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How Lessonly grew marketing ROI 10X by cutting MQLs in half Ft. Kyle Lacy (Inbound Success, Ep. 155)

How Lessonly grew marketing ROI 10X by cutting MQLs in half Ft. Kyle Lacy (Inbound Success, Ep. 155) Blog Feature

August 10th, 2020 min read

Most marketers consider a decrease in MQLs to be a bad thing, but for Lessonly CMO Kyle Lacy, cutting MQLs in half led to a 10X increase in marketing ROI.

Kyle LacyThis week on the Inbound Success podcast, Lessonly CMO Kyle Lacy explains how his team achieved a 10X increase in marketing ROI by redesigning the company's website, redefining what constituted a marketing qualified lead, and refocusing the efforts of the sales team. 

It's a case study that holds lessons (no pun intended!) for anyone who is using inbound marketing to drive organic growth.

Check out the full episode to learn what Kyle and his team did, and how you too can apply this approach to get better results with your own marketing.

Resources from this episode:

 

Kyle Lacy and Kathleen Booth
Kyle and Kathleen recording this episode

Transcript

Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth. And my guest this week is Kyle Lacy, who is the chief marketing officer at Lessonly. Welcome to the podcast, Kyle.

Kyle (00:27): Thanks for having me.

Kathleen (00:28): Yeah, it is a, it is a funny time to be, to be doing these podcasts with everybody stuck at home and, and interesting stories of trying to work with, with dogs and children and spouses and construction noise and all the things that happen when you're stuck working from home. I will say I have two dogs in my office, so they may bark while we're talking.

Kyle (00:49): I also have a dog who may bark.

Kathleen (00:52): Yup. We're just going to roll with it. I'm sure everybody who's listening is dealing with the same thing. No, I was really looking forward to talking with you. I've been following, I think your career for a while now, since I became part of a group online that you're in. And I'm really fascinated by the work you're doing with Lessonly. So maybe before we jump into that, you could take a minute and tell my listeners a little bit more about who you are, what Lessonly is and how you came to be doing what you're doing.

Kyle (01:21): Yeah, sure. I'll spare the early career comments mainly just because I worked at an agency, I started an agency and then I failed miserably. So I think that's another podcast for another time.

Kathleen (01:35): Had I, I had an agency for 11 years. Yes!

Kyle (01:39): Mine was five and it, we did okay and then it started going downhill. But because of that agency, I had the opportunity to go work for a software company in Indianapolis called ExactTarget. And at the time ExactTarget was the largest email service provider in the world, email marketing platform. I was, I was one of, I think 600 people hired that year in 2012, but it was my first foray into software. And it's where I fell in love with software. So I spent three years at ExactTarget where we ran, I ran content marketing as well as the thought leadership team there. And we IPO'd, bought by Salesforce. Spent a year at Salesforce. Realized that the large corporate company was not for me even though, to be very clear, Salesforce, Salesforce is large. Corporate culture is not what you would expect.

Kyle (02:32): It's actually really cool. I just could not, I could not work in a, in a company of 20,000 people. I realized that I wanted to be a marketing leader. I definitely wanted to be a CMO sometime in my future. So the best bet for me, I believed, was to go work for a venture capital firm. And they recruited, a company called O-, firm called OpenView Boston, which is, they have a little over a billion under management and they invest in series B, series C in B2B software companies. Spent two years there. Basically got my MBA in software. I mean, it's the best learning you can possibly do is to be on the other side of the table, especially with the venture capital firm. And Lessonly was looking for a market leader. And Lessonly is based in Indianapolis. My wife and I wanted to move back from Boston. And it just made sense. Lessonly was a portfolio company of OpenView and everybody that was important to my network was involved at Lessonly. So I've been at Lessonly now for three and a half years and started as the VP of Marketing and now Chief Marketing Officer.

Kathleen (03:39): That's great. And tell me a little bit more about what Lessonly does.

Kyle (03:43): Lessonly is training software for sales and customer service teams. So everybody from large telecom companies to small software companies.

Kathleen (03:51): Great. And, and you had an interesting year. One of the reasons I was fascinated to talk with you is that you were telling me last year, you guys actually cut the number of marketing qualified leads you were bringing in, intentionally. I feel like when you talk to marketers, that's not normally something they set out to do, but you set out to do that. And that resulted in actually a big jump in revenue for the company. So I want to pick this apart and, and I guess start with like, why, why did you set out to reduce your number of MQLs?

Kyle (04:25): It was kind of haphazard, to be honest with you. We, we knew that we had to blow up and redesign our website from the ground up in August of 2018, because we started seeing a drop in organic traffic because our site load time was just pathetic. And so Google was starting to ding us on load times on the pages of our site. So when we overhauled it, we were looking at our marketing qualified lead definitions and realized that, I realized something that I hope most marketers realize in the near future, is that it was pretty much BS, right? Like we were sending, we were working thousands of MQLs, and you could be breathing and becoming a marketing qualified lead for Lessonly. Right? And so what we basically said was, we're going to get rid of all of our forms, all of our content downloads, except for a few.

Kyle (05:16): And then our demo form is going to be the main form on the site. So if you fill out a form and you use a work email for a demo, you become a marketing qualified lead. So you can imagine that we cut them, I mean, it was over 80%, I think, of our SQLs. And the one thing that that did was that it highly qualified the people we were sending to the inbound team, the inbound SDR team. It also allowed us to spend more time working those deals. And it, it created a closer alignment between sales and marketing because sales actually started trusting the inbound opportunities that were being sent over. So for us, what happened was we cut MQLs over half and for over a year we four to five X'd inbound revenue that was direct sourced from our website.

Kyle (06:17): And it was pretty much the, the idea that, hey, marketing should own a revenue number and all this crap about, hey, we influenced revenue, which most marketers talk about. I think it was just complete BS. It's like, yeah, you should influence a hundred percent of closed revenue. Like you're marketing. Yeah. I don't care if it's expansion. I don't care if it's net new revenue. Right. So for us it was, it was, it was the opportunity to control our destiny when it came to what we were direct sourcing. And we significantly improved revenue just because we've cut down.

Kathleen (06:53): So this topic is particularly interesting to me because it may or may not be hitting home. It's just something I'm dealing with at the moment. I've always been a big believer in ungating stuff, by the way. Like I always, every time I've done it, I've, I've seen actually conversion rates have, if anything, gone up because people like to see the content and they're like, Oh, now it's totally worth getting, you know, giving you my email address. So I, I've never had a problem with ungating content and removing a lot of forms and things like that. What I think is interesting is that, and I'm dealing with something similar to what you described right now with the company I'm at, where historically the sales team, you know, has, has been handed every single person that converts on anything on the website, as a lead, which in my book is not your, it's not a lead.

Kathleen (07:43): As you say, if they have a pulse, they're a lead in that scenario. And, and I'm working towards doing something kind of similar to what you described. But what I think is interesting, being in the middle of it is, you know, there's the whole notion of buy-in that needs to happen at that early stage. Because it's one thing as a marketing leader to be like, I'm going to do this. I'm going to like remove all these forms and, or I might have forums, but I'm not going to pass the names of the people who fill them out over to sales. Like for me, it's a contact us or a request a quote form for you. It was a demo form. You know, when that first happens, I don't have to tell you your conversions go down. Your sheer number of people converting goes down and on paper that can look really bad. And I know, you know, I've gotten comments like why have our leads decreased, what's happening, what's wrong with our marketing. And so I'm curious when you guys decided to do this, how did you navigate in that early stage, the communication around, and did you, I don't know, did you like, did you start out by saying this is what's going to happen? And here's why, and here's why it's okay. Like how did that work?

Kyle (08:51): Yeah, what we tried to do is we had a lot of conversations with the sales team, especially myself and the directors of sales and our president who basically is our chief revenue officer and, and our CEO. We had a CRO at the time as well, actually, if I remember correctly and we just had long conversations around that, like, here's, what's happening now, everyone, your conversion, I don't care what the lead to MQL conversion rate is. I care about what the MQL to opportunity created conversion rate is, and it is terrible right now. So what we want to do is while we decrease MQL is what we did was we just forecast it out. We said, all right, if we take our best qualified MQL, here's what the conversion rate could potentially be over the course of the fiscal year. And here based off of our average contract value and our conversion rates, here's what we can expect and would still like, it still was rough.

Kyle (09:50): The first three months, the first couple quarters, three to six months after we did it. But what happened was once we got through our sales cycle and found that more revenue was converting, more, a more reps were getting to quota. It's, it, it became more aligned. We also move the BDR and SDR teams under marketing. So we were forcing alignment because marketing was controlling 70% of meetings for the sales reps outside of there, outside of the channel and partnerships and like referrals and self source, like those other, those other channels. The one thing I will say, which, which we can put a pin in and talk about later, if it's not, if it's not contributing to this conversation, but we have found that, that at a certain point of scale, it's really important that you're building a database, even if you're not handing the people off to sales.

Kyle (10:51): And I think that's a mistake that I don't know if it was a mistake necessarily. But we are now is trying to figure out, all right, now we need, we've got to scale pretty significantly outside of our scope. And because we let all these people just read content and didn't download it, then we don't have a place for them to, we don't have, we don't have a database for us to park it to. Now, the other side of the coin was say, well, you influence them. They're going to come back when they're ready. It's just really hard to play it around that.

Kathleen (11:27): Yeah, no, I think it's totally germane to this conversation because it really speaks to the whole, like the whole construct of how we think about the people that are in our sphere of influence, right? Like I think as marketers, we're trained to use the word lead to refer to anybody who converts, but really there's, to me, there's like a lead and then there's just a contact, you know?

Kyle (11:54): And I think that, I think the difference is, what I'm finding is that in the first, especially for SaaS companies in the first between one, and let's say 10 to 20 million, 10 to 15 million in revenue to be very surgical in your go to market, you have a very specific group of people. And I think after that, when you're trying to grow it 70 to a hundred percent off of 20 million revenue, you've got to build a community of people. So it's like a, it's, it's, it's, it's moving more thought leadership oriented into the market, instead of it being very, very tactical and surgical. I think those are the two that's the transition that we're making.

Kathleen (12:36): Yeah. And I guess the question becomes like, how is there a way for you to lay the groundwork for that scale in the early stage, without compromising what you're doing?

Kyle (12:46): Yeah. I think gong, gong, gong.io is a great example of a company that's done that they, they did not send over an MQL or whatever, a contact that filled out a form for an ebook. They never sent it to anybody. It was, it was just a newsletter, right? They were telling them about their webinars. Like it was never sent to sales until it hit, you know, till they hit it. I'm assuming they had a specific score and then it's sent over to sales and then if they need a demo or something.

Kathleen (13:18): The other thing I guess, that I, that I wonder about as you decided to make this change is is the whole culture of sales within the company. And it's interesting that you mentioned you moved BDRs under marketing, because when I think about, you know, the experience I'm having right now of a sales team, that culturally is used to getting these leads that are really just, as you say, like they converted on an ebook or they downloaded a case study. You know, how you follow up on that kind of a lead is, is culturally. Like it builds a culture that's very different than the type of culture you need to be successful in an organization where you're only working. People who've declared their intent. And so maybe, maybe that was solved by moving BDRs over. I don't know, but how did you handle that?

Kyle (14:06): Well, it's the difference between volume and, you know, working, being tactical with deals that actually matter, right? So, you know, our inbound SDRs, they handle all the inbound, inbound demo requests and chat on the website. That's definitely a volume play. Our BDRs are more surgical, right? They are they're outbound. And they they have specific accounts that they're were reaching out to based off of our ICP. So it's, it's mostly around the outbound sales effort that then hands these opportunities over to the account executives, they know exactly the accounts they need to hit. We give them lists, there's re like we have ads going out like that. It's a very account based marketing approach. They're inbound, it's organic, it's Google ads. So it's more volume. So an account executive that has to deal with everything from an ebook download, which is what shows no intent whatsoever, other than, Hey, I'm interested in whatever you wrote about to somebody that is, is working demos. It's a very different account executive and account executives in my mind, other than their ability to self source, which they should is there. They need to move a demo through the sales funnel to close one, not try to figure out if these 500 ebook downloads are actually worth anything, because that's why we have Marketo. That's why we have HubSpot. That's why marketers are good at personalization and working deals that and, and, and pushing them through the pre sales motion before they're ready for a demo.

Kathleen (15:48): Yeah. I think though it can also create a terrible prospect experience. If you just like you're on the website for the first time you convert on an ebook and all of a sudden you have somebody trying to hard sell you. It's not, it's not a great experience.

Kyle (16:00): Yeah. Imagine, imagine being well, we're all consumers, right? Imagine going to Wayfair and like down like reading a guide on how to clean the certain couch that you want. And you've got a sales rep, like emailing you, asking you like, Hey, do you want to come see the couch? Do you want to come see the couch store? I could see the couch. Like, it'd be terrible. So the way that we think about it as let's try to, let's try to be as consumer marketing oriented as possible, right. Let's make the buying experience as easy as we possibly can and try not to force the people because people, I don't know why we, we thought that was a good idea to begin with.

Kathleen (16:38): So I always like to say that, like, as you say, we're all, we're all people, we're all buyers in our lives, but for some reason we come to work and we put this marketing hat on and we forget everything that it is to be a human being. We do the opposite, right.

Kyle (16:52): Experience is all that matters experiences that either have a good experience or a bad experience. And you're going to choose to buy based off of that.

Kathleen (16:59): Yeah. So you, you, this was prompted by the need to redo the website and that gave you a window of opportunity to change your approach. And you were removing a lot of your forms and really then kind of relying on the people that filled out a demo request for your MQL. I would assume that there, that you did some things on the website to try and really ease the path for people to get to that demo request a motion. So can you talk a little bit about that? How did you optimize for that?

Kyle (17:32): Yeah. The biggest thing we did was a product tour. We built a product tour. If you go to Lessonly.com/tour, or I think, or you can go to the main page where it has the tour button it, you pick which use case you are, are you a customer service? Are you sales, are you talent and then walks you through the product and then you can sign up for a demo.

Kathleen (17:53): So is that product tour different based on the use case? So you're speaking to - okay.

Kyle (17:58): Like a business outcome oriented basically. Right. So, you know, a sales, sales and customer service use cases are going to be somewhat some of the different, right. So that was the main thing other than just rebuilding the site. So it loaded correctly all the time. Right. Like, and, and redoing the brand and cleaning it up and just things that we had wanted to do. But that was the main thing was that products who were, and we created a demo video. It was a two minute demo video that you watch after you fill out the form.

Kathleen (18:29): So this is an interesting question. And I get this sometimes from people like um, the role of having an on demand mini demo video versus like an actual guided demo over the phone or zoom, or what have you from a sales rep, how do you think about, like, what, what place, what role do all of those individual things fill and how do they fit together?

Kyle (18:52): I mean, we just, I don't, honestly, I don't really know. I do know that we wanted to give somebody something after they filled out the form to kind of wet their appetite before they had a call with an AA. And I think that there's, there's, we definitely could do click rate optimization tests and say, and tests like whether or not the demo video should be included after the forms filled out. Right. But for us, it is you go through products or you fill out a form, you have the opportunity to watch the video if you want. But then the goal is, is that our inbound SDR is going to try to get at you on a call with an account executive. And sometimes they do a demo walkthrough. Like sometimes they do a software walkthrough on the first call. Sometimes it's a second call. It depends on the discovery that happens on that first call with the account executive.

Kathleen (19:42): Yeah. So talk to me a little bit about numbers. You started from where you started to where you got to with these changes, what was the impact and how did it, how did it evolve?

Kyle (19:55): I mean, we, we saw, we saw, I mean, it took about three months. So moving our, you know, we redesigned the site, we were done in September. We launched it end of September. And we started seeing revenue impact by January, February. Cause our, well, yeah, January, February, cause our sales cycle is 30, 60, 90 days. And it's over the holiday as well, which, you know, impacts all sales. But so by, by the end of last year, 2019, I mean, we had, we had went with four to five X to inbound revenue, closed won revenue because of, and it was because of that change. And it was because we just decided that, Hey, inbound reps are going to focus on the things that matter. And the rest of it's going to be automated.

Kathleen (20:48): And your MQLs were cut by half. Is that right?

Kyle (20:50): Yeah. If not more than that.

Kathleen (20:52): Okay. I'm trying to do the math now. And I'm definitely not a big math person, four to five X increase in inbound revenue, 50% decrease in MQL. So that's like a 10 X ROI.

Kyle (21:04): Yeah. Yup.

Kathleen (21:07): In three to four months.

Kyle (21:09): Well, no, I'm sorry. We, it, it was over the year, but we saw, we saw like we were doing five X, the revenue in Q four of 2019. They, what we were doing in Q4 of 2018.

Kathleen (21:23): Wow.

Kyle (21:24): So it's actually, it's actually more than that. You could tell on my, my, my teammates would tell me that I am not the math wizard.

Kathleen (21:34): Yeah. This is why we all went into marketing, which sadly now has become a math game.

Kyle (21:39): If we were doing 200 grand in Q4, we were doing our Q4 2018. We were doing a million in Q4 of 2019 as an example to dumb down the math, but it was, it was significant and it was a step. It was a stair-step right. It was a stair-step Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, to do that in 2019. But it was because of the website overall.

Kathleen (22:04): Now, did you put in place anything new to nurture the folks that were downloading the eBooks, but that you now are no longer passing over to sales?

Kyle (22:16): No, because we didn't, we didn't have any ebook downloads. And then we start, what we have been doing though, is starting to build nurture tracks and using, I think we moved over to Marketo beginning of last year. I don't know. It's all new. It's all

Kathleen (22:33): Right. 2020 is it feels like 10 years long. So of course,

Kyle (22:38): So it's, so yeah, we have nurture tracks running and, and we're, we're kind of evolving our marketing playbook now to say, we need to introduce webinars series. We need to introduce some things that are more database building, where we can just hit people randomly with content, because we have really good content, right. We spend tons of time and energy on this content. So we might as well start sending it out on a regular basis because before that we weren't, which is why my point before on the surgical go to market compared to the community building side. So we're lucky that we had thought leadership going on for the past two years with a book that our CEO wrote. So now it's, now it's up to us to say, all right, let's continue growing this community and, and 10 X that community instead of the revenue, it, but we hope that both of them happen. Right. I mean, that's yeah.

Kathleen (23:29): Yeah. I would love to talk about that for a minute. So as you make that mental shift, you know, you've done the website, you've, you've narrowed down your definition of an MQL, and now you're focused on community building and, and getting a larger audience really to get your content in front of how are you thinking about tackling that?

Kyle (23:49): Oh man, it's it's testing. I mean, it's testing for our, for my team on the demand side is like bread and butter. I mean, as we do it constantly, so it's testing, it's, it's introducing a webinar series, it's introducing webinars series with paid ads behind them to make, you know, to drive signups it's testing on what a monthly or weekly email newsletter would do. It's testing. Like, should we sponsor sponsor more virtual events where we're not necessarily working those leads, but building more of a database, what do we do with all the contacts that are already in our Salesforce instance? Right. So I think, I think the, for the next six months for us, it is testing. It's trying to, like we did, we sponsored morning brew the newsletter at the beginning of the year, and that went really well. And that was great. We loved it. So it's like doing those types of things to say, all right, let's dip our toe in the water. What should we do with analysts? Right. Which should we do with analysts firms, with the Gartners, with the Forresters of the world. And that's something that we had discussed in the past, but we're really putting pen to paper now and implementing it.

Kathleen (25:00): And do you have an actual, like, formal community in the sense that, okay, and where is it?

Kyle (25:07): Yeah, we do. It's called Llama Nation and it's actually a customer community. We have not opened it up externally. And as of right now, we have no plans to do that at the moment. And it lives on a, it's a mobile app.

Kathleen (25:22): So now you just gave me the perfect segue, because one of the things I wanted to talk about in this podcast interview was the llama. Because I, I love what you've done with it. And there are, I'm sure are people listening who are like, what the heck are they talking about with a llama? So maybe you could explain why llamas are significant when we talk about Lessonly.

Kyle (25:46): Well, I mean, it was, it was before my time that Ali llama showed up at Lessonly, but it was basically a chalkboard drawing that just kept showing up and the cofounders were like, we're not going to have llamas as a mascot. They kept putting it off. They kept putting it off and all, he just kept showing up. Ali's the name of our llama. And so eventually it just became part of the culture. And that led to a cus, a employee award called the golden llama that we give out quarterly to an employee the best best lives our values as a company. And then it turned out, and then when I came to Lessonly, we decided just to double down on it in all of our marketing, our 404 pages, our direct mail, it all includes Ali the llama.

Kyle (26:38): And it has worked extremely well for a lot of reasons. I think one of them was just llamas became cool in 2019. Target released a llama line. Like you could go find little, little gold figurines at Target of llamas. Like it just became pop culture. Right. It was. And so we, we just doubled down on it. And the one thing that we did that worked extremely well was that we took the golden llama and scaled it and said, we want to send gold llamas out to prospects. Right. And our director marketing, Ben Bataglia had that idea one day. It's like, why don't we just send golden llamas prospects? And so we bought, there's this company up in Northern Michigan that produces these three inch llama figurines that I think we've probably kept them in business for like two years. But we bought, we bought 500 of them. I spray painted 500 llamas, golden llamas, and I'm pr-, I'm probably going to die young just because I inhaled it.

Kathleen (27:38): So many gold spray paint fumes.

Kyle (27:40): So we, and we started sending them out and all it was, was a box of the golden llama. And it had a card in it that said that, Hey, we get, it told the story of, of what we do with the golden llama at Lessonly. Lessonly gives this to a teammate that exhibits the values of your company. Had nothing to do with the product, have nothing to do about Lessonly. It was just recognize a teammate for great work. And we've sent out three to 4,000 of these llamas since 2018. And it is, it's just a fun way to, to tell the Lessonly story. So we use it in direct mail where we will dress up plush llamas with racing gear, for reaching out to a racing company, or we'll put them in a Ford truck and direct mail. And for trying to, if we're trying to get into Ford motor company, so we involve the llama in everything, everything we do.

Kathleen (28:34): I love that. What is the response then?

Kyle (28:37): Oh, it's been great. I mean, it's cute. Number one, I have a very talented group of designers, right? I mean, we do, we do some great stuff. It's not corny. It's just cute. It, it's not overwhelming. I think there's a lot of times people use mascots where you show up on the homepage and it's like the mascots right in your face. And you know, it's subtle, but it works because it, it makes sense. I don't know how best to explain it other than we did a very good job implementing it. And we have right now, not sure when, when we're going to publish this, but at this, at this moment, we're recording. We have Better Work Week, which is an entire week at Lessonly, that's devoted to celebrating people that do great work. And we had a zoom call on Monday where all the actual Ali llama showed up to the zoom call.

Kathleen (29:31): That's awesome.

Kyle (29:32): Ali llama lives in a farm out in New York state, upstate New York.

Kathleen (29:38): So what advice would you give to somebody who was thinking they wanted to incorporate a brand mascot?

Kyle (29:48): Man, I, I, I was very lucky that I inherited Ali when I got to Lessonly and my, at ExactTarget, we had a color, it was orange. We didn't have a mascot. So I think that the only the thing that I know works out of those two instances is make sure that your internal community, your stakeholders, your teammates, and your customers get involved first, it's gotta be cultural. And it has to be loved by employees and by customers before you could ever bring it to market to say, Hey, this llama was part of our culture. So the goal, like the llama at Lessonly for the first three or four years, it was just an award. And it took that long. And then we said, all right, let's, let's, let's introduce it to everybody else. And it worked because the employees believed in it. And the same thing went with the orange culture at ExactTarget.

Kyle (30:51): You went through an orange onboarding, right, as an employee. And it didn't matter if we were 2000 employees, everybody understood what orange meant and because of that, it seeped into the customer base. And because the employees loved it, the customers loved it. The customer's peers loved it. And it created a community outside of just our, our first degree network of employees and customers. So I would say if you're going to do it, make sure that you include people around what the mascot is, what the color is, what the mission is, right. Get a committee of people that are involved and then start introducing it into the internal culture of the company. And if it hits and it works, then you can talk about introducing it outside of it.

Kathleen (31:34): That's good advice. Yeah. We we have, the Attila's logo has always been a gorilla who's named Attila the gorilla. So that's one of the things that I've been like, trying to figure out is what do we do with Attila? So there may or may not have been a little selfish inspiration behind that.

Kyle (31:52): Well, you got, I mean, you can, you can introduce a ton of stuff like plush gorillas, like just things stickers that people can put on there. Like there's just a lot that, that you could do with that to see if, and as long as you're not forcing it, then, you know, people should like it.

Kathleen (32:09): Yeah. Well, fascinating story again. I love, I love what you're doing and there's so much creativity behind it. And I can't wait to kind of see where you take it with Lessonly. Especially as you look to build your audience. I'm gonna just shift gears for a second. There are two questions I ask all of my guests. And I'm curious to hear what you have to say, especially because you've had this interesting combination of like agency, VC and operator background. This podcast is all about inbound marketing. And is there a particular company or individual that you think is really like setting the standard for what it means to be a great inbound marketer right now?

Kyle (32:48): Man, I, I I've been, there are two that I respect a lot, but they're there, they're usually the ones that people say, which I, so, so I'll give you three.

Kathleen (33:03): Alright deal.

Kyle (33:04): So Dave Gerhardt at Privy is probably the best inbound marketer that I know hands down. I steal things from him all the freaking time. And my team steals things from Privy's team all the time. Anthony Kennada, who was the COO of Gainsight and is now a COO at Front, he, he is extremely good at category creation that then drives the inbound for sure. And the other one's Kathyrn Loheide, who was VP of marketing at Formstack and Formstack is a local company in Indie, the remote, like a remote culture. But she is, she is the, one of the better demand gen leaders. Well, Mar I mean, marketing, I'm not even gonna, I'm not gonna say she's, she's a marketing leader. Like she has all the facets, but she's very good at the demand gen side of it. Very good at the process and the science side of it. I just can't get her to get on a podcast with me. She's too busy working, right?

Kathleen (34:06): Yeah. Well, that's always the challenge with the good ones and that's, those are really good ones actually. So I have interviewed Dave Gerhart and I totally agree with you. And funny enough, his is the name that comes up the most for a reason, obviously. But I didn't, I haven't heard of the other two. So I love when I get those answers. Cause now I have two new ones to go check out as does everyone who's listening and maybe I could convince them to come on podcast. Although it sounds like Kathryn, probably not. Cause you're gonna hear.

Kyle (34:32): Yeah, I can. I can, I can, I can try to set that up. But I would say like the, the marketers that have the ability to scale companies are the great marketers. Anthony is an example of somebody that was early in his career and helped Gainsight scale to a hundred million dollars in six years. And there are very few people that can do that. And it, it shows a lot of rigor, a lot of process and a lot of creativity and those people should be continuously celebrated because there are very few that will stick with a company that long to see it through most of the time you see people jumping every one or two years, but the great marketers in my opinion, will stick around and try to try to push people past their comfort zones to grow revenue

Kathleen (35:18): Well, and I agree with you because it's also a very special person who is able to be successful as the company scales, because I have found, and you talked about like liking to work for a smaller company versus a bigger company. You know, some, sometimes it's just people, people don't like to be in those, like you get bigger and by definition, they're not happy in that environment. So somebody who is able to like chameleon-like shift and be successful in all of those situations, that's really unique.

Kyle (35:47): Absolutely. As long as long as you know that the time to leave, if you force it and the company struggles because you're forcing it then you need to make the decision it's fine to move companies. Every two or three years, sophomore is not an easy job, right? It's very stressful. It's very fast paced and it's okay, but you need to know like, Hey actually, somebody I'm a shareholder, you know, and Anthony said this on a conversation I just had with him on he's he's a shareholder of a company. He wants the best person in that role to grow the company bigger than what he did, but he had the, he had the wherewithal and the personal insight and integrity to say, it's my time to move on and do this again at front from Gainsight, because he knew that somebody would be better at this next stage of the company's growth.

Kathleen (36:45): That's great. I love that story. All right. Second question. The biggest pain point I hear from marketers is that digital marketing is changing so quickly that trying to keep up as like drinking from a fire hose. So how do you personally keep yourself educated and, and stay on the cutting edge?

Kyle (37:04): I actually disagree with that comment. I don't think that it's changing that dramatically. I think that marketers who try to figure out how Tik Tok and drive leads are just looking at the next shining object. There is nothing has changed since I've been, I joined ExactTarget and I've been doing digital marketing for 15 years. Nothing's really changed. Email ads, direct mail events. So maybe, maybe social is more of a communications play, right? Like it's not changed that much organic. So, you know, I think that, that I think you have to get, you have to truly, we spend way too much time chasing these new things. And we don't try to understand how customers are buying our prospects and want to buy, right. And it might be that you just need a great email newsletter to drive our business. And you don't need to try to figure out how to build an AI artificial intelligence engine on the front of your website to change content based off of who's visiting, which I think is really cool, but you know, maybe you don't need that and you don't need to chase the shiny objects and you you're, you aren't selling, you know, a product to a bunch of tweens, right.

Kyle (38:24): And if that's the case, then you need to understand how tweens buy right now. Right. So that, sorry, I'm on a soap box. But that being said, if I, the way that I stay in front of things is through the group that you and I are in, which is Revenue Collective. I mean, if you could find a community of people that are, that are the best at what they do that are constantly sharing content with each other, that's where, that's where I learned about things to test.

Kathleen (38:49): Yeah, I totally agree. That's been an amazing group for me as well and well worth it. So check out revenuecollective.com if you want to learn more.

Kyle (38:59): 2010 people were saying email marketing is dead.

Kathleen (39:03): People have been saying email marketing is dead since email started, let's be honest. And I think marketers also like to say things are dead because they know people will read whatever they're about to say.

Kyle (39:13): I mean, I have a, I have a slide deck on my LinkedIn page that says marketing is dead.

Kathleen (39:18): Yes. Everything has died many times, you know? Well this has been so much fun. If somebody wants to learn more about you or connect with you online or learn more about Lessonly, what's the best way for them to do that.

Kyle (39:34): Kylelacy.com. Lessonly.com. I'm on LinkedIn and Twitter, Kyle P Lacey. And that's the best places to find me.

Kathleen (39:43): All right. Well, I will put all those links in the show notes. So if you're interested in connecting with Kyle head over there to check that out. And if you're listening and you learned something new, of course I would love it if you would head to Apple podcasts and leave the podcast a five star review, because that's how other people find us. And if you know somebody else doing kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork because I would love to make them my next guest. That's it for this week. Thank you so much, Kyle.

Kyle (40:11): Thank you for having me.

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