LevelUp interview series part I: The evolving role of content with Asher Matthew

Angela: Everyone listening? ?I am here with Asher Matthew, VP of Revenue at Demand Matrix.

Asher, we spoke not that long ago on your podcast… Sunny Side Up, right? Episode 166, I think? Do you want to give a shout-out?

Asher: It’s as the journey goes. When you first started your podcast, I think I was one of the first few guests…. And then when I started mine I had to have you on! It sounds like any time there’s a new media activity either you or I are going to join in or start. We just invite each other. ?

So, here we go yet again. ?

Angela: I love talking to you. So I think the ball is in your court though… Now you have to create some reason for us to get online after this

Asher: You’re hard to follow, you know? What are we going to do next? Like, you know, a podcast from space maybe, something like that. That’ll be cool.

Angela: Hop on Elon Musk’s rocket to Mars, how about that? ?

Asher: Talk about the global view for marketing, how’s that?

Angela: Yeah, definitely, definitely.

Content’s a hot topic right now which is why we were just talking about it. Why do you think that is?

Asher: Yeah… so I think as we learned over the last 12 months or so, relevancy became important. And then for specific motions—like whether you’re targeting the large enterprises of your big market—you have to share specific information with folks so that they can take what they can use and act on it.

And it’s because back in… I would say pre- the last 12 months, you had line-of-sight to 180 days or maybe 360 days. And you’re planning for these long cycles, right, in the last 12 months. We’ve all learned that it’s very hard to see, post 90 days… So point number one is:

You have to generate fresh, relevant, actionable, and in-the-moment content so people can grab it.

Point number two, is the world became global very quickly. And it’s a cliche sort of a cliche ? but there were folks that we were speaking with across the world that wanted to learn about how business is done in the US and then how US companies are pivoting or shifting their approach to solving for what was dealt to them.

And then the US folks were like, hey like the global folks have experienced everything that we’re experiencing before us. So what are the steps that they’re taking to better serve their customers? And so there was this huge opportunity to create relevant, in the moment, actionable content that took off.

Angela: Absolutely. I mean, so much has changed and so many cliches have come true ? I think it’s just they resonate in a way they didn’t before.

Based on what you’re seeing over the last couple of years, though, and being VP of Revenue, you see things a little more globally. A little more, bird’s eye view.

How do you think organizations and teams should be shifting their approach to content creation and managing content? When it comes to specific content for sales and revenue teams?

Asher: Yeah, so that’s a fantastic point in. I’ll go back a couple of years ago. Or maybe three years ago.

I was in a meeting and it was LinkedIn’s customer price report. And I was fortunate enough to spend some time with other extremely experienced folks. One of them was Jocko from Winning by Design. That’s the first time I met him and really understood what he was all about.

What I took from that meeting was every salesperson has to understand what marketing is and what marketing can offer to them. And every marketer has to understand what a salesperson is. And what that person can offer to them.

When you bring the two together, the one thing that ties the two teams together is really assets, you know, in true marketing speak, right? ?

But the assets are really content. If we work together and create amazing content, that’s an activity that brings us together, right? As individuals and professionals.

Then, disseminating the content becomes very easy with tools like restream and all the other tools that are out there.

I definitely believe that the shift is more of a mental and a philosophical shift, where every salesperson has to go and learn about marketing principles and guess what? The marketers on the other side are so able and willing to help. It’s not like they’re holding anything back.

They want to share this information because they’re also looking for help to do work that makes them successful. And so sales is the team that can actually action everything that they’re doing, apart from the other things that they’re doing.

Angela: Nobody wants to create content that gets ignored, right? I don’t think any marketer out there wants to oh I’m going to make this white paper so everybody can ignore it ?

Asher: It is perfectly UTM, but it’s going nowhere.

Angela: Yeah, yeah, nobody clicks. So it didn’t matter that you could track it.

Asher: Correct ?

Angela: Absolutely. I mean, cross-training is one of them. It’s just exposure to other roles in an organization. I mean that’s sort of off-topic, but I think it is one of the most vital experiences you can have.

Some of the best designers I know can develop. Some of the best marketers I know, know sales and vice versa. So yeah, so so true. I couldn’t agree more.

So I was looking at your website as prep for our conversation, and noticed that you have a phrase that says: “We have entered the era of buyer-centric selling.

That really stood out to me because, as your website aptly points out, one of the things that has really become apparent in the 12 months—but even before that—is that we are all, in many ways, competing for the same attention.

On our podcast, we talked about one of the things that’s happening is that content’s easier than ever to create. As a result, there’s so much of it out there, right? So you are competing for this attention, especially from buyers.

What do you think that means for content? And how can whoever’s creating content—be that sales or marketing—really make sure that their content is buyer-centric and helping in that experience?

Asher: So I guess “buyer-centric” is one word… but then everybody talks about this “journey” right?

If we really want to be truly buyer-centric, then the one word that was used a lot in the last 12 months or so is the word “empathy”.

Empathy I think is a feeling. It’s a way of looking at things. Again, it’s very philosophical. Now, you have to figure out how you action empathy. If you want to action empathy, then you have to include your buyers. The same activities that you were doing to support them or to educate them.

And if you’re creating content with your buyers—which by the way, a podcast, which we talked about in detail, is a fantastic way to do it. You could also do blogs. You could write a white paper. We could even do it. I mean, I haven’t done this, but I think this will be pretty easy to do

Angela: Oh wait, drumroll is this our next time we’re getting together? ?

Asher: See this is what happens, every time we get together, we talk about new ideas. ?

But what if we took our buyers and just said, “Hey, here’s our sales script let’s build the sales script together.” That would be the nth degree of inviting them to participate with you.

But to go back to answer the question, buyer-centric selling is all about working hand-in-hand—patiently—with your buyers, right?

Because everybody has to buy software. Everybody has to buy data. Everybody has to buy everything, right? So, it’s just a matter of who they buy it from.

If you want to truly support your customers and be empathetic, then you have to include them in all the activities.

Now this does take a little bit of strain on the company because the common or traditional wisdom is: We already know we’re going to go fast, we’re going to build everything, we’re going to follow that.

And every time you add other people, especially external folks, into the process, it creates a little bit of a lag.

I think it’s a great time to be spent with those folks. Because it’s the next form of a community. When the customers or the buyers are bought into building your company ?️

Angela: Yeah, I mean, I can tell you on the agency side, I don’t know how many times someone would say. “Well, use me as the example in the persona”, and I’m like, “No! Go talk to the customers! You aren’t the same!”

For marketers, a good litmus would be “When was the last time you spoke with one of your customers”.

Whether you’re a copywriter or a demand generation marketer in charge of automation—any role you have in marketing—you really should have that intimate relationship.

And for those watching, I’m going to plug our launch of LookUp right now. I promise we didn’t prep. ?

You know, you can’t talk to customers every single time without creating a lag. Like Asher’s talking about, RFPIO® LookUp consolidates and collates customer feedback, real messages, real time pain points, solutions that customers are feeling… and makes all that accessible to the organization in a database-like way.

So check out RFPIO LookUp! Sorry, had to plug it. You mentioned it. ?

But genuinely talking to customers is overlooked as one of the most critical ways to get that information and those insights.

Asher: Yes, it is. And you know a podcast would be the best way to do it, to do one to one.

You could also do what a friend of mine encourages and bring customers to talk with prospects.

Doing these smaller things are so important, so that your customers can be in it with you to help you build a company.

The other thing that I think people would appreciate is that if you are running a podcast, please do not have the least experienced individual at your company be a host of the podcast. Have your executives do this.

It’s really important.

So that the outside world can understand who is at the helm of these companies? What is being built? Could we be a part of it? And who am I going to be working with? All of that stuff matters.

We are going to hear a lot about people wanting to take their values through the entire customer journey. etc, etc. This is one of the ways to do it.

Angela: I mean, podcasts are super tangible. That’s a really actionable way. You and I have both done that.

It’s your chance to get up close and personal with your customers. You get to hear what they’re experiencing.

One of our customers messaged me this morning. “Hey, great job to everyone on the launch!” and I was like, “Tell me if it’s everything, I think it is!”

We get so far removed. Sometimes it takes getting close. So I hear you as far as wanting to sign your executives up for it.

Not to put you on the spot because I know we didn’t prep, but is there another way that Demand Matrix is getting their customers with their prospects in this kind of virtual world? Where before we might have had dinners and round tables that we could host?

How are you guys doing that today?

Asher: So we haven’t cracked the code on customers connecting with partner prospects yet.

We have received numerous referrals from customers on who we should connect with. But that’s one area that we want to accelerate as well.

What we have been able to do is take multiple prospects and then combine them in an activity, like a joint blog or something like that. We’ve created a system, so that we could do this at scale.

So to give you guys an idea, we’re going to try to do 540 podcasts this year and we have a full-blown funnel running. If anybody is listening and wants to learn more, I’m happy to spend time with you to share how we did it.

But we have a full-blown funnel—and kudos goes to our CEO who kept on pushing us to say—hey look, everything has got to be a funnel at some point in time. Maybe funnel is too strong of a word. But we have to understand all this energy that we were spending… is it benefiting the people that are on the show in some way? And now it may be a deal, it may not be a deal—but we’ve helped people.

Here are the top five reasons why people do a podcast:

  1. They want to do personal branding. They want to get themselves out there right?
  2. They want to speak on a topic that is extremely confusing and they’ve talked about multiple times and people aren’t getting it. So they said, let me go mainstream and educate people, right?
  3. People are looking to get onto other companies as advisors and board members and stuff like that
  4. People are literally looking for a new job, so they start to do this, right?
  5. People are giving the podcast as managers and leveraging it for recruiting. This one was actually the most interesting one for me, when we collected this data. Because they want to show the world who they are as an individual, as a manager. They are quarter court, selling to prospective candidates and then using that as material to attract top-level candidates.

Angela: That’s awesome. And honestly you learn so much about yourself. About the people you’re interviewing. About technology. And MarTech. And podcasting software. I can speak from experience on that one, too. I mean, you and I never would have been connected, had it not been for MarTalk—so you also make friends.

Asher: Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. And it is the best time, one-on-one, that you’re going to spend. I had a blast.

I would say for me personally, this was one of the most satisfying things that I’ve done in a while.

But not to say that podcast is only channel we can do. Vidcast is one that we’re doing right now, we can do group video casts right there. The tools have become so easy to use that all it takes is willingness of people to connect and get over their fear of public speaking.

Once you can help them understand that, then the possibilities are endless. You know, get out there. Help people out. Just think of all the VPs that are out in like EMEA, APAC and LATAM that need help—and rightfully so—and then us on our side. We need help as well to understand how do we communicate? Educate and evangelize the way we’re thinking about how a company should be built and the way products should be served across the world.

Angela: Absolutely. Asher, this has been fun. It’s always fun when we get together. The ball’s in your court as I said on our next connect. ?

How can people continue the conversation with you?

Asher: Please reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’m fairly responsive.

I would just say one thing that I’ve learned by hanging out with every other VP in the community, or through our podcast, is just if you don’t know what you’re going to do, just say, “Hey, I’m looking for an informal introduction.” and then we schedule some time.

But if you can be specific in your need like, I need help with X. Then I know how to help you and if I can’t help you I’m going to connect you with somebody. And if that person doesn’t know they’ll connect you with somebody. Ultimately you’ll land on Angela’s podcast ?

And then somebody will help you. But it should be specific. Because VPs are extremely connected individuals and truly generally want to help.

Angela: We want to help each other. Leadership doesn’t have to be lonely anymore, right?

Asher: Yes. Well said.

Angela: So thank you all for joining me for the first in our five-part series of LevelUp Interview Series: The Evolving Role of Content. We spoke with Asher, Matthew VP of Demand Matrix.

Tomorrow, we are speaking with Eric Whitley. See you tomorrow! ?