Traffic Lead Generation and Connecting To Your Target Market w/Dave Gerhardt

Waverley Knobs presents the Branch-Out Podcast with your hosts, Evin Charles Anderson and Tatiana Ivan. We discuss all the exciting facets of digital media and marketing for businesses and professionals. Our goal is to empower you so you can increase your knowledge, engagement, and brand identity. Let’s get ready to branch out.

Traffic Lead Generation transcript from Dave Gerhardt podcast episode - Waverley Knobs - Boston and Los Angeles

Listen to the full interview or read the transcript below:

Find Dave here:

Tech in Boston
Drift

Twitter:
@davegerhardt 
@techinboston

EVIN ANDERSON:
Hosting with me today is Derek Sawaya, and our special guest is Dave Gerhardt, who is the host of the podcast Tech In Boston, which you can check out at techinboston.co. And he’s also the growth marketing lead at Drift. How’s it going, Dave?

DAVE GERHARDT:
It’s going awesome. Thanks for having me.

EVIN ANDERSON:
We look forward to you teaching us a little bit more about the podcast, as well as maybe give some insights into all the entrepreneurial and startup communities within Boston.

DAVE GERHARDT:
It’s fun to be on the other end of this for once, so …

EVIN ANDERSON:
Well actually, what my first question is, is how did you come up with the original concept of the podcast, Tech In Boston? What really kind of motivated you, that final decision maker to say, “You know what? I need to do this.”

DAVE GERHARDT:
I had kind of … Since graduating college, I had been interested in tech and startups. And at the time, I had just started working at a really early stage company here in Boston that was trying to get involved in the startup community. And so I started … I had to commute about 30 minutes each way, and so I started listening to podcasts. And I really liked listening to interviews with startup founders, or just people that were working at companies in the tech space.

But every interview was always about some founder in San Francisco, or basically anywhere except Boston. And at the same time, I had been going to a lot of events, networking, meeting a lot of people in the startup community in Boston, because of my job. And I was like, “Man, there’s a lot of interesting stories here. It would be really cool, and I bet you people would be interested, if somebody did a podcast about startups in Boston.” But I did what most people do, which is, I just tweeted out the idea, because I didn’t actually want to do it myself. I just wanted to let people know I had this idea.

And a bunch of people actually just responded and they were like, “Yeah, you should do it.” And I was like, “Oh, I never really thought about that. I have no idea how to do a podcast. I’m not really in the mood to take something on extra.” But a bunch of people pushed me to do it, including my boss, the CEO of a company called Privy, Ben, at the time. And he said, “Hey, just do it once a week. Do it every Friday in our office, so you have a place to do it.”

And so I spent the weekend reading every single article online about how to start a podcast, confused myself for 48 hours. And then borrowed a USB mic from somebody that I knew, and recorded the first episode.

EVIN ANDERSON:
Wow, that’s fantastic. That’s awesome that you decided, “You know what? I’m gonna be an entrepreneur myself, and really jump in and start the podcast,” like that.

DAVE GERHARDT:
I had always wanted to have a side project, just because I always envied people that had something to tinker with outside of work. Because especially earlier in your career, you don’t always have the freedom or the autonomy to do whatever the hell you want. So I had wanted to start a side project, but I didn’t really have a topic that I was particularly passionate enough about. I could start a blog where I talked about marketing, but kind of everybody does that, and so when I had the idea for Tech In Boston, I was like, this is the perfect thing for me to kind of tinker on. So that’s kind of why I wanted to do it.

EVIN ANDERSON:
There’s so much talent in Boston, that the fact that we kind of get overlooked is kind of a shame. So it’s fantastic that you offer something like this, to give a voice to those entrepreneurs and startups that are so very prevalent in the Boston community.

DAVE GERHARDT:
It’s really funny. To fast forward to today, I’ve done 60 episodes, and at least three or four times a week I get an email from PR agencies, or just people that are trying to pitch me their news. And I’m like, “I’m not a media person. I don’t know what you want me to do with this. I can’t attend your event. I gotta work and do other stuff. But it’s flattering that you reached out to me.”

EVIN ANDERSON:
Well I guess that goes actually, perfectly to my next question, which is, how have you seen the podcast evolve over time since you first started?

DAVE GERHARDT:
I think mainly, to be completely honest, I think I’m just a better host, like I’m more comfortable doing it. Just kind of like anything, the more you do it … That’s the biggest part, is people that listened on day one, through the ups and downs, and that listen today, it sounds like I know what I’m doing? At least for the most part? But really I think I don’t have to do as much prep. I kind of know … I know what I want to get out of it, each episode. I used to do a ton of prep, which is great. I don’t think you can prepare enough for interviews, just in case. But I have a better idea of what I want to get out of it, going in. And the conversations are much more natural, and I just overall enjoy doing it.

EVIN ANDERSON:
I think that’s really important, especially with a subject like this. You really have to enjoy it, or really have a passion for it, in order for it to really work out.

DAVE GERHARDT:
Yeah, for sure. It’s definitely hard. One of the tough parts about having a side project that now has an audience is that I kind of have an expectation of … I got a text message the other day from a mentor of mine, and he said, “Hey, you’re really slacking on the podcast lately.” Because I’ve just been super busy with Drift and everything we have going on here. And so that was … You know, every now and then I get a wake-up call like that. Like people do actually listen to this thing, and so it’s important to … It keeps me going, for sure.

DEREK SAWAYA:
Yeah, you have no choice but to go.

DAVE GERHARDT:
You have no choice, yeah. Funny story is, when I started Tech In Boston, I did probably five or six episodes. The response was good, but I didn’t really love it, and I wasn’t super proud of it, so I just kind of stopped. It was in the middle of the summer, I had other stuff to do, and I just stopped doing it. And when I stopped doing it, I got three or four emails from complete strangers that were like, “What happened to that podcast you were doing?” And that was really a game-changer for me, to know that I created something that people that weren’t my mom, or my wife, or somebody else, cared about this thing. So that really helped me kind of want to double down on this. And since then, I’ve committed to try to do a good job.

DEREK SAWAYA:
Yeah, that’s definitely true. Thinking back to all the great guests you’ve had featured on Tech In Boston so far, can you share some of the most memorable experiences you’ve come across through your podcast?

DAVE GERHARDT:
I’m gonna do the selfish thing and tell people to go listen and catch up on episodes. But I think the coolest part is just meeting different people from all different types of companies. And really realizing that nobody grew up, or was born as an expert in anything. I’ve interviewed 60 people and they all have different stories, but they all have the same story, which is basically like, “Look. I didn’t know anything until I started this company, or I did this job, and I spent time doing this every day.”

Because I think we live in this world right now where everybody wants a growth hack, where everybody wants some tactic, or they want to know what’s the exact playbook … If you’re listening, and you’re like, “I want to start a podcast. Okay, Dave, tell me exactly how to grow a podcast.” Even if you follow the exact playbook that I used, it might not work for you.

And so I think that’s the world that we live in, and it’s really cool to talk to all these different people who just don’t believe in that at all, because they have lived this every single day, and the only way that you learn this stuff is by doing. And so it’s really cool to hear that, time and time again, from all the different types of people that I interview, whether it’s an investor, or a CEO, or a VP of marketing. It doesn’t matter. They all have that kind of same takeaway.

EVIN ANDERSON:
That is so very, very true. It’s not like a recipe. You can’t just say, “Well, I want a pinch of finance. I want a dash of energy.” And it all just kind of comes together and all the sudden, poof. You have a company, or a podcast, or some other kind of service or product that you’re trying to provide. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that at all.

DAVE GERHARDT:
Yeah, and if it did, then those people who are always giving those talks, why don’t they have 20 successful podcasts? Or 20 successful businesses, right? I love listening and reading all that stuff too, about how X person grew, or, “Here’s my formula for growing a blog to 100,000 visitors.” But if that person … If playbooks could be applied to all this stuff, then why don’t those people just do that over and over again? And the truth is, because it’s not that easy.

EVIN ANDERSON:
Funny, because I follow a few different companies on Facebook. So I get the Forbes updates, and entrepreneur updates, and Inc, and each one of them says, “Oh, well, entrepreneurs need at least eight hours of sleep.” Or, “Here are these successful entrepreneurs that get six hours of sleep.” And, “Here’s these people that avoid sugars, and they become successful entrepreneurs.” And just all this stuff that contradicts one another. But in the end I do believe that, just as you’re saying, you really have to just find your own flow, and what works best for you.

DAVE GERHARDT:
Yeah, for sure. I could tell you exactly my morning routine, and what I do, but I don’t think that’s gonna have any implication on how successful you are if you follow that.

EVIN ANDERSON:
So, we don’t have to know when you brush your teeth?

DAVE GERHARDT:
No. I usually don’t brush my teeth, so we’re good.

EVIN ANDERSON:
Well, there you have it, folks. The way to get a million dollars right off the bat, don’t brush your teeth.

DAVE GERHARDT:
Hey, if I had a million dollars that would be … Thank you for letting me know, so.

EVIN ANDERSON:
So, based off of all that experience that you’ve culminated from working on the podcast, and talking with these individuals, and knowing that it’s not a specific recipe, where do you see the startup community going in the next, say five years, for Boston?

DAVE GERHARDT:
Oh, man, that’s a loaded question. I think for the next five years, I think what we need is a couple more pillar companies here in Boston. And by pillar company I mean, who is the next HubSpot, for example. A company that’s created thousands of jobs here. They have a billion dollars’ worth of value. A well-known brand. Because I think what you see in every city that has companies like that is those are the companies that spawn out other companies. And so that’s what we want to build here at Drift. We don’t want to build the next small company, we want to build Boston’s next pillar company, and that’s because the amazing things that follow when you do that. You already hear stories of, now, the HubSpot Mafia, founders from … Employees that worked at HubSpot that have now gone on to start other companies. Wayfair is another good example. The original example, or not the original example, but one of the most successful examples was a company called Endeca here, that was acquired by Oracle. And now employees from Endeca have gone and start other companies.

And so I think over the next five years, it’s really, who’s gonna be that next company in Boston, and how can we get more than one of them, those? But I think it starts with people that really want to do amazing things, and build big companies here. I think that’s the start, for sure.

And one of the topics that comes up on Tech In Boston all the time is, how do we keep top talent here in Boston? And I think that’s a big piece of that, too. We have to make sure that we keep pushing Boston, and make sure it’s the best place to build a company. And how do we get that message out to the people that are graduating from here, and thinking about leaving? How do we help those people stay here? And really just, how do we do more PR for the Boston startup community? How do we shout about the companies that we’re building, and the amazing things we’re doing here, so we can help retain the best people and keep everybody here?

EVIN ANDERSON:
Well, and outside of those pillar companies, as you had mentioned, startups really need to make sure that they’re doing two huge things successfully. Which are two things that you’re doing at Drift right now, which is generating proper traffic, and garnering leads. So for entrepreneurs out there who are just launching themselves into this world, what are three major tips you want to offer them for generating traffic and leads?

DAVE GERHARDT:
I think the number one thing is that you have to genuinely understand and care about the problem that you’re trying to solve for people. The hardest thing to do is generate traffic and interest for something that you don’t really care about, and think about outside of nine to five. So I think number one is, make sure that you have a real deep knowledge of the problem that you’re trying to solve, and there’s a reason for that. The closer you are, or the closer you’ve actually been to experiencing what you’re trying to solve for, always makes a huge difference. And really putting yourself, the closer you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes, the better success you’re gonna have with marketing. Because at the end of the day, marketing really just comes down to having an amazing understanding of who your customer is, or who your target audience is.

The other thing that I think a lot of people forget about is that people want to do business with people that they like, today. And so it’s important to be a real person, especially when you’re doing marketing. So much marketing activity today comes from somebody that you know is not a real person, or automated email, or just … You know, consumers don’t fall for the, “Hello. Insert your name here, Dave,” email anymore. You have to be a real person. And I think the companies that understand who their customers are, and how to come off as real and authentic, are the ones that are gonna win.

And really, number three is make sure that you’re spending time experimenting. Too many people just kind of pick one channel, especially when it comes to marketing, and that’s it, that’s their channel. But I think there’s so many new channels out there, that you always have to be experimenting. But once you find one that works, stop chasing all of the new stuff and just double down on what you know works. And keep doubling down and doubling down on that channel, until you can’t get anything else out of it.

DEREK SAWAYA:
Do you foresee any major changes that would or could potentially change how we generate traffic leads in 2016?

DAVE GERHARDT:
I don’t know what the next new channel is gonna be, and I think it comes down to where people’s customers are. I’ve seen a lot of businesses playing around with Snapchat. I think it’s cool, but I don’t really … I haven’t had any success with generating real business from that. But it’s interesting and it goes back to the whole point about being more human, that a lot of people are playing around with that, that channel.

I’m a huge fan of Medium right now. I’m really bullish on Medium as a publishing platform. I just think that they’re getting a lot of interesting people to share their thoughts. And Medium has been driving a ton of traffic to Drift, and we spend a lot of time doing that. So that’s a channel that I’m spending a lot of time on, as a marketer right now. And Medium has a audience built-in. We’ve had a bunch of posts that … Single posts, that we’ve published on Medium … That have done between 20 and 30,000 views. And we don’t get that much traffic on our entire blog. So to get 30,000 views from one post has me really wanting to spend more time on Medium.

EVIN ANDERSON:
Well, for results like that, I don’t blame you for using it at all. Now, besides that tip of the importance of Medium … Really it’s from what you’ve seen with Drift … What are some final words of wisdom that you have for entrepreneurs, concerning marketing?

DAVE GERHARDT:
I think the biggest thing to remember when it comes to marketing is that, at the end of the day, there’s no marketing cure for sucking. And what that means is, customer experience really is the new marketing. And so if you have a product or service that people don’t genuinely love, and your product isn’t amazing, and your customer experience isn’t amazing, no marketing tactic or marketing campaign is gonna save you from that. So I would start with, have an awesome product. Have an amazing team. And then worry about the marketing tactics that you’re gonna try to go about doing to scale your business.

EVIN ANDERSON:
Well, thank you very much, Dave, for sharing those words of wisdom. And thank you for joining us today on episode 21 of Branch-Out.

DAVE GERHARDT:
Thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Listen to the full interview

Make sure to subscribe to Branch-Out: The Digital Media and Marketing Podcast today!
Click to listen to Branch-Out on SoundCloud  | Click to listen to Branch-Out on iTunes

Branch-Out: THE Digital Media & Marketing Podcast

Everything you need to tell your and your company’s story in order to engage, empower & educate! Evin and Tatiana dive into all subjects that will assist you telling your story and increasing your audience engagement. They also bring in thought-leaders, entrepreneurs and trailblazers that are changing how we market and use digital media.

Guests include Dave Gerhardt (Tech in Boston and Drift), Dan Shure (EvolvingSEO, MOZ, Experts On The Wire), Kaite Rosa (VentureFizz), Shawn LaVana (TempAlert), Chris Kavakian (CK Realty Group) and David Pakman (The David Pakman Show).

Branch-Out Podcast

Hosted by Evin Charles Anderson & Tatiana Ivan

Follow on Facebook

No Comments