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November 2, 2021

How to Build an Iconic B2B Brand: The Gong Case Study

Lisa and Udi

A recent report from LinkedIn revealed that 75% of B2B brands’ advertising efforts are ineffective. Instead of producing results, these efforts fail to contribute to long-term market share growth.

Gong, the leading revenue intelligence platform for B2B sales teams and one of our companies in the Norwest portfolio, is part of the 25%.

I sat down in September with Gong’s CMO Udi Ledergor, to see if he’d be willing to share some nuggets of branding and marketing wisdom with our community.

Take a listen to our conversation here and enjoy a few highlights below!


Don’t Confuse Being an Authority with Being Boring

So many B2B companies today lose sight of the fact that they’re communicating with humans. I’ve certainly been guilty of this in the past, and I think it was born out of Imposter Syndrome. In an effort to be seen as an authority in our space, we sometimes take an overly formal approach, adopting what we perceive as a safe, corporate tone of voice that fails to wow the audience.

Remember: John, the procurement guy, for example, is also a human being. So talk to him like you would a friend. Get to the point, capture his attention, and give him something of value.

“If you open a magazine or your TV or see a billboard from a company like Coca-Cola, Adidas, or Lego, they’re actually acknowledging that you’re a human being. That you’re busy, you have a sense of humor, and you have a very short attention span. They talk to you in a way that recognizes that.”

Recent studies give credibility to Udi’s perspective. Deloitte reports that customers want to be treated like humans and escape the homogenous customer experience. In a PwC survey, 59% of customers believe brands struggle to provide that distinctive human element of customer experience.

If there’s a part of you saying to yourself right now “Nah, we got this,” I dare you to share one of your content pieces with a friend and seek their (brutally honest) opinion. Would they want to read this? Would they even pay to read this? Their answer may surprise you. Hear how Udi’s team knows they’ve produced a winning piece of content starting at 10:19 in the recording.


Optimize for Reach, Without Sacrificing Leads

(12:00-16:05 in the recording)

As I listened to Udi share stories of his team’s success in generating impactful content, I wondered: do you give all this great stuff away? As marketers, we always want to optimize for eyeballs and get our content in front of as many readers as we can. But then, how do we know what’s working? How do we capture leads if we’re allowing free access to the content we so lovingly, and painstakingly, created?

So I asked Udi his perspective on gating and he shared his hedge strategy. Meaning, people can access, without a gate, any content on Gong’s website. But, with certain pieces of high-value, longer-form content, his team includes a CTA about one-third of the way through the piece (and again at the end), that directs them to a related asset. And that second piece is the one they gate.

For example, an article called 7 Cold Email Stats To Write Killer Cold Emails is a free piece of content promoted via social or on the website. Within that piece, Udi’s team incorporates a link to a premium piece of content that contains even more tips on the same topic which sits behind a form. Gong’s results with this strategy speak for themselves.

“When people click that CTA, we see conversion rates of up to 72% on those landing pages. That’s how we convert anonymous public readers into known contacts on the website.”

Hook Your Audience With Their Favorite Topic (Hint: Themselves)

(18:14-19:50 in the recording)

It’s no secret that relevance is a pillar of content marketing success. We all strive to craft content with topics that matter most to our audience, not only to capture their attention, but to increase the likelihood that they’ll consume it.

Relevance can be difficult to achieve because it requires you to speak to the buyer’s role, prevailing issues at work, business requirements, pain points, and more. Some of these insights are harder to come by than others, so why not start with the low-hanging fruit?

One of Udi’s tried-and-true tricks is to frame content in terms of the role of the target audience.

If you were a CMO, which one of these titles would appeal most to you?

  • Seven Budget Planning Tips for 2022
  • Seven Budget Planning Tips Every CMO Needs to Know

You’re more likely to choose the second one. And the data proves this out, according to Udi. He took this principle a step further when he developed a Super Bowl commercial to promote Gong. With such a high-stakes investment, he had to engage the audience quickly, so he announced the intended target right off the bat, just as he had done in emails and on content headlines for years. The first few seconds of the ad zoomed into a nameplate on a desk in an empty office that said “VP of Sales.”

“Our formula for creating content that people can’t resist: it has to be highly relevant and specific to your audience; add value to their day; and easy to consume.”

Udi reasoned that if this simple strategy of creating relevance for the audience works on LinkedIn and in email, why wouldn’t it work on a TV screen? (His bet paid off; he told me in a separate conversation that the company saw a dramatic increase in web traffic and conversions immediately following the Super Bowl ad).


Create Content Using Your Audience’s Perspective

Any piece of B2B content can be relevant and interesting, but does it add value? To craft content that delivers benefit to the audience, marketers must be able to adopt the point of view of their reader. When you put yourself in their shoes and genuinely feel for them, Udi explained, you are able to explore and discover topics that they find useful.

“Open your eyes and ears to what your audience is concerned about today. And give them content that helps them. That’s how you add value to their day.”

During the webinar, Udi delved deeper into this topic. In April of 2020, Gong’s salespeople found it difficult to close larger deals with their clients. That’s because CFOs were clutching their wallets tightly, reserving them for crucial purchases only.

The situation wasn’t restricted to Gong’s customers; it also affected other organizations and industries as a result of the unfolding pandemic. The scenario provided Gong with an opportunity to create content for the people they were talking to called the CFO Cheat Sheet: How to Get Past Your Buyer CFO.

Within 72 hours, this became one of Gong’s three most downloaded content assets. It was a success because it provided its intended audience a solution to their current challenges. This was proof that the more we seek to understand the needs of our audience, the more opportunities will present themselves to deliver value.


Stay Attuned to Who’s in Charge (It May Not be Who You Think It Is)

(22:30-24:52 in the recording)

Marketers need to ditch long-form whitepapers (with some exceptions) in favor of pithy, easy-to-consume content that can be accessed without a gate and on the go.

The B2B landscape is changing and millennials are taking over the decision-making and buying in their organizations. According to TrustRadius, 60% of today’s B2B tech customers are millennials. In addition, 51% of lead buyers and financial approvers in B2B buying organizations are millennials.

Another study found that 73% of those who participate directly in B2B research and decision-making are millennials, with over one-third of those being the ultimate decision maker.

“We post a lot of content that literally takes 10 seconds to read. That’s what brings people back. Once you make enough of those that are easy to consume, you buy people’s attention and trust to download something that might take them a little bit longer.”

The notion of trust is critical here. And part of gaining the trust of your audience is knowing them. If we know that millennials prefer bite-size content in formats such as videos or memes, let’s give it to them. If we know that they spend time on social media to consume this content, let’s deliver it there.

But don’t forget to test! Monitor your social feed, read the comments, see what people respond to. Experimentation and creativity are your friends. And you don’t have to break the bank to appeal to people. One thing I’ve noticed during Covid is how much expectations for production value have shifted. People no longer expect high concept, slick videos, for example. In fact, investing in such formats could work against you. People are more open to Zoom recordings, videos shot in iPhones and other Covid-friendly formats.


Catch More Key Insights in the Full Webinar

I can’t thank Udi enough for his gift of time and expert insights. There were so many great takeaways from our conversation. If you missed the original broadcast, or want to watch it again, please check out the entire recording here.

Got more questions? Feel free to contact Udi via his LinkedIn. Udi is generous in sharing his marketing experience and expertise as well as continuing to learn through engaging with others. You can also connect with me and share what topics you’d like for us to explore in the future.

Lisa Ames is Norwest’s CMO and Operating Executive. She leverages her more than 20 years of B2B SaaS marketing experience working shoulder-to-shoulder with portfolio companies to help them thrive.