In this episode of Sunny Side Up, Joe Schwartz, (Former) VP of Marketing at BigPanda discusses the key content marketing strategies followed by the company and how he drives it.
Questions addressed in this podcast.
- The problem BigPanda solves and Joe’s role there. (00:47)
- Joe’s journey. (01:46)
- The primary objective for content marketing at BigPanda. (02:18)
- What kind of content they gate and what they don’t. (03:10)
- What are the big things that they have learned about content marketing over the last five years and new industry trends and insights. (07:16)
- Joe’s thoughts about the future of content marketing. (08:22)
- Methods used to quantify or optimize the effectiveness of content to gate, especially when PDFs might lose visibility after the download? (10:00)
Key takeaways from the episode:
- We look at both the value to the prospect and the perceived value to the prospect when thinking about gating. And we also look at what’s the value for us in having something be free and having something be out- is the value for us greater to have this asset proliferate widely or is it better to set it free and have people that share it freely and more willingly which they generally do with stuff that’s not gated.
- We share things more freely at later stages in our funnel. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when companies or members of the team propose to gate something that was offered to someone that we already know. I know it’s kind of a no-brainer, but a lot of companies will ask people for information that they have already given to a vendor and that’s a quite a slap in the face. But it’s something I really try never to do.
- At the top of the funnel I want to give things away, other than the licensed content that might or might not be specifically about my company. If it’s about our space or if it’s going to provide someone with some value and it’s coming from a brand analyst then I will ask for their information. But if it’s top of funnel, if it gets our name out it, if it could provide value and it’s an asset that we created, I would most likely put it out there freely and then at a later stage in the funnel, once I know someone I never want to ask for their information again.
- The content really needs to have a purpose and needs to be aligned to a buyer need, aligned to the buying cycle.
Here’s the full transcription:
Dave (00:47): Tell me about that the problem that BigPanda solves and the role that you play there Joe.
Joe (00:56): My role in BigPanda has been to initially put us on the map and to drive demand to bring in enterprise customers from a marketing perspective, for our sales to move through the pipeline. What BigPanda does is help IT operations folks better manage their data centers. We provide a platform that helps with algorithmic service operations, we basically take in all the data from all the various monitoring systems in data centers today and apply algorithms to correlate the alerts to incidents and enable people to better manage their incidents and to keep their data centers up and running.
Dave (01:46): Got it. It looks like you been there for just a little over three years. Is that correct?
Joe (01:51): Yeah, I have been at BigPanda for just over three years. We were low in numbers of employees when I started the company – it was founded in Tel Aviv and the CEO moved to Mountain View, CA to bring the product to market and hired me to help build out the go-to market. Now we’ve got almost 100 employees worldwide.
Dave (02:18): Tell me a little bit about the primary objective you have for content marketing at BigPanda.
Joe (02:25): Content marketing is a big part of our go-to market in BigPanda. For a long time, for a good chunk of the first couple of years, Inbound Marketing included events, but Content is a big part of that. But Inbound marketing was the biggest driver of the pipeline for BigPanda. I look at content marketing, and I have a leader of content marketing in the team, a director who has built out a content strategy that we’ve set up with the primary objective to drive awareness, drive demand and also help move things through the funnel as they hit mid and late final stages.
Dave (03:10): I wanted to ask about an aspect of content marketing which always intrigued me, which is what do you gate? What do you put out there so, that people can see it freely? And what do you put behind a registration form in order to capture someone’s identity and follow up and sell them something ultimately? What’s your point of view about the answer to that question?
Joe (03:37): When I think about what we do gate- we license content from analysts like Gartner, we have reprints from Gartner, we select reprints that support our message and that we think our prospects and customers will find value in. And because of the value they receive, we think that they will very willingly give us their information and appreciate the content that they will receive. So, we do gate those pieces and then we have a few marquee pieces that we have put a lot of work and research into because we find value in that research. And we believe our prospects and customers will find value in that research, and those types of pieces of content we do are like the state of the monitoring report. So, it’s ‘that state of the document’ that a lot of companies do in different industries these days. No one was doing it and monitoring it, we did it there and it has a lot of good pieces of data that people really want to receive. So, we look at both the value to the prospect and the perceived value to the prospect when thinking about gating.
And we also look at what’s the value for us in having something be free and having something be out- is the value for us greater to have this asset proliferate widely or is it better to set it free and have people that share it freely and more willingly which they generally do with stuff that’s not gated.
Dave (05:20): What do you draw the line then on?
Joe (05:28): We share things more freely at later stages in our funnel. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when companies or members of the team propose to gate something that was offered to someone that we already know. I know it’s kind of a no-brainer, but a lot of companies will ask people for information that they have already given to a vendor and that’s a quite a slap in the face. But it’s something I really try never to do.
Dave(06:03): Yeah it’s not very friendly. Right. Yeah.
Joe (06:06): Yeah, it’s both not very friendly and it indicates that you as a vendor don’t understand the technology that you have on the martech side to capture that the fact that someone downloaded something means you don’t need to ask someone for their information again.
Dave (06:23): Is it more, the very top of the funnel where you want to give things away or it sounds like it’s both there and deeper in the funnel once you know them.
Joe (06:31): Yeah that’s the way I look at it. Top of the funnel I want to give things away, other than the licensed content that might or might not be specifically about my company. If it’s about our space or if it’s going to provide someone with some value and it’s coming from a brand analyst then I will ask for their information. But if it’s top of funnel, if it gets our name out it, if it could provide value and it’s an asset that we created, I would most likely put it out there freely and then at a later stage in the funnel, once I know someone I never want to ask for their information again.
Dave (07:16): So, you have been doing content marketing for quite a long time. What are the big things that you have learned about content marketing say over the last five or so years? More recently where you had new insights that you didn’t understand earlier in your career.
Joe (07:36): This isn’t so much a new insight, it’s a trap, I see a lot of people get caught in this ‘content for the sake of content’. The content really needs to have a purpose and needs to be aligned to a buyer need, aligned to the buying cycle. Some companies celebrate the creation of content because they put it out there and they check the box, they got it done. But if it didn’t have a purpose in both the eyes of the vendor and the prospect, more so the prospects for the customer, then its content for the content’s sake and that can be not the very good use of resources.
Dave (08:22): What’re your thoughts about the future of content marketing given all the new technologies and capabilities that keep emerging in this area to help marketers.
Joe (08:33): I think content marketing is not going away. It’s only most likely getting more sophisticated with all the new technologies and capabilities. I think gating will become less and less as other technologies take over that help continuous engagement and engage folks who were previously anonymous with things that moved them down the buying cycle. I think that’s a change that we’ll see in the not too distant future.
Dave (09:04): Are you experimenting now with any way to open gated content up more than you had previously because of technologies and other things that allow you to do that?
Joe (09:15): We haven’t implemented anything yet but we have a lot of discussions about it or are looking at ways that we can do it. It’s definitely on our minds.
Dave (09:24): Any final thoughts about content marketing and gating of content.
Joe (09:32): As the buyer’s journey is becoming more digital, or digital touches the buyer at every stage in the journey, content marketing and having content well mapped to every stage in the buyer journey is becoming more and more important in sales cycles where sales reps are involved later. Content marketing and content will still be an important factor.
Dave (10:00): One final question- if you gate content and let’s say it’s a PDF, what mechanisms do you have today to get a good sense of how well someone actually interacted with that and the value they got from that content? Since you typically are losing I presume visibility on the asset right once they download it. Do you have any tips or tricks to make sure that the content is really resonating and has the purpose that you talked about earlier?
Joe (10:31): You don’t have any tactics there now, other than anecdotal. Basically, hearing from our sales force or our customers this is another topic that’s coming up quite a bit. How do we do this in a more quantitative way, if it’s possible, or a way using some level of automation? But we don’t have anything in place right now. We have had instances where we walked into customers in meeting with a buying team and had a CTO hold up one of our assets to say you know “I love this, this was really helpful for me.” I actually use it in my training of new employees and that type of thing is very validating and helpful but it’s anecdotal and doesn’t happen very frequently. So, I would be looking for ways to better get a handle on the engagement with the content that we are creating and putting out there.
Joe Schwartz is the Vice President of worldwide marketing and demand generation for Big Panda, had a long career in the high tech industry including a director of marketing at Cisco and also part of Webex. Webex was pioneering in the SAAS models of big panda was in the low teens. He joined when the company was first coming to market with their product and now built it to a large enterprise customers and an almost 100 employees.
About the podcast
Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.