Content as a Career and the Future of Communities with Superpath’s Jimmy Daly

Episode 84 of Yes, and Marketing

What’s the fastest way to get a content marketer to pay attention to sales?

Make him run the sales team.

That’s what Animalz did with Jimmy Daly, and it was a wildly successful move. As VP of Growth and one of the first 7 employees, Jimmy helped turn Animalz into one of the biggest content marketing agencies in the industry.

Jimmy is also the force behind Superpath (a Slack community of content marketers), a sales-enablement advocate, elk hunter, ultra-marathoner, and more. In this interview, Steve and Jimmy take a deep dive into how content marketers can work with sales teams:

  • How sales teams can get content marketers’ attention
  • Why past guest Dave Kellog is 100% right when he says marketing exists to support sales
  • What in-house marketers can learn from agencies
  • Predictions for the future of Slack communities
  • Why content strategy questions are complex and wonderful

Tap through the chapters above to listen or read on for our highlights from the conversation.

Guest-at-a-Glance

Name: Jimmy Daly

What he does: Founder and CEO of Superpath.

Find Jimmy on the web: Superpath | LinkedIn | Twitter

Get smart: “Content and sales teams should have a weekly meeting at the very least.”

Top Takeaway

The goal of content is to support sales

You know you’re doing something right when your podcast guests reference each other. Jimmy quoted past guest Dave Kellogg in saying, “Marketing exists to make sales easier,” and he has firsthand experience to back it up:

“I took on a sales role at Animalz eventually and spent two years running all of our sales, and I cannot even tell you the number of times that I looked back at marketing and was like, ‘Can I get a little help here? I’m out here on an island.’”

Salespeople are on the front lines talking to customers, which means they have the greatest need for content and they have the most insight into what content will resonate with your prospects.

“I think content and sales teams should have a weekly meeting, at the very least, and just talk about what has come up in sales this week and how content could support those things,” Jimmy says. “Do you need more case studies? Have we not written enough about our important product integrations? What about your nurture emails—has anyone looked at them in three years?”

Content that brings in traffic alone won’t grow the business. Content that helps sales, on the other hand, will lead to new customers, more business, and higher revenue.

Episode Highlights

One thing in-house marketers can learn from agencies

Companies don’t fire employees all that often, but they fire agencies all the time, which is part of the appeal of hiring them. If it doesn’t work out, you fire them and nobody’s feelings are hurt. (Sort of—it’s not like firing an employee, anyway.)

And I think that in-house teams could learn from agency-side anxiety about getting fired. What I mean by that is, when you work at an agency, you have to read between the lines on everything your client tells you, you have to ask why, and you have to ask what may feel like dumb questions—and you’re allowed to do that because you’re a third party. So you can ask a bunch of questions to understand, what is the root root root problem? Why have you hired us? What are we supposed to be doing?

…I think in-house folks could learn from that. You should ask more dumb questions. You probably should have like low, low level anxiety, that ‘Am I doing the right thing??’ and always checking against that.”

Organize your team for marketing-sales alignment

“If a content team rolls up into marketing and the sales folks roll up into sales, they’re always going to be separate. You can try to bridge that gap, but I actually think it makes more sense, depending on your organization, for sales and marketing to both roll up into growth so that they have one boss. Because if they have one boss, then that boss is going to make sure that those two teams are aligned all the time.”

Why he enjoyed sales

“Sales is mostly free consulting, and that’s actually really fun. Sales calls are mostly asking lots of questions and then brainstorming ideas and then at the end saying, ‘Okay, okay, we have this thing, I think it might be able to help you. Do you want to talk about it?’”

One way Animalz made content work for sales

“I had a couple sales calls with SaaS companies who had recently raised a series A and their problems were so identical: They had money in the bank, they’re ready to move fast, and they’re wondering, ‘When can we get started? How quickly can we move? And when are we going to see ROI?’ 

…So we wrote an article that was called ‘Why venture-backed companies struggle with content marketing’ and had a million examples of where companies had blown a bunch of money on something that didn’t really work very. And I would feed that back into our sales conversations. So that article became not just something that I could put in an email and send out as a followup, but it became a script so when that situation came up again, I’ve got examples to cite, I’ve got like a couple of one liners that are going to hopefully really resonate with this person. But I’ve also got solutions because we’ve thought through this, we’ve analyzed a bunch of these situations and we have a plan.”

On his favorite Superpath channel: #content-strategy-questions

“People come and ask really cool questions about content strategy, and I think the reason I like it so much is because every question is multifactorial. It’s never as simple as, ‘The difficulty in volume for these keywords is X, what should we do?’ It’s never that. 

It’s like, ‘My manager thinks I should do this, but I disagree.’ ‘Our budget is X and it’s not enough.’ ‘We’ve done this before and it failed.’ It’s very contextual. There’s lots of different things going on, which is how it works in real life when you’re on the job, trying to figure this stuff out.

…And when you see questions pop up like that, it’s so clear that it resonates because the rest of our members jump on it. They’re like, ‘Oh yeah, my manager has done this before too, and here’s what I did,’ or ‘Here’s a way that I advocated for more budget,’ or ‘Here’s how I worked with less budget than I was hoping for.’ So it’s cool because it’s all over the place, but it’s all very real world situations.”

A prediction for the future of Slack communities

“The thing I think we will probably see is SaaS companies scooping these niche communities up because all the SaaS companies I’ve talked to say ‘Oh, community—it’s on our list, we’re going to hire somebody, we’re going to start our own….’ And my feeling is, don’t bother. It would be better for you to acquire a grassroots community and keep it organic and fun and all that versus starting one.”

Top Quotes

Jimmy:

“Content and sales teams should have a weekly meeting at the very least.”

“Sales is it. That’s what drives the business forward. Marketing is there help them out.”

“Content strategy is as much about the people as it is about figuring out what you’re going to write about or how you’re going to promote it.”

“If you have a chance to do something that’s kind of scary or doesn’t fit the plans you currently have laid out for you—think about it.”

Learn More

Curious what an elk bugle sounds like? We were too.

English major in need of some career advice? Check out DearEnglishMajor.com.

Megan Skalbeck

Megan traffics in words. Whether that’s spinning up a story on the blog or paring down a conversation on the podcast, it’s all elementary math in the end: She adds, subtracts, multiplies for effect, and divides for readability. When she’s not helping words live their most meaningful life, she’s usually in the woods, in the ocean, on a rock, or on the road.

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