on all of those channels.

David: And I'm glad you brought up all those channels. I wouldn't have taken it there, but I think that's an interesting point because all those channels today, you have to show yourself, right? You have to show what you really are like as a business and as a company. And so it's really hard to hide if you're on platforms like video and audio and a little bit easier if your only channels are blogging and sales reps.

DC: Yeah. But look at us today, We need to be in the form of books. Right here.

David: We self published our own book. We have a podcast, we have a YouTube channel. We spend time on social.

DC: Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, et cetera. Twitter.

David: Yeah. So there's four people on the marketing team and two of them are designers. Right? And that was the reason we made that decision.

DC: Yeah. We have our blog, we're on Medium. We're in a gazillion different channels that we need to stand out on. And when you're doing that, you need to invest in brand. What's your brand's story across all those things? What's the reason we buy experiences today? We don't pay a premium for commodities and we're coming out of a market that was just totally focused on how do you manufacture and how do you build the best and cheapest commodity? And we're moving to new time where we value brands, niches, and experiences.

David: You got jumping in my seat right now.

DC: He's moving.

David: You said it, you said we buy experiences. Right? But people don't think... People haven't thought of B2B like that, go more on that for a second. What's an example? Just even personally, what's the experience that you've-

DC: Every day. See, I'm drinking this green juice here.

David: Yeah.

DC: I'm buying an experience. I bought some of these veggies at an experience place, which is Whole Foods or my local grocer, a combination of the two. And is the stuff that I bought there different? I'd argue that it is different than let's say Market Basket or the other supermarket that I may visit. But I paid a premium on not only the ingredients and the things that I buy there, but the way that those stores make me feel when I shop there. From everything, from coming into the store, to the way that they communicate, to the way that things are shown and surface in that store. I'm willing to pay a premium for that experience that goes beyond the commoditized item that I'm going to be buying.

David: Yeah. And that's the thing. And this all applies to the business world today. Because if you have that experience and that experience is shitty, guess what's going to happen? You're going to take two steps in the store, see that there's a bunch of stuff spilled on the floor. It smells terrible, there's no service and you're going to walk out and you're going to go next door. That's harder to do in person. It's so easy to do online. I've used this example before, but I was trying to buy some webinar software. They already had my credit card. I was trying to upgrade and in order to do so I had to call sales. So I even called, I left them a voicemail. I didn't hear back for a week.

DC: Yeah. Because that company and that motion that they were running there was based and created on a time where they were selling a commodity. It didn't matter.

David: I had to call them.

DC: Absolutely. So it was their rules. So they could put some crappy contact forms on there, make you jump through hoops and put all the work on to you as the customer, because what they were selling was so scarce and unique that they had all the power, but the power is transitioned to us, the consumer and the customer. And we have all the power now. And so businesses need to make that transition.

David: Totally. And I mean, you were just talking about webinar software, for example. A month ago, you and I were in New York and we got off the plane at JFK and the whole terminal, Jet Blue in JFK was just blanketed with Zoom ads.

DC: Yeah, Zoom got us.

David: Right? Same business model. They have enterprise plan.

DC: Yep.

David: Their enterprise plan starts at$2, 000 a month. Right? It's$ 19 for a minimum of a hundred seats for sales reps that want to use it. But then they have a free model. And so what they've done is they didn't just say it's free, but they've layered on this brand on top of it. And so that's why you see their ad. That's why I used to get off the plane in San Francisco and you'd see the MailChimp monkey. Right?

DC: Yeah.

David: That's why you see all this stuff that's-

DC: Dave, whoa, whoa. Slow down, dude.

David: Oh.

DC: How is Zoom going to measure the effectiveness of those billboards?

David: I don't know. Maybe they have UTM parameters on the billboard.

DC: Hashtags?

David: No, they have a QR code.

DC: QR code? Yeah. They're going to measure?

David: See, I'm glad you mentioned that because this is exactly what people are going to ask. And if you're asking that question, then you're thinking about it wrong.

DC: Woo.

David: And it's true.

DC: That was a quote.

David: You're thinking about it wrong. This is something that we talk about all the time and guess what? I can measure how much our brand is having an impact on our business.

DC: We hear it every day.

David: You have to be okay with the fact that it's not going to be this perfect Google analytics report that you're going to get used to.

DC: With no leakage.

David: Right. But if you want that business and you can go build a traditional, everything is super measurable business. And that's not to say that we don't measure anything. We are more analytical than anybody else I've ever been around, but we care about the right things.

DC: Yep.

David: And also we're able to look at things like how has word of mouth grown over time, right? By looking at our traffic sources, or we're able to look at the virality of our free product, which keeps compounding. And that's the number one thing. And this all goes back to the business model where the reason MailChimp grew so fast, among many reasons that we've talked about on this podcast, is they had millions of people sending emails and each one of those emails in the footer it said, sent by MailChimp.

DC: Or Zendesk or Envision or Dropbox or any of these examples, right? They're all examples of the same thing, which is the power of marrying that free kind of trial, that free experience, which we had for years in the offline world, right? It's called free samples.

David: Free samples.

DC: Come to the store, get a free sample.

David: Go to Costco, get some cheese.

DC: Get some cheese, free samples. And then they layered on the business or the enterprise versions of those plans for people who self- selected into needing those capabilities. And we think that's the future. Whether it's a product that you manufacture or a piece of software that you build or service that you provide.

David: Totally. I think you go look at any business and there's some version of free. And the reason that it has to happen is because everybody's expectations are wait, no, no, no, no. I get all this. I get everything you're saying, but I need to use it. I need to use it for myself. Right? It's why we have free, it's why we also have a free trial. It's why so many B2B SAS companies that didn't use to offer free trials or free versions of their product now have to do that because they know people will just go somewhere else.

DC: Yeah. And the other alternative that exists out there is to build such a powerful brand, like an Apple, where you'd never have to give anything away for free. And it's just built on word of mouth, but that's a brand that's been built over decade after decade after decade. And I don't know about you, but most companies aren't Apple.

David: One thing before we finish up, I just want to go back to the whole how will you measure it thing, for a second.

DC: Wow. I hit a nerve.

David: Yeah. You hit a nerve. Here's how we measure it. I don't know what this means, but at least five times a day, some combination of people on our team get an email saying, we love what you're doing. We read this thing. We use the product. We listen to this podcast. We watch this video. We had this sales call and somebody emails us indirect and just out of the blue says, I just wanted to let you guys know. Or they give us a MPS response that has that. Or they say it on Twitter or they say it in our email.

DC: Or in a five star review.

David: Or a five star review. 210 five star reviews to be specific. I don't know how that's translating into customers and traffic. Right. But it's one of those things where sometimes you have to just believe in your gut a little bit and say, this is why we're doing this. This is the right reason.

DC: Yeah. So if you believe in what we're talking about, if you also value brand, leave us a comment when you leave that five star review today. Only five star review. Just leave the comment. We read all of them. Dave and I read them religiously. Leave us a comment there, shout us out and we'll get back to you and what I'm going to start doing, which I haven't told David, but I surprise Dave on the podcast, is I'm going to start having random giveaways for people who leave five star reviews, whatever review you want. But right now we only have five stars.

David: So don't be the first one.

DC: Don't be the first one. So anyone who leaves a review, for people who subscribe to our Twitter, our YouTube channel and our Facebook page, I'm going to be randomly selecting someone every other week to send the surprise gift.

David: Okay. That's serving leadership at its finest.

DC: So it's random. I'm going to be picking from subscribers, reviewers. Random gift. Can't wait to send you out a little special care package from DC. Don't worry, it won't be this bottle of green juice right here.

David: And look, you could be like Pinkham, Ryan who wrote this five- star review a couple of days ago. I can't tell you how many times there's been an issue my team has been trying to solve. And that exact topic came up on an episode of Seeking Wisdom. I'm part of a team that's trying to build a new business of SAS tools and Seeking Wisdom is constantly providing insight to help us make tough decisions or inspiring us to try the new. So shout out to Pinkham, Ryan. That was amazing.

DC: And if you're building a product or a SAS tool and you want to get free publicity on this podcast, just leave your company name in a review. We'll shout you out.

David: Right. True. So I know Ryan Pinkham, used to work with him at Constant Contact back in the day. Now I'm shouting him out. What's up, Ryan? Yeah. If you put something, put your Twitter handle in there, we'll get you some love.

DC: We'll get you some love. We'll get you some subscribers.

David: All right. So that's thinking about brand.

DC: All right. Let's shout out to Amy who got us on YouTube.

David: Thanks Amy.

DC: Facebook Live. We're blowing up. We got books. We got videos. We have hundreds of five star reviews.

David: Hundreds. Go to drift. com/ hypergrowth and you can get the free book too.

DC: Also let me know if you're plant- based like I'm trying to go, give me some tips.

David: Yeah. I'm interested in this. Help him out. Inspiration.

DC: All right. We're out.

David: We're out.


If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. --- Breaking down why we made the decision to invest so much in our brand at Drift early on (and why it doesn't matter that we're a B2B company). PS. Here’s how you can support Seeking Wisdom if you’re a fan of the show: 1. Subscribe. 2. Leave us a five-star review. Here's how: bit.ly/5-Stars-Only. 3. Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter. 4. Learn more about Drift at Drift.com.