117 Ross Simmonds of Foundation Marketing

Steve and Sam interview Ross Simmonds, the leading authority on content distribution and using AI in marketing.


Content As An Asset

Content should be viewed as an asset with upfront costs that requires ongoing optimization and distribution to realize ROI over time. This investor mindset focuses on lifetime value of customers versus short-term results.

Leveraging Events and Video For Outreach

In-person events enable networking to build relationships while getting on stage expands reach. Video recordings from events can be repurposed into clips distributed across channels. Personal video outreach will increase with AI assistance.

Rise of AI For Increased Efficiency

AI will boost email outreach productivity short-term but cause inbox fatigue long-term, requiring differentiation. It can also help create and distribute content, though human creativity is still needed.

Aligning Marketing and Sales

There is often a disconnect between marketing and sales teams in sharing content assets, messaging, and metrics. Alignment starts from leadership with shared revenue goals, then providing processes for collaboration and viewing sales as a distribution channel.

Industry Consolidation Driven by AI Startups

Major players will acquire more AI startups for content and distribution capabilities. Influencers will also see more B2B sponsorship opportunities.

Episode Transcript

Welcome to CRM Talk, the show that brings you the latest in CRM and CRM related news and information. This is Steve Chipman along with my co-host, Sam Biardo.

And today’s guest is Ross Simmonds. Ross is founder and CEO of Foundation Marketing, and in my opinion, is the leading authority on content distribution and using AI in marketing. Welcome, Ross.

Thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be here and I appreciate the kind words. I definitely try to share as much as I can about AI and content distribution and I’m excited to join you folks to chat about it today.

And just for the record, this is the real you, not an AI version of you that we’re talking to, right?

That’s correct, but I can give no promises to what you might be interviewing in three years’ time. At the rate at which things are changing, it’s very likely that I’m going to just start throwing out a bunch of Ross spots at all of the interviews and all of the podcasts.

Excellent. So you’re soon gonna release a book that’s named after your philosophy, which is Create Once and Distribute Forever. What can you tell us about the book and then do you have any actionable tips for our listeners on how they can start distributing some of their content?

Definitely. I think at the end of the day, the reasoning behind this book started with my own pain point. When I first graduated from university, I thought that I could create pretty good content. And I was creating content at the time of both fantasy sports.

I’m a big Philadelphia Eagles fan, and I was writing a ton of content about football. And I was sharing it on my Facebook, but it wasn’t getting a lot of reach. I then took a different strategy and I started to share it in communities where other people interested in football actually were spending time.

And then I started to see a ton of traction, a ton of engagement. And that’s when the light bulb went off that, oh, the best content doesn’t always win. It’s the best content that actually gets promoted and gets amplified.

And I think a lot of products, a lot of businesses, a lot of leaders, creators, et cetera, forget the fact that you need to distribute your content, whether it’s a case study, whether it’s a blog post, whether it’s a landing page, whether it’s a video, a webinar, whatever it might be, you need to distribute those things because there are people who may not have seen it when it first went live.

A lot of clients that we work with at my company Foundation struggle with this idea of getting their story out there. And the reason why they struggle is because they have gotten caught up in the hype of content is king.

Create more content, write more content, build more content, forgetting the fact that if you create this content, you actually have to do something with it. You have to promote it and amplify it. So the book, Create Once, Distribute Forever, is built around this idea that I don’t want great creators, people who have a story worth telling, to someday look back at their life and say, there was so much more I could have done, but I didn’t get there because I didn’t promote my stuff.

I want to remove the barriers that so many people have around distribution and give them a tactical roadmap on how they can get their story out there. And that’s the goal of the book. So I think for me, long story, a little bit longer, it started with my own personal experience of seeing the potential of distribution and then working with organization after organization and seeing that a lot of times it’s not that the product’s not good.

It’s not that the content isn’t good. It’s that the distribution of that content and the actual reach that it has that actually holds it back the most.

And would you say with everything that’s swirling around search and Google’s facing some criticism from the SEO community, the distribution is today more important than ever?

I would say there’s no question that amidst the chaos that exists in Google, that distribution is more important than ever before. When you look at the past like three years of chaos on Google, where in the past Google was seen in many ways as a portal that would send people to your website, to your blog.

Now Google is actually showing you answers to questions directly in the search engine results page. In the past, I could go to Google and say, what are the best CRMs? And then there could be a leader, a writer, a creator who wrote an in -depth blog post that was going all in the details.

And it would show me with maybe some videos, some screenshots, five CRMs that they’ve actually personally tried that I should consider. But now if you do that same query, you’re going to get the answer before you click on anything.

Google is going to show you the logos, the lists, the names of all of the CRMs that you should use in your business. And it’s essentially taken and scraped all of this content from other people’s sites and it’s placed it there.

So what do you do as a creator if you’ve built a business on the back of that type of experience? Or what if you’re one of those CRM tools? The thing that you need to do is think about where else is your audience spending time where they’re asking those questions, where they’re looking for that type of information and how can you distribute your stories there?

How can you show up in the newsletters that they’re subscribed to? How can you show up on LinkedIn, on the channels they’re on? How can you ensure that you’re getting presence and time and space on podcasts that are talking about this topic?

These are the things that the brands and the leaders at these organizations need to be thinking about because you can’t rely exclusively on Google, especially with the rise of chat GPT, SGE, all of these things to say, yes, we know with confidence that this is going to be our path forward.

You have to start creating and owning your own distribution channels as well.

Let’s talk about AI’s role in content creation and distribution. I’m personally a believer that AI is a good source of inspiration for long-form content, but ultimately that needs to be predominantly human-created.

However, on the distribution side, once you’ve created the content, I think it’s really fair game to use AI to distribute that in different forms. Would you agree?

I would 100% agree. I think at the end of the day, if you give AI to a bad writer, a good writer, and a great writer, a bad writer using AI is going to give you bad content. A good writer using AI is going to give you good content.

A great writer with AI is going to give you great content as well. The only thing is they’re going to give it to you faster. They’re going to give it to you more efficiently and quickly than they would have before.

So when you start with that essence that, okay, I’m going to use AI as if it’s kind of like my Iron Man suit and it’s going to help me do more than I could have before as a human, great, awesome starting point.

But you have to have that human touch. You have to have bring your unique perspective, your unique perspective to the stories that you’re telling. But when it comes to distributing it, after you’ve developed the asset, after you’ve applied your own experience, your knowledge and ideas to this piece, leveraging it for distribution makes so much sense.

It’s that idea of create once, distribute forever on steroids in many ways, because now you can take a blog post, you could take a podcast, you could take a video, you can have AI listen to that asset and then identify on your behalf, what are some of the key moments within this episode or within this video that we should turn into snackable clips that can go out on LinkedIn.

It will tell you what those are. You can ask it to write the transcriptions for those moments. You can ask it to create on your behalf a LinkedIn update that can go with that clip. And then it just makes your life so much easier.

And we did a study at Foundation where we interviewed over 200 or so marketers and we asked them, do you believe that AI is going to be a net positive for your career? And a lot of the noise online is saying AI is going to take all our jobs. AI is horrible.

And 92% of them had a positive sentiment around it. And that is because I believe truly that most marketers realize that if they use AI, they can spend their time doing things that they actually care more about, whether that’s spending more time with their families and kids, or it’s that more strategic, high value tasks that are going to help them succeed as professionals in general.

And speaking of marketers, this whole mindset of looking at all of your content assets as assets, I don’t think enough marketers really consider these to be assets that you can improve upon, that you need to monitor, you need to treat them almost like financial assets.

Tell me more about your philosophy on the asset mindset.

Yeah, when we think about content, we view it 100% as you described it. Every single blog post, every single white paper, every landing page is an asset, and it has to be viewed from this perspective, or you’re just going to think of it as like a bit of a cost center, where it’s just a cost that you incur time and time again.

But in reality, it’s an investment, and these investments should pay back ROI. So if I’m writing a blog post, I want to understand what the average cost is per blog post. And then I’m going to think about long-term, what is the value I’m going to get in return from this investment in this blog post?

So if a blog post takes me $300 to outsource, or $1,500 to outsource, I need to ensure that I’m going to get $1,500 back, minimum. And then on top of that, what is the lifetime value of any prospect and lead that comes in on the back of that?

So when you have that mindset, you start to think of everything you do a lot differently. You don’t just think, oh, I’m going to create this video for the sake of creating it. You think, okay, if this is going to take up 10 hours of my day, if it’s going to take five hours of somebody on my team’s time to promote it, that’s 15 hours worth of time.

What’s my hourly rate? Multiply that by 15. That’s the cost of this asset for you to create. What are you going to get in return from that? For some brands, they just want more impressions. They want brand awareness.

They want to get some social shares and buzz, and that’s okay. But for some brands, they need to be able to say, that video resulted in an increase in our pipeline by 2% or that a certain portion of our revenue came directly out of this asset.

Some of it is very difficult to track, but if you can track it and you can own it across the full funnel, that’s when magic happens. So for us, we think marketers need to think less like artists and more like investors.

Stop always creating things just for the sake of creating things and think about the ROI out of every single asset that you not only create, but also optimize and distribute. And those two words, optimize and distribute, are essentially the idea of getting dividends from that investment that you made.

So if I create a landing page or a blog post in 2021, in 2022, and in 2023, and in 2024, I should have been sharing that piece online. I should have been sending it out to leads and prospects to nurture their relationships.

And I should probably be optimizing it to keep it up to date with the things that are happening in my industry so I can continue to cash the register.

And do you think sales teams are under-utilizing the assets that marketers create? I know that there’s always been a contentious relationship between salespeople and marketers. And it seems to me that sometimes it’s just an issue of where are those assets?

So does there need to be better communication between marketing and sales in terms of where to find these assets and at what stage in your sales process, Mr. Salesperson, should you be sharing this?

Marketers are going to hate me for this, but I think it’s the marketer’s fault. I think the marketers need to take the ownership of ensuring that the sales team has the context around why they’re creating things and what those things are intended to be used for and take the time and energy to get closer to your sales team so you can learn from them whether or not these assets are actually valuable.

I will spend time with a sales team listening to their Gong recordings, listening to them talk to a prospect and try to understand what can I arm my sales team with that will help them manage this rebuttal.

So if I’m constantly seeing four competitors showing up in every single sales call, then I as a marketer need to arm my team with resources that they can go into and start to circulate and distribute to prospects that might be having that type of rebuttal and bringing that up.

So for me, I think you’re 100% spot on that it’s a communication problem and I would encourage any marketer that’s listening and if you’re on the sales side, then forward it to your marketing team. The marketing team should be taking into account that the sales team is actually a distribution channel.

They should view sales as one distribution channel the same way that they view LinkedIn, the same way they view X, the same way they view podcast newsletters, et cetera. View the sales team as a distribution channel.

When we press publish on a case study, we’re going to actually write as the marketing team what the sales team should update their signature to say. Your signature across the board for the next two weeks should say, hey, you should PS, you should check out our latest case study where we talk about how we help this brand grow 2 .3% in their X, Y, and Z.

Cool. You communicate that if you need to attend and talk to sales leadership to get time on the books during their weekly call to just make the request, do it. But marketers, I encourage you to view your sales team as a distribution channel and take the lead on owning that.

What are some model organizations that come to mind in terms of content creation? I happen to think that Zapier does a great job. But in terms of B2B companies that have a complex sales cycle, have you seen cases of model companies that they’re really doing the marketing well, and they’re leveraging their salespeople well?

I know Salesforce does a great job, that Salesforce employees are sharing lots of content on X and on LinkedIn, but any others that come to mind?

There’s so many, HubSpot does a great job at it. I want to try to figure out if there’s one that’s very niche, that’s doing things that are a little bit more out there. I would say the one thing I don’t see happening in B2B that I think is coming soon is more brands empowering their teams to create video content.

It’s starting to happen often in B2C, but I don’t see it happening in B2B yet. But a lot of the giants have cracked the playbook as it relates to social media for B2B. When you look at the Hubspots, the Salesforces, you look at the Vivas, these big Twilios, these brands, they all have gotten the fundamentals.

But all of those efforts, for the most part, are kind of like table stakes now. At a certain level, at a certain scale, they become table stakes. And the question becomes, who’s going to innovate fast enough?

Who’s going to innovate first to start looking into trends like short form video? Whether it’s on Reels, whether it’s on YouTube Shorts, whether it’s on TikTok, I don’t know. But I think there’s something there.

And the B2B brands that start to tap into it are going to be the B2B brands that I think are going to start to find even more leverage online with their social content. But also, I think there’s a play of education where we wouldn’t see it as outsiders, but there’s a continuous investment inside of some of the top companies in their people, where they’re actually educating their people.

They’re bringing in experts. They’re bringing in people and training their teams on best practices. And then they’re empowering their people by giving them the space to experiment and try new things, play with new tools to go out and do some cool things.

And I think that’s another part of it. As leadership, you need to be willing to kind of invest in your people to experiment and have keynote speakers come in to have fireside chats or bring in a small up and coming startup that’s actually doing something that’s very unique and ask them for inspiration, and then try to apply it to your org as well.

It seems like there’s a natural reticence among sales people to put themselves on camera. So you have tools out there like Vidyard that have been around for years and on paper a great platform. To me, they’re just so underutilized and I think part of it is, as you say, at some point management has to start to push their sales teams into using this.

You’ve got to jump into the pool and you may fail miserably on your first three attempts, but just keep doing it, keep doing it, you’ll get better.

That’s exactly it. When it comes to adopting new tools, I always say there’s two key things that it comes down to, empowerment and education. If you are trying to make your company embrace a tool like Vidyard, you need to make the time to ensure that they are educated on the power of this tool, and every salesperson cares about their quota, so if you can show them that this can improve their likelihood of success, you’re going to see an increase in adoption.

So, the way that you educate can be starting with, okay, we’re going to host a facilitated session where someone’s going to talk us through the tool. Cool. We also want to have somebody who has experienced this tool and they’ve gotten some wins to talk about it as well.

That happens in one quarter, let’s say. The next quarter though, you’re going to look at who started to use it a lot internally. Did they get wins? What was the increase? Are they like completely blowing their numbers now and hitting it consistently?

Great. Let’s actually have that individual be highlighted and showcased. Let’s include references to them in the internal standup. Let’s put out emails talking about how great this person is doing, and then let’s have a conversation with them in front of the rest of the sales team where that team can pick their brain and learn from this person who’s already been taking the reins on this tool to win.

That’s where empowerment comes into play because now you’re showing what success looks like. Now you’re distributing that story internally to show them what it looks like to win. Now the next step after you’ve done all of this education is to say, folks, we just locked in a partnership.

We’ve invested in this tool. We want all of you to do it, and then the team typically will adopt. I think educate and empower your team on the tools that you’re trying to adopt and show them once the clarity is there on how it’s actually working and then let it go off into the races from there.

And before I pass this over to Sam, because I’m sure he’s got a few burning questions, I wanted to get your opinion on one other thing, and that’s CRM and AI. And it seems to me that the CRM vendors have to be very, very measured and cautious about how they introduce AI capabilities into CRM, because you could lose a customer that you’ve had for three years in one minute.

And Chat GPT is a global platform. They don’t have to have those concerns, but as soon as you’re integrated into this platform, which is really your primary way that you obtain and retain customers, you don’t wanna mess up.

So can you speak a little bit to how CRM and AI will evolve and maybe it’s gonna take longer than we expect?

Yeah, there’s two frontiers, three frontiers that I think we have to go through with CRM technology and AI. The first frontier is privacy-based. We need to ensure that the AI tools and the AI technology that the CRM solutions we’re using and embracing are not going to leak any of the sensitive information that we have out there to the LLM.

And then from there, me be able to say, hey, how much pipeline does my competitor have and then I get that insight? Or me to say, who are the top prospects and clients of my competitor and then I get that information?

That’s frontier one. When you are choosing a CRM that leverages AI, make sure that the data that you have input into the solution is yours and will not have the ability to be leaked out into the web, so to speak, and to the actual solutions AI tool that it’s using to deploy more information.

Frontier one. Once that has been locked down, the next piece of this that we all need to be thinking about is how does AI impact our productivity and efficiencies? So how is this going to actually accelerate the number of outreaches that we have per day?

And then you need to adjust your expectations accordingly. So if you are using old standards of best practice, but you notice that someone is 10X everyone else, maybe it’s because they’re using AI and if they have a 10X result on the back of that, maybe you need to ask yourself, okay, this person is having 10X result.

We might be a little bit overstaffed. We might need to scale back on teammates and just increase adoption across the board. Those are things that you actually will need to consider. Now the third frontier, which will come out of that second frontier is that a lot of the people receiving the emails and cold outreach are going to feel very fatigued.

They’re going to be getting so many emails, so much communication from people that they’re going to feel overwhelmed by a lot of this. And this is the part that a lot of people don’t understand. But if you are on the receiving end of hundreds of emails every single day, all of those emails start to look the same.

And we’re going to start to see after I believe the next two years or so, I think we’re still early, we’re going to start to see the outreach side start to take a pretty heavy nosedive as Google responds, Outlook responds and starts to say, if you’re not already in somebody’s contact list, then you’re going to have a hard time getting through.

That’s going to be a real problem for folks and it’s going to be because so many emails are going to be able to be sent in the next few months slash years. With all of that said, the second frontier is going to be a gold rush.

Those who leverage AI in the next two years are going to tap into some ridiculous returns on outreach because of efficiencies and productivity. The third tier though, the third frontier is going to be how you stand out amongst all of the noise that is going to be showing up in people’s inboxes and how you can really differentiate yourself in that inbox and with that first contact.

I think human face-to-face events is going to actually make a ridiculous comeback in a lot of these industries. I think we’re going to see a rise in video being used, like Vidyard, like you mentioned, at scale for a lot of outreach and inbound and I think it’s all going to be trackable within a CRM and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an AI that gets connected to a deep fake of a lot of sales professionals, speaks into a camera and says, hey so and so, I happen to be on your website and this is what I saw and it’s all done using AI.

That I believe is going to be the third tier, which is going to happen after the gold rush of just written text through CRM.

Yup, completely agree. Sam.

I’m always amazed, first of all, it’s great so far, I’m always amazed at the disconnect between marketing and sales in organizations, where marketing is either they stop when they get a market qualified lead, or they stop when they get a partial sales qualified lead and hands it off to sales.

And what I’m finding in a lot of my customers are that their sales team is building their own content. Can you address how marketing should work with sales, particularly when they’re creating their own content, it sort of has a disjointed message I see coming out of organizations.

Yeah, it’s very disjointed. And I think a lot of it starts with synergy at the top. So if your CMO and your head of sales aren’t talking and they’re not close, they’re not like best buds, then you probably have a problem because they’re all within the revenue function.

At the end of the day in business, they’re all a part of the revenue function. And you need those two, the leads to either be one person or you need them to be really close and very, very much on the same page.

And then ideally they start to bring in leadership and bring in their teams together to say, look, our metrics are the same. Our metrics aren’t just traffic. We actually care about revenue. We actually care about what the lifetime value is of a deal.

We care about pipeline. We care about the real business stuff. It’s not just impressions. It’s not just retweets. Cool, you’re talking about backlinks, but they don’t really matter that much. All that matters is whether or not we’re moving the needle as it relates to revenue.

Those are conversations that need to happen at the leadership level. Then as you scale down the org, you need to start creating processes that allow for marketing and sales to collaborate. So hey, sales team, before you actually spin together a case study, I want you to go to this form that our marketing team has produced and just send us a Vidyard talking about what you want.

And then the marketing team can listen to that and try to get more clarity, ask questions and go out and create that case study, create that PDF, create that resource. And then a lot of times I will hear, yeah, but our marketing team is already full up.

They get a lot of requests from sales and sales doesn’t want to have to do… okay. But at the end of the day, marketing is supposed to support sales for the final deliverable final role. So marketing needs to find a way to support sales through allocation of resources.

That might mean that they’re gonna hire an entire agency on the side that is exclusively going to be focused on serving the sales team, but marketing has the final review of the assets, whatever it takes.

The goal is really that simple. Make it easy for sales to get what they want. Make sure that marketing has the ability to touch it throughout the process to ensure the voice and the tone is right. And it’s along the lines of whatever the leadership team’s vision is, and then give it back to them from there.

You know, it’s interesting when you talked about live events. We’re seeing, of course, and I feel it as well, of email burnout. I know when I started my New Year’s resolution was to mark things I don’t want to see as junk and now my junk folder is now bigger than my inbox, which took like six weeks.

But one of the things we are finding is that going to live events seem to be back and actually on top of that, we hired prospectors to follow up for the sales team to queue up those. And so can we talk a little bit about why live events are back?

Is it just burnout from inbound marketing? And how do I use AI and how do I promote live events better using your model of marketing?

I think there’s so much value in events. There’s really two, there’s two key experiences that I believe are the most valuable from events. One experience is having a lot of boots on the ground who give you a lot of coverage to build relationships and network at these events to build connections.

The role that AI plays in that is you’re able to start taking photos of business cards that you’re capturing and gathering, starting to send yourself an email that has all of them in there with some notes and then sending it off to an AI when you get back to the hotel, asking the AI to do the prospecting and to do some research to understand what companies these people are at and then also writing the email that follows up with them.

So one tactic that I’ve found super valuable is I’ll take a picture of a business card and I’ll write down what we talked about and then I’ll send an email to myself that says, this is what we talked about, this is what I said and this person, this is what I said I would follow up with this person and then I update that entire thing, upload it to chat GPT with the image, et cetera, and it will write that first follow up email on my behalf and you can do that in some CRMs as well and then you send it off to them.

That’s an easy touch point and if you have a lot of boots on the ground, you use AI to augment an experience that would have been manual in the past, it’s amazing. Now a secondary function that I find super valuable and it’s my primary approach is getting on stage at these events.

If you can speak at these events, it can be an amazing win for your organization, whether you’re sharing case studies, whether you’re doing a keynote thought leadership style presentation, once you are on stage, you’re now networking with every single human in the room.

Every single person there now knows who you are, you now have a relationship in some way with those people and what you can now do at scale is if you have a slide that says, follow me on X, follow me on LinkedIn, here’s my email, send an email to this and download our free resource, whatever, you can start to get those people’s contact info.

That’s one great approach but what’s even better is after you get off stage, there’s gonna be a lot of people who will want to talk to you and want to get to know you and then it’s that foots on the ground strategy where you want to follow up with these individuals, build that relationship and build that connection.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re on stage, you wanna have that content recorded. You record that content once and you distribute it forever. So if I give a keynote, it’s not just a one-time thing.

I’m going to take moments within that keynote where I said something interesting. I’m gonna cut it up into short clips, into short segments and I’m gonna distribute that on LinkedIn. I’m going to upload the entire keynote to a podcast stream.

So my listeners on my podcasts came to hear it. I’m going to take the entire thing, upload it to YouTube. I’m gonna upload it to X. I’m going to take clips and I’m gonna share them on my Instagram as a reel, all of the things happen.

In addition to writing a blog post about what I talked about, all of these things happen out of that one asset that gives me the ability to reach out to even more people than were in the actual presence of me giving my keynote presentation.

One of the other things we’re seeing a lot of, and I honestly haven’t seen these until post-COVID. I’m sure they were there pre-COVID, but speed dating events where they bring in people who are looking for a solution and then they bring in a bunch of solution providers when you spend a half hour or 15 minutes.

How can I use AI to help follow up with my speed dating events?

Yeah. You need to be a very fast talker. And then after you’re a fast talker, you want to pull out your phone and have a voice note that you’re going to record about whoever it was that you talk to. And then you’re going to send that voice note to chat GPT, ask it to transcribe it.

And then you’re going to use that voice note as a launching pad, ideally, where you’re talking about the things you discussed and things you sold for your follow up communication with that individual.

The speed dating thing is fascinating to me. I’d be curious, like from your perspective, do you think those work? Do you think that people are getting the ROI out of them?

I don’t know because they’re expensive and we might, we might get one or two opportunities out of, out of it. Maybe not necessarily wins, but just opportunities. So for us, the jury is out, but we’re doing three of them or four of them this year.

So we’re not, you know, but it just, it’s interesting because I’ve never seen those before and now they’re coming everywhere and they’re not only sponsored by, you know, like a, a Capterra or something like that.

They’re being sponsored now by associations.

True. True. Yeah. I’ve noticed that. There must be some type of ROI that people are seeing on the back of them. Even for me, it’s like, I don’t know how I would buy something from that speed dating experience, but call me old.

But even the speed dating concept outside of business doesn’t really make sense to me. So I don’t know. I don’t know. Me and my wife have been together since high school. So I never lived in the swipe right, swipe left era.

Maybe it works. Maybe it works.

Yeah, no, I don’t get it either, but yet it seems to be interesting.

I’d love to hear how how it goes and maybe we can jam on how AI might be able to supplement it.

I’m definitely going to do the ChatGPT thing. I didn’t think of that. And then the last thing I’m seeing right now is, and I, and again, this is a problem I haven’t figured out, um, how to solve, but I’m seeing everyone wanting to know exactly what the ROI of marketing is and where this becomes a problem is companies who market to one audience, but they’re selling channels, a completely different audience.

Right. And so I’ll give you the couple of examples. One is a drug companies. Right. They may talk to doctors, but the purchase is actually made by a patient and it comes through a pharmacy. So I can’t, I, because of privacy, I can’t actually look at their patients.

So I have to somehow attribute sales in a particular area to a particular event. And, uh, we have not figured out, I mean, we, we’ve, we’ve tried lots of different ways of doing this. Yeah. But it’s, it’s interesting.

Are you seeing AI helping out with analysis of, attribution of marketing, towards indirect sales?

It’s a great question. And I think it’s a problem that will continue to exist in highly sensitive industries for a very long time. And that’s a good thing. Like I think it’s good that we can’t track private stuff on like private decisions around patients and stuff like that.

But what we have seen value in is thinking a little bit more creatively around the metrics that we present to the client, because we have to get on the same page to say like, this is the metric that is in a leading indicator that people are probably turning into customers.

So what is a leading indicator that doesn’t give away privacy information that doesn’t necessarily attribute to, oh, look, we are definitely seeing exactly who this individual is. And how can we figure out like what is the top of funnel or even middle of funnel efforts that take place that don’t give us direct insight into exactly who it is that’s making this purchase?

What are those metrics? And then we work back from those. So in these cases, some organizations that are super conversion focused and revenue focused get a little bit antsy about it, but traffic to specific demo pages becomes interesting.

Traffic to solution pages becomes interesting. Your actual direct traffic from people who live within the regions that you’re trying to connect to and sell to becomes interesting. And what AI is able to do is it’s able, if you do it right, you can export a lot of the data from analytics, from your various solutions and start to upload it and ask AI to analyze and identify moments in which they believe things are happening that are related to sales.

So you could say, we’re seeing X, Y, and Z as an increase in our amount of revenue in this region. Please review our analytics and check and see whether or not there’s any type of correlation with that.

And you can start to present that type of data. So to me, in sensitive instances, you want to find leading indicators of revenue versus getting down to the nuance, oh, I know I closed Sally Jo, but you can’t talk about that.

So like, go up market a little bit and see like what is the total amount of traffic to these pages and is it increasing and is it correlated maybe to revenue?

Yeah, you see that with the B2C guys, you know, is it, are we, you know, we came out with a new beer. Is it the new beer or is it the Super Bowl weekend that’s driving our sales, you know? And the problem with that is you got to, you got to do it over a long period of time.

It just can’t be, you know, something that you do for six weeks or you can’t A/B test it very easily. You know, you just got to pick a path that you feel is the best. And then put analytics on it to see, you know, if over three months or whatever, you’re trending in one direction or another.

Right, and it goes back to the conversation I was having with Steve around like, if you treat it like an investment, that’s exactly the way you should think about it. Like, get out of the world of short term trading and think about the most successful investors of all time.

There are long-time holders of assets that are valuable. So if we take a long term perspective when we’re thinking about our investments, we should be okay with saying, all right, right now we might not have perfect data, but over three years, a year, 12 months, whatever it might be, we’ll have better data to inform whether or not this investment is worthwhile.

So if you play the long game, just like you should in investing, and this isn’t investing advice, I don’t want anybody coming knock and saying, Ross, we’re doing investment advice. But like, if you play the long game, you increase your likelihood of being able to see returns in the market.

So as creators, as salespeople, as marketers, we need to have that same mindset around the long term versus the short term.

So you’re telling me as a marketer, I should not have sold my Apple stock when it went from five to 10 years. I am.

Well, this is the other piece that’s interesting about this whole thing is everybody’s investment strategy is going to be different based off of their goals, right? The way that I would give advice to my 14-year-old cousin to invest is very different than the advice that I would give my grandmother, right?

Completely different. Like, Nanny, hold on and just let it just ride. I don’t care if you have 0.5% growth, you just need to keep it there. But then you can have some risk. If they believe that they should go into crypto, go into crypto, right?

They’ve got a longer period of time. So everyone’s circumstance is different. Your risk tolerance is different. And I think with marketing, it’s the same thing. I don’t think every CRM, every SaaS solution, every product should take my advice when I talked about short form video.

Some brands should not touch it. Some brands shouldn’t touch Reddit. Some brands shouldn’t touch X, but some should tinker with it because they’re in a different position where their leader in the industry just is owning 95%, 80% market share and they have to get scrappy.

They need to be innovative. They need to do things to stand out. But if you’re that leader in the market, you might not need to invest in that. That’s not going to help you maintain your position. So for me, it goes back to thinking like an investor in so many ways when we think about marketing and think about communication.

And to your point, it’s like maybe you should have sold Apple, but maybe somebody should hold on to that for dear life.

Ross, since you almost exactly predicted the Super Bowl outcome,

That was close, I was close.

And I’m not a big prediction guy, but I would love to hear some of your general predictions for the rest of this year.

Yeah, so one of my predictions that I had for this year is that we’re going to see for the first time a full commercial developed by a big brand that is using nothing but AI and it’s going to be one that moves people.

I think there’s going to be an ad that is developed with nothing but AI that actually moves people and actually like inspires them in a meaningful way. An unfortunate but truthful prediction is I think we’re going to continue to see massive layoffs across the industry.

I think we’re going to see worse layoffs than we’ve already seen this past quarter and the quarter before that. I think that’s going to continue to wreak havoc on a lot of people. And I think one of the things that I’m excited about is I also believe we’re going to start seeing some major consolidation with some, I’m excited about it, but at the same time, there’s some challenges with it.

But I think we’re going to start seeing a lot of industry leaders acquire even more AI related startups and software and make them a part of their full stack in real deeply meaningful ways for organizations.

I think we’re going to see that. And then the final thing that I would say I predict is I think we’re going to see a significant investment finally in B2B into influencers, the way that B2C has done for the last like 10 years, right?

Like everyone thinks influencers and they think of people selling shakes on Instagram and like all of that stuff. But there’s a lot of experts in tech that have very, very valuable audiences that smart SaaS companies should start to invest in and start to have partnerships with and relationships with where things are brought to you by so and so.

Like it happens every minute in B2C, but B2B is sleeping at the wheel in a very meaningful way. This should be sponsored by like 20 companies. But like there’s no question in my mind that this is going to be a year where we see way more sponsorship in B2B.

Okay, so that’s a big one.

You can be contacted at… I’m kidding. Yeah, exactly Seriously you can find Ross on X/Twitter @thecoolestcool

Yeah, I’m at @thecoolestcool. I created my Twitter handle when I was in university and it stuck, so no judgment there. But if you do a search for me, Ross Simmons, I’m on all of your favorite channels, whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram.

I love to connect. You can check out Foundation, which is our content marketing firm. We work with B2B SaaS and cloud companies every day on their marketing engines. And be sure to check out rossimmonds.com for information on when Create Like the Greats is going to be hitting the shelves.

And for the two of you, I’ll send you a signed copy, as well as a prediction for the next Super Bowl so you can get in on the odds on that next game. Thank you for investing. Yeah.

Alright, well thank you very much for your time today and by the way, we’ve done 116 audio-only episodes, so we’re going to shift this time and we’re going to go video and make sure we get you some good clips to share with your audience.

I appreciate you both. Thank you so much for having me on.

All right, thank you, Ross.