Ryan Paul Gibson

Founder of Content Lift

18 Insights · 6 Questions · 10min Read · 14min Listen · Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn

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Why, and how, do people buy? Ask your customers questions. After you decided on wanting to solve a problem, what did you do next? What made you trust X? Where to fit in the marketing landscape. Networking. Jobs to Be Done. Transcribe and go over everything again. Jump on calls with other peers.

Here’s what MJ Peters said about Ryan:

Ryan Paul Gibson. He owns a company called Content Lift and he helps companies interview their customers. So he is an expert on that marketing discovery call and he’s worked with lots of companies on their go-to-market strategy. Bet you he has some super interesting techniques that other GTM leaders should apply. —MJ Peters, VP of Marketing at CoLab Software → Listen

What are 3 ways that your team converts your market into revenue?

So my market, right? Like how I go about it? Being a solo printer is interesting because some of the things are the same as being a B2B marketer, because I am business-to-business, but there's also some differences. There's three things I just use and it's very basic.

1) How I promote myself, which is LinkedIn, and that's my sole channel. I decided early on it's going to be it. And I don't deviate from that. I have a very specific framework and strategy there.

2) Networking, but it's all digital networking. So, I'm in 10 different groups for B2B marketers and there that the strategy is different. Some is the same. I'm still trying to give people help, but I help more at a general marketing level as somebody who's been in B2B in marketing for 20 years. So, I will help and give people my thoughts and interact there. And often that will turn into people wanting to talk to me more.

3) My website. Like any other business. And, that's very much designed around high intent. Informing people how I do things.

Those are it. It's a very simple process, and that's really high-funnel, mid-funnel, bottom-funnel. I use that framework. I hope I answered the question.

What are 3 hard problems that you recently overcame?

1) Figuring out how I was going to make a career for myself. Not as a marketer in a house. That was a big challenge, and I think I'm on the path.

2) Figuring out like where I fit then in the marketing landscape. That was a big one because I was trying to be what they call, a fractional marketer, and that's just a fancy way of saying part-time. You'll see a lot of fractional CMOs out there. I tried to be a fractional CMO, and I’m not smart enough to be a fractional CMO. So, I went in as a part-time senior marketer, but I wasn’t really satisfied doing that. There were just challenges I had with that. So, I decided to niche down. How was I going to niche? And I found out. Just through a chain of events I got some research contracts to do customer research, because I had done a lot of them in my career, and I niched down into that. So I found sort of my path and it's great, because I wanted something that I can make a huge, big difference with a business and a marketing team, but have it be repeatable, consistent and provide more value than just me being sort of a part-time marketer for hire.

3) Managing my time, which I think is hard for everybody. I don't know if I've solved that one yet, but what I'm really just trying to do is focus on the things I can control and have the most impact on, whether for myself, from our clients, because it's so easy to get distracted in marketing when you're a marketer, especially a marketer marketing to marketers, which is so meta, but being very specific about how you spend your time. Because there's only so much time in the day and in your life.

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What are 3 questions that you love to ask and why?

Oh, there's a lot. I ask questions for a living. So how do you choose?

1) Why? Why is actually one of the first questions I like to ask, but why is always contextual. Let's say I'm doing my work, I like to understand, “What were you doing to solve a problem before you bought a solution?” which is always a good one to understand as a marketer, because even though you're trying to sell one product, it really helps understand how, what they were doing before they came and bought your solution.

2) After you decided on wanting to solve a problem, what did you do next? Often, we’ll ask, as marketers, “So how did you look for me? How'd you find me?” Which is fine, that’ an open ended question we'll ask. I like to know from that moment where they decided the pain was insurmountable, and they needed to solve it, what did they do next? The action they took. Because then what you can do is you can say, “Oh, I went to LinkedIn and posted and asked people what they do here.” Great. What happened next? And I just take them through that.

3) What made you trust them? My favorite question to ask, though, is either for marketing or sales, but a lot more for sales is, “What made you trust the person, the solution, the team you chose, or the vendor you chose, or the sales team that you're working with, like what made you trust them?” That one is such a mindblower because usually the answers you get are not the things you will expect as the team that's trying to market and sell a product. It's often dramatically different than what you think it's going to be.

So those are my three favorite ones to ask.

What are 3 mental models that you use to do your best work?

What do you mean mental model? Walk me through what one would be for you. So it grounds my thinking.

Chris Morgan: It’s how I theorize about things. Or, it’s the voice in my head. So one example for myself is I always try to look for the idea of an inventory. So, a type of thing that actually has many different variants, and I want to observe them by the same criteria. So I'll look all over the place for, “How can I think about this from an inventory or a database mindset?” That would be one example. Other examples that we'll hear is the Scientific Method as a framework for X.

Okay. I'm with you now.

1) Why and how do people buy? For marketing as a whole, my whole thing is, “Why and how do people buy?” That's all I care about really, at the end of the day, because if I understand why and how buyers buy, and the process of that, I can influence how they make those decisions. I try to ground all my discussions, and all my actions and marketing, around that thought process. So then, also, it makes me very choosy about what I do,

2) Jobs to Be Done. I love the Jobs To Be Done methodology to have a more rigorous framework. Many marketers, or product owners, will know that one quite a bit, and founders, where it's really an innovation framework for understanding why a person buys a product and what's the end state they want to achieve with a product or a service. But what's great is that still works for marketing because it's still the same logical thought process that people go through.

3) Transcribe and go over everything again. I don't know if this one's a model, but when I do my work for research, I transcribe and I go over everything again. I guess that's more of a technique than a model, but a reason I do that is if I can read and listen in a space, and I'm not distracted, and I can listen to people's actual answers around auestions like, “Why did you trust the sales team? What were you trying to do before?” I can see patterns and themes that emerge that will really help me improve either how I positioned in a market, how I try and sell a product, just how I communicate to people within, at different stages of a buying journey.

So those would be three things. Often, I don't think that way. It's such a smart way to think about things and I don't know if I'm that smart.

What are 3 techniques that GTM teams need to try?

1) Jump on calls with other peers. One thing I would do, and I advise us a lot, jump on calls with other peers. Sales, or customer success, even product. You might not think that it's gonna give you anything, but as a marketer, it will, because as a marketer, you touch so many aspects of the organization that you don't even think of. So, I'd say jump on calls.

2) Do customer success. If you can. Talk to customers, engage with customers, interact with customers. This is more probably soft SaaS, but we forget that service is at the end of that acronym. I spent most of my career in customer-facing roles and marketing is one. Interacting with the customers as much as you can is good.

3) Active listening. Active listening in your meetings, in your one-on-ones. If you're talking to people because it's actually really hard to listen. I don't think people understand how hard that is. I was a reporter for three years. I worked as a TV and radio reporter and, boy, did I learn quickly how bad I wasn't listening. Active listening allows you to really hear what people are saying rather than you waiting to respond on what you want to talk about.

So those are three things that I think people might want to try.

Who are 3 operators that should be our next guests and why?

1) Anita Toth. The first guest I would think of as Anita Toth. Anita is interesting. She's on the customer success side and she has a great name. She calls herself The Churn Crusher. We've talked a couple of times and what I like about her is she is, like me, hyper-focused on a part of a business that is very important for long-term success. Churn is going to be such a big metric for SaaS companies going forward. How do you keep customers around for longer, and why? How do you succeed in that? And she just lots of fun. So I think she's the first one.

2) Dani Woolf. Dani is Director of Demand Generation for a cybersecurity company. I like her because I can tell we align with our philosophies on things around demand, which is you can't just ram a product into someone's face and expect them to think that they'll buy it, because that's not how B2B works. People just don't wake up and want to buy a solution. There's a process they go through of decision-making. Some of it's rational, some of it’s emotional, to eventually land on a list of solutions when the time is right. So, I think she'd be cool to talk to.

3) Peep Laja. I know who you should talk to. Do you know what Peep Laja? So Peep has a podcast called How to Win and he speaks to SaaS executives, and Saas marketers, about how they are actually trying to win in a market. Not things about, “What's your latest hack and what’s your growth thing?” He’s like, “Tell me your strategy and how you're trying to position and win in a market.” Because the reality for SaaS is that it's going to become more competitive. With every month that comes, there's going to be more solutions that are copycats of each other that do the same things with feature parity, and they're going to be competing on price. It's just inevitable. That's every market. How are you going to win in that environment? He has a really interesting thought process about how you do that. I think you should talk to him.

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April 2022 · Interview by Chris Morgan, Host of Market-to-Revenue

Market-to-Revenue Podcast ⚡️ Lightning-fast interviews with GTM operators in sales, success, product, and marketing.

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↓ Access lightning-fast interviews with go-to-market pros.

🔊 You need to meet:

Shea Cole

VP Marketing at Fullscript

Anita Toth

Chief Churn Crusher

Darren Sharpe

Chief Revenue Officer at SuiteSpot

Anthony Murphy

Founder of Product Pathways

Craig Handy

Head of Revenue Automation, Tooling & Enablement at Shopify + Founder of Jameson Strategies

Mo McKibbin

Head of Customer Support and Success at Moxion

Vladimir Blagojević

Co-Founder of fullfunnel.io

Jason Bay

Chief Prospecting Officer at Blissful Prospecting

Katy McFee

Founder and Principal of Insights to Action

George Valdes

Head of Marketing at Monograph

Matt Baxter

Director of Product Management at Bestow

Kristi Faltorusso

Chief Customer Officer at ClientSuccess

Daniel Cmejla

Director of Partnerships, Community & Social Media at Chili Piper

Shri Apte

VP Revenue at Triplebyte

Dani Woolf

Director of Demand Generation at Cybersixgill

Antoine Buteau

Business Operations at Replit

Brandon Fluharty

Founder of Be Focused. Live Great.

Meghann Misiak

Founder of The Path to President’s Club

Ryan Paul Gibson

Founder of Content Lift

Jacob Gebrewold

Commercial Account Executive at Klue

Sidney Waterfall

VP of Demand Generation at Refine Labs

Sam Kuehnle

VP of Demand Generation at Refine Labs

Andrew Miller

Senior Growth Product Manager at Monograph

Darren McKee

Director of Growth at Wellthy

Sean MacPherson

VP of Customer Success & Experience at Alyce

MJ Peters

VP of Marketing at CoLab Software

Patrick Coleman

VP of Growth at Replit

Arthur Castillo

Senior Manager of Field Marketing & Community at Chili Piper

Leslie Venetz

Founder of Sales Team Builder

Stuart Balcombe

Product Marketer at Arrows

Jen Allen

Chief Evangelist at Challenger

Carl Ferreira

Director of Sales at Refine Labs

Mark Znutas

Vice President of GTM Strategy and Operations at Hubspot

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