Why we distribute marketing content to the wrong people and pay for it

Last updated on January 17th, 2024

Pardeep Kullar
Pardeep Kullar

Do you hear a lot about marketing personas? Or the phrase ‘find people similar to your current customers’? Maybe you’ve even given it a go but felt you did not do it properly. Here we give both our own recent experience and April Dunford’s take on understanding the real buyers by doing ground up work.

imgWhat if Sally does not give a damn about your content because she prefers red wine and GoT on Friday nights, rather than reading about new hiring software. Sally don’t care.

Upscope’s own recent assumptions that were wrong.

Successful entrepreneurs say that you need to look at your current customers and find people similar to them.

If you’re like me, you may have thought ‘I’m pretty certain I know who our customers are but I’ll give this a go anyway’.

However, did you really do it thoroughly or half ass it? Congrats if you did a thorough job. I did not. Not at first.

When we finally came down to doing it systematically and added up just the job titles of those people who read our articles and signed up, we saw the following:

35% of the people who signed up to our product were founders or CEOs.

50% were senior director types.

15% were employees.

Instincts change

Prior to this, my pseudo-instinct told me that everyone across the company was reading our stuff. We were thinking of the home page in those terms, we were thinking of the content in those terms, we were fkg wrong.

After seeing these stats, I adjusted my ‘instinct’ and now my instinct tells me that it’s mostly senior types who read our stuff.

It’s funny how my instinct completely changes based on real evidence.

So, what are my new instinctive assumptions?

The founder types read a lot

I can understand co-founders like me, they’re going to be reading on the train, reading at home and reading on weekends. They’ll read across a wide variety of topics including areas as varied customer success, is Python 3.x faster than 2.7, how to increase sales, how to double your traffic, how to hire correctly etc. I’m reading anything that will help the company.

The director types read a lot

I can just about figure out what senior director types read about. If you’re in charge of marketing then you’ll be reading about creating and distributing content, copywriting, ads and so on. The primary metric you’ll be concerned with could be traffic or blog post stats or whether you’ll meet your Thursday deadline for your list post. You most likely won’t be reading about Meteor and Reactjs working together for lightning fast front-end development.

Some of the regular staff read a lot but most are on Netflix and er..

Some ambitious employees will be reading about marketing, sales etc but most of them are looking forward to the weekend and Netflix, or that party, that event, that something other than work.

Maybe they are motivated to pass on information about a new product because it really makes their life better but they might have to also consider whether it’s going to be used against them or if it will suitably impress the boss.

Extract of April Dunford’s experience

Context: From around 50.30 in this video, April Dunford covers the impact of bad assumptions. Something was wrong so April decided to find out from the ground up by going to sit with the sales people.

I decided I’m going to sit with the inside sales people to see if I learn something. I had 5 inside sales people. One guy in particular had great numbers.

So, I sat with him and listened to conversation and it was the most shocking thing.

At that point, if you were selling a CRM, the budget holder for that was in IT. The CIO owned the budget for that.

You went into IT, you sold them on that stuff, they deployed it, they had to work with all their other internal stuff, it was a big integration project, massive professional services.

All my marketing was focused on that stuff. All my material was focused on IT, IT, IT.

This guy gets on the phone and calls our lead, the guy in IT, and says ‘who runs sales?’

The IT guy says “that’s so and so” and he puts him through to that guy. He talks to the sales guy and says ‘I got this awesome stuff, it’s going to be awesome for your dept, your IT guy might not like it but it’s gonna make you look like star, I’m gonna have my guy come in and show it to you’

I thought omg, this guy is selling to a totally different part of the business. Then you start crunching through it. You look at the numbers and while it’s not every company, but for some kinds of companies, if you went in through the business side as opposed to IT you can get the deal done faster. The whole thing just worked better.

I had no marketing program to cover this guy. None. I had none focused on the head of sales.

We had to go back and retool a whole bunch of stuff. Had I not questioned that, had I just thought ‘he’s just a good salesperson’ or whatever, I would have missed this great opportunity. It was a hard job having to convince everyone.

If you have something that’s not working, you can’t throw it out until you get a satisfactory answer.


Liked that? Read this classic…

Seth Godin’s talk on ideas and the ‘Purple cow’ covers some great points about finding the people who listen and are maybe obsessed with what you have to offer. It’s more of a general and motivating nature but damn, he good.

Pardeep Kullar
Pardeep Kullar

Pardeep overlooks growth at Upscope and loves writing about SaaS companies, customer success and customer experience.